Understanding physics teaching and physics teacher education in new ways

Students with bicycles

How can exploring physics teaching and physics teacher education inform physics teacher education and practice? 

In this research area we examine the experience of learning to teach physics in terms of theory, practice, praxis and building a professional identity. For example: how well does the goal of creating future physics teachers resonate with the goal of creating future physicists, and how does this relate to optimizing teacher education?; how do students learn to participate in physics as a discipline; and, what kind of professional identity can be created in the encounter with the culture of physics?

Current projects

For this area of research, the focus is on physics teacher education and physics teachers and it reaches out across a variety of cultures and practices found.

  • What makes a good physics teacher? 
    In this thread of research, views from various stakeholder communities are studied vis-a-vis ways of adopting teaching practice aimed at enhancing learning outcomes.
  • Theoretical perspectives on physics teacher education
    Here we are interested in what knowledge, skills and dispositions are important for physics teachers, what is specific to teachers of physics compared to other disciplines, and how should we prepare competent physics teachers. ​
  • The professional identities of physics teachers
    This research involves analysing interviews with trainee physics teachers’ educators and practicum supervisors in terms of Gee’s discourse models. These discourse models then become the unit of analysis for interviews with trainee physics teachers to identify how these discourse models can affect the constitution of physics teacher professional identities. 

Collaboration and Practice

Our work in the area of teacher education and the culture of physics involves international collaboration with colleagues at the National Institute of Education in Singapore; the SUPER research group, University of Sydney, Australia; Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK; Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Jersey; Åbo Akademi, Finland; the department of Physics, California Polytechnic State University, and, the Department of Physics, Seattle Pacific University.

Other related work involves exploring how the community of Physics Education Researchers can use their research, perspectives, tools, values and habits to contribute to reforming physics teacher education.