PhysTEC Programs

UTA Program Details and Application

The UTA program involves three related activities requiring a total time commitment of roughly 7 hours per week. UTAs are assigned to one of the Physics Department's calculus-based introductory courses (e.g., PHYS 1112, 2213, 2214, 2207, 2208, 1116, 2217, 2218, also PHYS 3316). They co-teach cooperative learning sections and/or labs  with a graduate student TA and/or staff course study halls, for a total of 2 contact hours per week, and attend a seminar on teaching and learning physics. They are also encouraged to attend the weekly course staff meeting. The 7 hours includes preparation time and the seminar.

Preparation: The course instructional team, consisting of Physics faculty, graduate TAs and UTAs, meets one hour each week to prepare for the upcoming cooperative learning sessions and labs and to reflect on the previous week's activities. UTAs are particularly sensitive to the struggles of their peers and so bring important insights to the faculty and graduate TAs. Instructional team meetings are scheduled at the start of the semester and generally take place on a weekday afternoon. UTAs should also work the assigned coop problems and discuss any important points with their TA partners or other course staff. 

Pedagogy: UTAs enroll and participate in the 1.5 hour weekly seminar course, Physics 4484 "Teaching and Learning Physics", held on Wednesdays 3-430 pm and 730 - 9 pm.  This interactive seminar introduces UTAs to key concepts in teaching and learning, and guides them through reflection upon their teaching experiences.

Practice: Each UTA partners with a graduate TA to facilitate two one-hour cooperative learning sessions or one two-hour lab each week. Students are guided to work in teams, solve problems and then present their results to the class. The UTA and TA ask questions to guide the students toward a deeper understanding of the subject and to provide feedback to the lead instructor. Cooperative learning sessions generally take place between 8:00 am and 1:10 pm, and labs between 12:20 pm and 4:25 pm and 730-9 pm on MW.  Some UTAs may also/instead be assigned to help out at Study Halls - drop-in problem solving / homework help sessions, which typically occur in the afternoons and evenings on both weekdays and weekends.  All UTAs are assigned a regional high school physics teacher as a mentor.  UTAs are video recorded in the classroom, and then discuss these videos with the teacher mentor. 

Credit: UTAs enroll in two 1 credit courses:  Physics 4484 Teaching and Learning Physics, the seminar course; and Physics 4485 "Physics Teaching Experience", which documents your in-class teaching experience. These credits will appear on your transcript, but do not count toward graduation requirements. 

Eligibility: All freshmen through seniors in any discipline who have taken at least one of Cornell's calculus-based introductory Physics courses (2207-2208, 1112-2213-2214, 1116-2217-2218) are encouraged to apply.   Those students with interests in teaching at some point in their post-Cornell lives, especially at the middle school, high school or college level, are especially encouraged to apply.  Don't worry if you didn't earn As - everyone benefits from teaching experience, and we want as many of you to have this opportunity as possible. 

Master UTAs: UTAs wishing to continue in the program for a second semester are assigned additional mentoring and leadership roles, but do not retake the seminar class.


Apply to the UTA Program

Now accepting applications for Spring 2017

Please complete the on-line application by clicking the link below: