Becoming a physics teacher : Disciplinary discourses and the development of professional identity

Sammanfattning: In this Licentiate thesis I examine the system of physics teacher education. Physics teacher education is important because it is one of the main ways to influence how physics is taught in schools. By extension, physics teacher education has the potential to affect both who chooses to pursue physics as a career and how physics is perceived by Swedish society as a whole. In order to approach this problem, I chose to investigate the professional discourses of Swedish physics teacher educators. I focus on how these discourses potentially afford and constrain trainees’ possibilities of performing a professional physics teacher identity. While the topic of teacher identity has been extensively explored in the literature, the influence of the educational environment on what it means to become a physics teacher has remained very sparsely researched. Theoretically, I view identity as socially constructed in discourse. I connect identity to trainee learning by arguing that what trainees learn will be dependent on their possibilities to perform professional physics teacher identities in their educational programme. Using discourse analysis of interviews with physics teacher educators, I identify four discourse models. These four models paint a picture of the educational program as fragmented with no coherent way of viewing the educational program as a whole. I further suggest that the culture of physics departments plays a pivotal role in the success or otherwise of creating good quality physics teacher education. I demonstrate how an implicit assumption, that the purpose of teaching physics is to create physics experts, appears to unintentionally undermine and devalue physics teacher education within physics departments. The findings presented in this thesis have the potential to inspire teacher educators and physics faculty to examine their own assumptions about what the goal of physics teaching is, and to facilitate the negotiations needed to create a common understanding of the goals of the physics teacher education.

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