New book chapter on Physics Teacher Professional Learning

Congratulations to Dr. Eilish McLoughlin, former CASTeL Director, on her book chapter and leadership as Section Editor in the International Handbook of Physics Education Research: Teaching Physics. This seminal handbook covers the topics of educational technologies, learning environments, teacher education, and assessment in relation to physics education. As the field of physics education research grows, it is increasingly difficult for newcomers to gain an appreciation of the major findings across all sub-domains, discern global themes, and recognize gaps in the literature. The current volume incorporates the understanding of both physics and education concepts and provides an extensive review the literature in a wide range of important topics.

Eilish was responsible as section editor for research on “Physics Teacher Education” which presents a comprehensive overview of research studies that examine structures, strategies, and challenges to the professional learning of teachers of physics across the educational levels from early childhood to university level. Teachers are recognized as the most important influencing factor for students’ learning outside of the students themselves. Yet, many physics classes are taught by teachers who lack the content and/or pedagogical knowledge for teaching physics. While the issue of out-of-field teaching varies between and even within countries, the presence of non-qualified and unconfident physics teachers has become a global challenge. This review highlights that only through a combined effort in the design of physics teacher education programs, accompanying research, and additional initiatives for recruitment, will it become possible to provide the type of physics instruction to learners (of all ages) that will spark interest in the subject and prepare literate citizens of the future.

Eilish co-authored the chapter on Physics Teacher Professional Learning with Dr Dagmara Sokolowska from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland . This chapter explores frameworks, strategies, and models of physics teacher professional learning, encompassing physics teachers at the start of their teaching careers and throughout the lifetime of their teaching careers. Opportunities for physics teacher professional learning in different educational systems is outlined, including the transnational mobility program offered to teachers in Europe. The research indicates that the focus of in-service physics teacher education generally consists of developing teachers’ physics content knowledge with some focus on developing teacher’s pedagogical content knowledge for teaching physics. Strategies for reflective, collaborative interaction between teachers and researchers, focused on reinforcing teacher’s confidence in teaching physics and developing their competencies for long-life learning are presented. This chapter surmises that in-service education programmes that support collaborative communities in which teachers can openly discuss their current problems of practice in an atmosphere that respects everyone’s opinions and needs can be conducive for deepening teacher professional learning and development. Developing physics teacher’s research literacy, achieved through either small-scale inquiries conducted by teachers in their classrooms or by learning about the research-based teaching practices from other educators and researchers, should also be promoted. Overall, this chapter explores the state-of-the-art of teacher professional development and how these strategies can be utilised to support physics teachers in designing teaching and learning activities that address the needs of future physics learners.

To access this chapter please visit or contact Dr. Eilish McLoughlin.