Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Eric Brewe

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

David T. Brookes

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Laird H. Kramer

Fourth Advisor's Name

Leonard Bliss



Date of Defense



The purpose of this mixed methods study was to understand physics Learning Assistants’ (LAs) views on reflective teaching, expertise in teaching, and LA program teaching experience and to determine if views predicted level of reflection evident in writing. Interviews were conducted in Phase One, Q methodology was used in Phase Two, and level of reflection in participants’ writing was assessed using a rubric based on Hatton and Smith’s (1995) “Criteria for the Recognition of Evidence for Different Types of Reflective Writing” in Phase Three.

Interview analysis revealed varying perspectives on content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and experience in relation to expertise in teaching. Participants revealed that they engaged in reflection on their teaching, believed reflection helps teachers improve, and found peer reflection beneficial. Participants believed teaching experience in the LA program provided preparation for teaching, but that more preparation was needed to teach.

Three typologies emerged in Phase Two. Type One LAs found participation in the LA program rewarding and believed expertise in teaching does not require expertise in content or pedagogy, but it develops over time from reflection. Type Two LAs valued reflection, but not writing reflections, felt the LA program teaching experience helped them decide on non-teaching careers and helped them confront gaps in their physics knowledge. Type Three LAs valued reflection, believed expertise in content and pedagogy are necessary for expert teaching, and felt LA program teaching experience increased their likelihood of becoming teachers, but did not prepare them for teaching.

Writing assignments submitted in Phase Three were categorized as 19% descriptive writing, 60% descriptive reflections, and 21% dialogic reflections. No assignments were categorized as critical reflection. Using ordinal logistic regression, typologies that emerged in Phase Two were not found to be predictors for the level of reflection evident in the writing assignments.

In conclusion, viewpoints of physics LAs were revealed, typologies among them were discovered, and their writing gave evidence of their ability to reflect on teaching. These findings may benefit faculty and staff in the LA program by helping them better understand the views of physics LAs and how to assess their various forms of reflection.



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