Perceptions of physics teachers who have participated in a constructivist in-service experience
Snow, Walter Ross
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This dissertation study was conducted to examine the perceptions held by physics teachers who have participated in a constructivist in-service experience. Six participants were each observed in their classrooms and interviewed twice. They were asked to share their perceptions of what constitutes effective science teaching, effective student science learning and how they perceived the influence of their participation in the in-service training program on their views of effective science teaching and effective student science learning. The findings of this study indicated that the most common perception held by these teachers is that effective science teaching and effective student science learning both involve a shift in the control of the learning process from teacher to student. The teachers perceived that there needs to be a reduction in the visible role of the teacher as compared to the traditional, lecture-centered approach and that there needs to be an increase in student-student interaction. In regard to the influence of the in-service experience, several of the teachers expressed the perception that their understanding of some of the fundamental concepts of physics had meaningfully increased as a result of their participation in the program. Although the teaching style of all of the participants can be described as social constructivist, the findings suggest that the more experienced teachers give less credit to their in-service experience and seemed to have already adopted a distinctly social constructivist approach on their own. One possible implication of this study may be that designers of in-service programs for science teachers might need to take more into account both the subject matter background and the level of teaching experience of the participants for whom a program is intended.