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Physics Education Research Seminar: Studying cultural change in physics departments: Recognizing dominant and emergent cultural practices around assessment and educational change

Event Type
Physics Education Research Group
204 Loomis Lab
Jan 17, 2024   1:00 pm   2:00 pm
Dr. Chandra Turpen, University of Maryland
Devyn Shafer
Originating Calendar
Physics - Departmental Events

Leaders, policymakers, and researchers have called attention to the need to improve critical aspects of physics programs, from teaching and pedagogy to making physics more diverse and equitable. Such programmatic changes are challenging and require a second-order change to be effective. The Departmental Action Leadership Institute (DALI) is a community engagement activity of the Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) initiative, led in partnership by APS and AAPT. DALI works with undergraduate physics programs to effectively design and implement departmental change. Each participating program sends a pair of faculty members (change leaders) who attend ongoing DALI meetings for one year to learn about and implement effective change practices. During that year, these change leaders create and facilitate local teams based on the Department Action Team (DAT) model. These local DATs pursue the change departments’ change efforts. In our research study, we developed case studies of five DALI-active physics programs from two DALI cohorts. We use a cultural practice lens to document the dominant and emerging cultures in departments related to how physics faculty approach change work. We see evidence of DALI participants' growing awareness of taken-for-granted assumptions about educational change processes within their departmental cultures and coming to recognize and value alternative ways of collaborating and enacting change in their local contexts. For example, we found that while faculty in the department typically approach change work in a rushed and ad-hoc way, ignoring the use of formal evidence, DALI faculty participants take a deliberate and strategic approach to departmental change, centering formal evidence within their DATs. In this talk, I will show how the emerging micro-culture is situated within the dominant departmental culture. This work has implications for conceptualizing cultural change and the development of change leadership, which can guide evolving efforts within the physics community to improve undergraduate education.

 Those who would like to schedule an individual meeting with Dr. Turpen may contact Devyn Shafer (deshafe2@illinois.edu).


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