Innovation at Rutgers: Preparing Effective Physics Teachers

The Innovations Inventory of AACTE’s Innovation Exchange is an online database highlighting members’ pioneering practices in educator preparation that have shown a positive impact on issues of student learning, preparation program advancement, or educator workforce needs. This blog post is one in a series highlighting entries from the inventory. To request inclusion of your institution’s innovations, contact Zach VanHouten at  

Rutgers University (NJ) is making a big impact on physics education through an innovative program housed in the Graduate School of Education.

The Rutgers University Physics Teacher Preparation Program, now operating for more than a decade, is a 5-year program model leading to a master’s degree. Undergraduate physics majors are admitted to the program at the end of their junior year and then complete 2 years of professional preparation to become secondary teachers. The program also brings in students who already have a bachelor’s degree in physics, engineering, or chemistry.

A series of methods courses prepare the aspiring teachers in inquiry-based, student-centered, “ambitious” pedagogy. During four semesters of clinical practice, candidates teach in both college and high school physics courses, and they support each other through biweekly meetings and an Internet discussion group.

Graduates of this program are highly sought after throughout New Jersey, and more than 80% of the graduates since the program’s inception are still teaching. High school students taught by the program’s graduates achieve exceptional scores on standardized physics tests such as the AP exams and the Force Concept inventory. Many graduates of the program also return to Rutgers to teach methods courses to new students.

To learn more about the Rutgers University Physics Teacher Preparation Program or other institutions participating in the Innovations Inventory, visit

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Zachary VanHouten

Manager of Programs and Advocacy, AACTE