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Research on physics teaching and learning, physics teacher education, and physics culture at Uppsala University
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Physics Didactics. (Physics Education Research)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3244-2586
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This project compares the affordances and constraints for physics teachers’ professional identity building across four countries. The results of the study will be related to the potential consequences of this identity building for pupils’ science performance in school. The training of future physics teachers typically occurs across three environments, the physics department, the education department and school (during teaching practice). As they move through these three environments, trainees are in the process of building their professional identity. However, what is signalled as valuable for a future physics teacher differs considerably in different parts of the education. In educational research, professional identity has been used in a variety of ways (See for example overviews of the concept in Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009; and Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). In this project we draw on the work of Sfard and Pruzak (2005) who have defined identity as an analytical category for use in educational research. The project leverages this concept of identity as an analytical tool to understand how the value-systems present in teacher training environments and society as a whole potentially affect the future practice of trainee physics teachers. For identities to be recognized as professional they must fit into accepted discourses. Thus the project endeavours to identify discourse models that tacitly steer the professional identity formation of future physics teachers. Interviews will be carried out with trainee physics teachers and the various training staff that they meet during their education (physics lecturers, education lecturers, school mentors). It has been suggested that the perceived status of the teaching profession in society has a major bearing on the type of professional identity teachers can enact. Thus, in this project research interviews will be carried out in parallel across four countries with varying teacher status and PISA science scores: Sweden, Finland, Singapore and England. These interviews will be analysed following the design developed in a pilot study that has already carried out by the project group in Sweden. The research questions for the project are as follows: In four countries where the societal status of the teaching profession differs widely: What discourse models are enacted in the educational environments trainee physics teachers meet? What are the potential affordances and constraints of these discourse models for the constitution of physics teacher professional identities? In what ways do perceptions of the status assigned by society to the teaching profession potentially affect this professional identity building? What are the potential consequences of the answers to the above questions for the view of science communicated to pupils in school? In an extensive Swedish pilot study, four potentially competing discourse models were identified: these are: the critically reflective teacher, the practically well-equipped teacher, the syllabus implementer and the physics expert. Of these, the physics expert discourse model was found to dominate in both the physics department and amongst mentors in schools. In the physics expert discourse model the values of the discipline of physics dominate. Thus, the overarching goal of physics teaching is to create future physicists. In this model, the latest research in physics is seen as interesting and motivating, whereas secondary school subject matter is viewed as inherently unsophisticated and boring—something that needs to be made interesting. The model co-exists with the three other discourse models, which were more likely to be enacted in the education department. These other models value quite different goals such as the development of practical skills, reflective practice, critical thinking and citizenship. We claim that knowledge of the different discourse models at work in four countries with quite different outcomes on PISA science will useful in a number of ways. For teacher trainers, a better understanding of these models would allow informed decisions to be taken about the coordination of teacher education. For prospective teachers, knowledge of the discourse models at work during their education empowers them to question the kind of teacher they want to become.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oslo, 2017. 1-39 p.
Keyword [en]
Physics teacher training, discourse models, comparative education
National Category
Other Physics Topics Didactics
Research subject
Physics with specialization in Physics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-335284OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-335284DiVA: diva2:1162098
Conference
Physics teacher competence and the culture for teaching and learning in physics departments, University of Oslo seminar series 25 Oct. 2017
Projects
VR projekt 2015-01891
Available from: 2017-12-03 Created: 2017-12-03 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved

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