Physics Instructors Are Not Blank Slates Either: An Exploratory Study of Introductory Physics Instruction

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Title: Physics Instructors Are Not Blank Slates Either: An Exploratory Study of Introductory Physics Instruction
Author: Mitchell, Willyetta Adele
Advisors: John Hubisz, Committee Member
Michael Paesler, Committee Member
Len Annetta, Committee Co-Chair
John Penick, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: The purpose of the study was to investigate the views of the nature of science and the classroom practices of instructors who teach introductory physics at a research intensive university. A study of this nature is necessary because calls to change how science is taught have been made since the 1800’s, yet the methods of instruction have remained virtually unchanged. The disconnect between how science is taught and how students learn science can be remedied by effective professional development at the university. However, training on the change process is virtually nonexistent in teacher education programs and in teacher professional development workshops at all levels. The Views About Science Survey (VASS) was first administered to a sample of twenty-nine physics instructors and graduate assistants who have taught introductory physics courses within the last five years. To assess instructional practices in introductory physics at a research extensive university, a purposeful, stratified sample of 56 classes was observed. The interactions between the students and teachers were analyzed using the Flanders Interaction Analysis. The findings suggest that the physics instructors hold a mixed view of the nature of science. The instructors’ views do not necessarily indicate how they teach physics. The results also showed that the professors reported that they use elements of effective teaching practices throughout their instruction. The results of the classroom observations revealed that non interactive lecture is the dominate instructional method used. The Flanders' confirms that the majority of the class time is spent with the teacher talking and the student passively listening.
Date: 2009-07-22
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Science Education

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