Examining Physics Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Teaching a New Physics Curriculum

Aug. 01, 2012

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 451-479. (August 2012).

In this study, the authors investigated the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) that physics graduate teaching assistants (TAs) developed in the context of teaching a new introductory physics curriculum, Matter and Interactions (M&I).

M&I is an innovative introductory physics course that emphasizes a unified framework for understanding the world and presents physics through a few fundamental principles rather than exposing students to concepts through a series of derived equations.

Through a qualitative, multiple case study research design, data were collected from multiple sources: non-participant observations, digitally recorded video, semi-structured interviews, TAs’ written reflections, and researchers’ field notes.

The TAs’ PCK included three components:
(a) knowledge of M&I curriculum goals,
(b) knowledge of instructional strategies appropriate to the M&I course, and
(c) knowledge of students’ learning.

This study shows the complexity of adopting curriculum reforms and the necessity to support the faculty’s and TAs’ knowledge development when a novel science curriculum is adopted.

Updated: Feb. 27, 2013