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PERC 2018 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Teachers as Learners: Seeing "wonderful ideas" in preservice teacher thinking
Abstract: We are in a time of science education research, and in PER specifically, when nearly all scholars enthusiastically embrace a constructivist perspective on learning. At the heart of that perspective is the assumption that people construct new knowledge from existing knowledge. Duckworth's notion of learners having "wonderful ideas" elucidates and extends constructivism by explicitly reminding researchers that the old knowledge learners build from, while potentially used incorrectly, is in-and-of itself valuable and productive. That is, learner's existing knowledge is wonderful, and indeed must be wonderful, if they are to build their new knowledge from it.

Although researchers and educators have embraced constructivism for our students across K-16, the field has yet to apply that same perspective to our understanding of teachers. It continues to be commonplace to treat teachers either as blank slates who come to our undergraduate courses with no useful knowledge, or as novices characterized predominantly by deficits we need to fix. In this talk, I suggest that supporting teachers in their own learning – both of physics and of pedagogy – must involve seeing them first as learners with wonderful ideas. I will argue for this (seemingly obvious yet not actualized in research!) theoretical stance by presenting data that illustrates teachers' wonderful ideas across several contexts and settings. I will also demonstrate the continuity between those existing wonderful ideas and those the field considers to be sophisticated and desirable. Finally, I will explore implications of this stance for our work with physics teachers both in practice and research.
Abstract Type: Plenary
Room: Renaissance Ballroom

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Rosemary S. Russ
University of Wisconsin, Madison