Innovative Training of In-service Teachers for Active Learning: A Short Teacher Development Course Based on Physics Education Research

Aug. 15, 2007

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Volume 18, Number 4 / August, 2007 p. 559-572

In this contribution we describe a short development course for in-service physics teachers. The course structure and materials are based on the results of educational research, and its main objective is to provide in-service teachers with a first contact with the active learning strategy “Tutorials in Introductory Physics,” developed by the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Washington.

The course was organized in a constructivist, active learning environment, so that teachers have first to experience, as regular students, the whole Tutorial sequence of activities: Tutorial pre-test, Tutorial, and Tutorial Homework. After each Tutorial, teachers reflect on, and recognize their own students’ learning difficulties, discussing their teaching experiences with their colleagues in small collaborative groups first and the whole class later. Finally they read and discuss specific Physics Education Research literature, where these learning difficulties have been extensively studied by researchers. At the beginning and at the end of the course the participants were given the conceptual multiple-choice test Force Concept Inventory (FCI). The pre-/post-instruction FCI data were presented as a practical example of the use of a research-based test widely used in educational research and in formative assessment processes designed to improve instruction.

Updated: Feb. 19, 2008