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Respecting tutorial instructors' beliefs and experiences: A case study of a physics teaching assistant Documents

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Respecting tutorial instructors' beliefs and experiences: A case study of a physics teaching assistant 

written by Renee Michelle Goertzen, Rachel E. Scherr, and Andrew Elby

Effective physics instruction benefits from respecting the physics ideas that introductory students bring into the classroom. We argue that it is similarly beneficial to respect the teaching ideas that novice physics instructors bring to their classrooms. We present a case study of a tutorial teaching assistant (TA), Alan. When we first examined Alan's teaching, we focused our attention on the mismatch between his actions and those advocated by the TA instructors. Further study showed us that Alan cared about helping his students and that his teaching was well integrated with his beliefs about how students learn physics and how teachers can best assist students. Learning about Alan's beliefs and motivations changed our thinking about what might constitute effective professional development for Alan and other TAs. We advocate a new perspective on TA professional development: one in which TAs are seen as partners in the endeavor of educating students and one that seeks to find and build upon productive elements in their beliefs.

This article was published in Phys. Rev. ST Physics Ed. Research 6, 020125, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.6.020125 and is released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Published December 15, 2010
Last Modified March 12, 2011

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