Professional Competence in Academic Physics Teacher Education


The research project ProfiLe-P+ aims at an in-depth analysis of various aspects of validity concerning models and test instruments for physics teachers’ professional knowledge developed in the prior project ProfiLe-P. We will examine how professional competencies achieved in academic physics teacher education (focussing on the aspects content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)) affect the performance of teacher trainees in standard situations of physics teaching. According to Miller (1990) we differentiate between (a) tests for competence (in this case: using knowledge in PCK and CK to master teaching-related problems in a written test), (b) tests for performance (mastering standardized teaching situations), and (c) tests for professional action (observations of classroom action). We will develop standardized performance tests concerning two standard situations of teaching physics (planning physics teaching and analysing physics teaching) in addition to a performance test for explaining physics, which has already been developed in the prior project ProfiLe-P. One of our main research aim is to analyse how CK and PCK (measured by curricular valid test instruments) are used to master the standard situations of physics teaching and how these aspects of competence affect the quality of performance. In addition, we conduct a longitudinal survey to study on the development of (a) CK and PCK and (b) the performance in explaining physics during academic physics teacher education. The aim of this part of our project is to gain evidence for the development of competencies during academic teacher education and about the prognostic validity of our test instruments and models. We will conduct the longitudinal study with two different cohorts (basically Bachelor and Master students) including teacher trainees completing a long-term internship (one semester) at schools. We will especially focus on the development of the competencies and their relationship (e.g. the impact of CK on PCK, impact of PCK and CK on planning physics teaching) during this internship. We aim to include universities with very different concepts of teacher education and explore the impact of these concepts on competence development.

Aims and Research Questions

In order to evaluate academic teacher trainee programmes, we need valid diagnostic instruments to assess competencies achieved in academic teacher education programs. During the first funding period (project ProfiLe-P, c.f. relevant literature section) we developed models and paper-and-pencil test instruments for CK and PCK. These tests measure reliably different aspects of CK and PCK. Using these instruments we examined the relationship between CK and PCK more in detail. Whether or not this relationship depends on the progress of teacher trainees in their academic teacher education is an open question – that includes the question whether or not the models for CK and PCK are stabile during the educational progress. Even more, the analysis of construct validity regarding CK and PCK is an open research question. Therefore, in ProfiLe-P+ we will use the models and instruments developed in Profile-P (c.f. Riese et al., 2015) to collect arguments for further aspects of validity, among them nomological networks and the stability of the interdependence of CK and PCK during the academic teacher education. We will focus on three research aims. (1) Firstly we will analyse construct validity by using a nomological network that includes CK and PCK as well as the performances in planning and analysing physics teaching (c.f. Fig. 1). (2) Secondly we will analyse validity regarding prognostic validity and the stability of the interdependence of CK and PCK. (3) Thirdly we will gain first evidence about the impact of different academic teacher trainee programs by comparing the de-velopment of competencies for extreme groups of these programs. These groups will be formed based on characteristics of the program (e.g. the existence of long-term internships). Currently each university in Ger-many has a different concept for their academic teacher trainee program and some of them differ a lot. Our research program might give some hints for successful elements of these programs.

Project Data

Project management:
Josef Riese
Christoph Kulgemeyer
Peter Reinhold
Andreas Borowski
Prof. Dr. Josef Riese, AG Didaktik der Physik und Technik,
I. Physikalisches Institut, RWTH Aachen
Sommerfeldstr. 14, D- 52074 Aachen
Tel. +49 241 80-27163

Prof. Dr. Andreas Borowski, Didaktik der Physik, Universität Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 24/25, D-14476 Potsdam
Tel.: +49 331 977 1025

Dr. Christoph Kulgemeyer, Institut für Didaktik der Naturwissenschaften (IDN), Universität Bremen
Bibliothekstraße, D-28359 Bremen
Tel. +49 421 218-62782,

Dr. Christoph Vogelsang, AG Didaktik der Physik, Universität Paderborn,
Warburger Str. 100, D-33098 Paderborn
Tel. +49 5251/60 2680

April 2016- September 2019