Henderson - AJP 2008

Promoting instructional change in new faculty: An evaluation of the physics and astronomy new faculty workshop

Charles Henderson
Western Michigan University, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49008
(Received 28 June 2007; accepted 9 November 2007)

An important finding of physics and astronomy education research (PAER) is that traditional, transmission-based instructional approaches are not effective in promoting meaningful student learning. Instead, PAER research suggests that physics and astronomy should be taught using more interactive instructional methods. These ways of teaching require significant changes in the way faculty think about teaching and learning and corresponding changes in their teaching behavior. Although the research base and corresponding pedagogies and strategies are well documented and widely available, widespread changes in physics and astronomy teaching at the college level has yet to occur. The Workshop for New Physics and Astronomy Faculty has been working to address this problem since 1996. This workshop, which is jointly administered by the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Physical Society, has attracted approximately 25% of all new physics and astronomy faculty each year to a four-day workshop designed to introduce new faculty to PAER-based instructional ideas and materials. This paper describes the impact of the Workshop as measured by surveys of Workshop participants and physics and astronomy department chairs. The results indicate that the Workshop is successful in meeting its goals and might be significantly contributing to the spread and acceptance of PAER-based instructional ideas and materials.

©2008 American Association of Physics Teachers

PACS: 01.40.G-