Teaching physics - with incentive to be different
Research project: Technology/Physics education
Is it possible to increase students’ interest in the natural sciences by finding new ways to reason about the science subjects? What do natural scientists consider to be the overall purpose of education and the key subject knowledge for school teachers? How do teacher educators view their respective subject areas and how is this manifested at the Teacher Education Program? The objective of this research project is to make preconceived notions about the scientific school subjects visible and to show how these notions are reproduced at the Teacher Education Program. Susanne Engström and Per Norström, who are associate professors and researchers at the unit Learning in STEM at KTH, partake in this project, which is financed by Vetenskapsrådet.
About the project
This research project is part of the larger project In the borderland between academic disciplines and school science - Science faculty as teacher educators.
At many universities in Sweden, teacher students take their natural science courses at the scientific institutions, which means that the teacher educators often are natural scientists who also do research within their individual areas of expertise. What natural scientists consider to be the overall purpose of education and the key subject knowledge for school teachers, is an area that has not before been studied in detail. This proposed research project, therefore, aims to add to this limited knowledge.
Objective of project
The objective of this project is to show how teacher educators view their respective subject areas and how this is manifested at the Teacher Education Program. Furthermore, the goal is to make preconceived notions about the scientific school subjects visible and to show how these notions are reproduced at the Teacher Education Program. How does the way in which biologists, physicists and chemists present their respective academic disciplines, in speech or action, differ across different contexts? What thoughts and views on their respective subject areas, and corresponding fields of application, do they convey to students?
The researchers hope to get a better understanding of how science is understood and viewed from within, and how subject areas and possible practical applications are conveyed when biologists, physicists and chemists take on the role of teacher educators. In a larger perspective, the research project might lead to new ways to reason about the science subjects and, thereby, increase students’ interest in the natural sciences.
This project runs over four years, and during this time data will be gathered using three methods: observation, interdisciplinary focus group discussions and individual interviews. Teacher educators, teaching biology, physics or chemistry to teacher students as well as other types of students (such as students studying at bachelor programs within the natural sciences and/or engineering programs), will initially be observed.
These observations will then be followed by the interdisciplinary focus group discussions, where each group will include biologists, physicists and chemists. These two methods will later be combined with the individual interviews, in order to increase validity and to get a feeling of how general the results can be said to be.
2016 and 2017 is spent observing, “shadowing” and interviewing. The writing will begin in 2017.
The project was presented at several conferences during 2016, such as the ECER and FND (November 2016). During 2017 an abstract of the report is the subject of a presentation at the ESERA conference in Dublin.