Thursday, May 20, 2021

Context Interactions & Physics Faculty’s Professional Development

This is a rather fascinating study of two different physics faculty members at two different schools. I haven't finished reading it carefully yet, but I thought I'd post the link here and let you read along with me.

Abstract: This paper investigates the interactions between context and professional development of physics instructors in a case study of two physics faculty. A phenomenological-case study approach was used to analyze two physics faculty at different institutions over a year and a half using three semi-structured interviews each. The data enabled the identification of relevant context elements; and the impact of these elements on physics faculty's professional development was explored by adapting Bell and Gilbert's framework for teacher development. The analysis shows that both case study subjects used their physics expertise and growing understanding of their context to develop their physics teaching. However, this process of development was enacted differently given the nature of their context, highlighting instructors' strengths in navigating their local context to improve their physics teaching. The results show the subtleties of how context has a salient, complex, and evolving role in moderating faculty's professional development. By taking a faculty-centric approach, this paper broadens the community's awareness of the ways physics instructors develop their physics teaching. This work contributes to a relatively new lens by which the physics community views, discusses, and supports the professional development of physics faculty. 

What the authors call "context" appears to be broadly defined as "... the different entities that influence their professional development .. " which could include the institution, the department, other faculty members, workshops and other faculty development efforts, etc. 

The study focused on two faculty members, and followed them via a series of interviews. In particular, they seem to focus on each faculty member's teaching practices and philosophy, and how they evolve and how they are able to execute their teaching ideas.

Like I said, I'm still in the middle of reading this, but I freely admit that I see bits and pieces of myself in here, especially in the struggle to implement some of the active-learning concepts into my classes, more so during the remote-learning phase due to the pandemic.