Physics Colloquium - Friday, January 26th, 2007, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Charles Henderson
Western Michigan University

Putting Values into Practice: The Mismatch Between faculty Beliefs and Practices

During the last several decades, researchers have identified many shortcomings of traditional lecture-based instruction and have developed and demonstrated the efficacy of several alternative models of instruction. Yet, many faculty continue to teach traditionally. These researchers often assume that physics faculty teach traditionally because they hold beliefs that such instruction is effective in promoting student learning. Many faculty, however, appear to agree with researchers on the problems with traditional instruction and even on many core ideas behind proposed alternative models. However, making fundamental instructional changes is not always a straightforward endeavor. In the implementation process, faculty may modify the alternative models in subtle ways (often due to student resistance) that can take the new instruction out of alignment with both the research recommendations and the beliefs of the faculty. This talk will use data from two studies of physics faculty to illustrate common mismatches between faculty beliefs and practices. Instructional aspects addressed will be grading student problem solutions and creating class sessions where students can be active learners.