The motivation for this recently started project is grounded in the shortage of qualified highschool physics teachers in Sweden. Presently, few choose to study physics, both in Sweden and internationally, and even fewer enrol in physics teacher training programs (Statistics Sweden,2011; American association of physics teachers, 1996). What is it that these students are choosing not to become? One aspect of understanding this situation is to look at it from the perspective of a future physics teacher. What potential modes of professional identity are made available for physics teacher students by the education? (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009) The training of high school physics teachers in Sweden is typically carried out in three separate environments: the university physics department, the university education department and in schools during teaching practice (VFU). Trainee physics teachers need to negotiate this intersection in resonance with their own learning goals and expectations. However, little is known about how this negotiation affects the students’ developing professional identity (Connelly & Clandinin, 1999; Beijaard, Verloop, & Vermunt, 2000) as physics teachers. The main focus of this project is to explore aspects of how identities of trainee physics teachers develop in response to the disciplinary and professional discourses they encounter during their university studies. In a first pilot study, we will carry out a survey where we investigate different standpoints on what makes a good or bad physics teacher. The survey will cover the views of various stakeholders in the three environments mentioned above. The aim is to produce a first coarse-grained picture of how attitudes about physics teacher education differ in the different environments. In parallel, a second study of what knowledge is valued for a physics teacher in the three different environments will be carried out. This objective will involve an examination of teacher training curricula together with semi-structured interviews with key informants. Based on the outcomes of the two studies described above, decisions will be made on an appropriate methodology for continued investigations of what is valued in the different environments that trainee physics teachers meet, and how this potentially affects a trainee’s developing professional identity. We envisage that issues of disciplinary discourses (Becher &Trowler, 1989), gender (Danielsson, 2009), social background (Beijaard et al., 2000), power and status would play a major role in the analysis.
American association of physics teachers. (1996). Physics at the crossroads. Retrieved March 15, 2013, from http://www.aapt.org/Events/crossroads.cfm
Beauchamp, C., & Thomas, L. (2009). Understanding teacher identity: an overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39, 175–189.
Becher, T., & Trowler, P. R. (1989). Academic tribes and territories. Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press Milton Keynes.
Beijaard, D., Verloop, N., & Vermunt, J. D. (2000). Teachers’ perceptions of professional identity: an exploratory study from a personal knowledge perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16,749–764.
Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1999). Shaping a professional identity : stories of educational practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Danielsson, A. T. (2009). Doing physics - doing gender : an exploration of physics students’ identity constitution in the context of laboratory work.
Statistics Sweden. (2011). Trender och prognoser 2011.