Nature or Nurture? A Characterization of the Knowledge and Practices of In- and Out-of-field Beginning Secondary Physics Teachers
Previous studies have shown that adequate content knowledge is a necessary, but not sufficient, requirement for affective teaching. While legislation requests teachers to be "highly qualified" in a subject area, such as physics, many teachers are frequently asked to teach in an area when they are not certified through a teaching license to do so. This study uses mixed methods to examine the knowledge of beginning physics teachers. Through semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and concept maps, the pedagogical content knowledge, subject matter knowledge, and practices of three groups of beginning secondary physics teachers were explored. Data were analyzed qualitatively using cases and quantitatively using descriptive statistics and t-tests, the results of which were combined during the interpretation phase of the research process. The study indicated that, over the first two years of teaching, the in-field group of teachers showed stronger physics content knowledge, a consideration for student difficulties with physics topics, and a positive shift in pedagogical content knowledge impacted by working with students, as compared to the rest of the teachers in the study. This research has implications in the development of secondary physics teachers and in the field of physics education research. Specifically, this research has implications in the physics content support for beginning secondary science teachers, the novice/expert research in physics education research, and the pedagogical preparation of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in physics.
0533: Secondary education
0714: Science education