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Abstract Title: Establishing scientific norms in the lab: a spotlight on the instructor
Abstract: Educators interested in changing the norms of the instructional physics lab to better reflect experimental research practices face a tricky challenge: on the one hand, it is the instructors' responsibility to establish the desirable classroom norms; on the other hand, the instructors themselves must undergo a process of change, as their habits and expectations are constructed within former experiences that may hinder the introduction of new norms. To alter classroom norms, instructors need to engage in a profound learning process, where they change their views and knowledge in the very process of applying new classroom practice. This session will focus on professional development of lab instructors while implementing new classroom practices. It will encompass studies conducted in various contexts in terms of: A. the extent of the investigation, spanning from short instructional labs to multi-week projects; B. the stage in the learning continuum – high-school physics, introductory physics and upper-division labs.
Abstract Type: Talk Symposium
Session Time: Parallel Sessions Cluster I

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Smadar Levy and Edit Yerushalmi
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel, Non U.S. Phone: 972503732966
and Co-Presenter(s)
Russell Clark;  Danny Doucette; Dimitri R. Dounas-Frazer; Eugenia Etkina; Dorothy Langley; Esther Magen; Joshua Rutberg; Chandralekha Singh; Zehorit Kapach;

Parallel Session Information

Activity Description: The session will include two parts: part a) 30 min for introduction and short summaries of the 5 talks; part b) 30 min for panel and open discussion
Proposed Discussion Questions: The various presentations discussed supporting instructors in establishing scientific norms in the lab – in different instructional contexts in terms of the extent of the investigations that students perform; and the stage in the learning continuum. The discussion will address the questions: What are the common and specific challenges that instructors grapple with in these settings? how should the support be adapted to these different and common challenges?

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Smadar Levy, Edit Yerushalmi
Presentation 1 Title: Professional development and struggles of beginning instructors teaching design labs
Presentation 1 Authors: Joshua Rutberg and Eugenia Etkina
Presentation 1 Abstract: Being a teacher in an instructional laboratory where students design their own experiments is not an easy task. Being a first year graduate TA who never taught before makes this challenge even harder. How do you guide the students to design a productive experiment? How do you teach them to communicate their findings? How do you create a learning community in your classroom? We will report on our work in an urban university where we implemented the Investigative Learning Environment (ISLE) approach in a large-enrollment introductory physics sequence (algebra and calculus based). A part of the approach involves students designing their own experiments in labs guided by specific questions and self-assessment rubrics. We describe professional development efforts, data collection (observation protocols) and their effects on the instruction and student learning and attitudes.
Presentation 2 Title: Making lab TA professional development work (and some evidence that it does)
Presentation 2 Authors: Danny Doucette, Chandralekha Singh and Russell Clark
Presentation 2 Abstract: At large universities, where introductory physics labs are often run by graduate student teaching assistants (TAs), it may be necessary to provide professional development for TAs in order to successfully implement inquiry-based lab learning, establish TA practices that support inclusive education in the lab, or effectively introduce other important lab practices. As part of a transformation of our introductory physics labs toward an inquiry-based model, we developed and implemented a research-based training program that includes relevant activities and role-playing while attempting to account for TA `buy-in'. Our analysis demonstrates a positive shift in TA views about student learning and an encouraging improvement in instructional behaviors for TAs who participated in our lab TA professional development program. We have also worked to build systems to both sustain and disseminate our lab TA professional development program and will briefly share some of these efforts.
Presentation 3 Title: Re-defining lab norms via professional learning communities of physics teachers
Presentation 3 Authors: Smadar Levy, Zehorit Kapach, Esther Magen and Edit Yerushalmi
Presentation 3 Abstract: We present a study of a large-scale intervention designed to shift lab instruction away from tightly prescribed lab norms. The intervention was implemented in a network of Professional Learning Communities of Israeli high-school physics teachers (N=250) operating in a high-stakes exam setting with limited resources, and catering to diverse groups of students. An introductory questionnaire examined the lab goals that the teachers valued, revealing a gap between teachers' optimal lab goals and prevailing ones, in particular as concerns experimental design. The intervention addressed both teachers' interest in change as well as the constraints imposed by the setting in which they work, by: a) modest restructuring of traditional labs: encouraging students to reflect on the considerations underlying the experimental design; b) involving teachers in collaborative reflection on classroom enactments of the restructured labs. Indeed, most teachers chose to carry out the restructured labs. We will describe barriers and affordances that the teachers identified when reflecting on their experience.
Presentation 4 Title: Taxonomy of teaching practices during group projects in lab courses
Presentation 4 Authors: Dimitri R. Dounas-Frazer
Presentation 4 Abstract: Compared to other formal learning environments in undergraduate physics programs, multiweek group projects in lab courses give rise to unique interactions between students, their peers, their instructors, and apparatus. What does teaching look like in these contexts? How do instructors change their teaching practices as students transition from proposing project topics to carrying out experiments and reporting on results? To answer these and related questions, we conducted a multiple case study of group project implementations in upper-division labs at five universities. In this presentation, we draw on data from interviews and surveys with instructors and students to identify a variety of teaching practices. We further describe the intended purposes and perceived impacts of these practices. Preliminary data analysis suggests that group projects may be a shared endeavor in which students and instructors have asymmetric apprenticeship-style roles and responsibilities.
Presentation 5 Title: Training teachers as physics research mentors: four personal development stories
Presentation 5 Authors: Dorothy Langley and Edit Yerushalmi
Presentation 5 Abstract: The Research Physics program, launched in 2016, offers Israeli high school physics majors extra credit for performing a research project guided by teacher-mentors. The 240 hour Research Physics Mentors' training program is designed as a fast-track framework taking novice teacher-mentors through a professional development process within a community of experts and peers. The practical component involves mentoring a student-pair for 18 months, from topic selection until the final exam. The program is based on a "structuring and problematizing" scaffolding process (Reiser, 2004), enabling the development and application of knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitudes.  During 2017-2019 a qualitative study, sketched profiles of four trainee teachers' professional development, describing how they maintained a viable mentoring process with their unique student team and research topic. The analysis of multiple evidence resources tracked issues of mentoring responsibility and scientific and mentoring knowledge, relating them to assignments and interactions with program leaders, students and peers.