How Physics Courses Can Make Highly Valued Strategies and Dispositions Visible to Physics Teacher Students

Susanne Engström 1 * , Per Norström 1
More Detail
1 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, SWEDEN
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp. 396-411.
OPEN ACCESS   114 Views   78 Downloads
Download Full Text (PDF)


Students who aim to become physics teachers for secondary education partake in physics courses together with other physics students. The aim of this study is to understand what is valued, taken for granted, and possibly reproduced in physics teaching given for future secondary school physics teachers. This study is based on observations in classrooms, in two courses conducted over a three-year period. Field notes are thematically analyzed and themes emerge about dispositions and strategies that are valued in the teaching context. The courses’ teachers are engaged in pedagogical development and explicitly dissociate themselves from traditional physics teaching. They stress the value of student participation. Physics is described as a difficult, important, and beautiful science. To be passionate about physics is highly valued, as is a willingness to work hard and collaborate. The modern physics researcher is put forward as an ideal. Students are encouraged to plan for a future in physics research, while teaching and pre-university physics are never mentioned as career options. Course teachers distance themselves from traditional teaching methods but stick to traditional views of learning outcomes and the students’ future careers. This study shows, for example, how new teaching methods do not necessarily lead to new values. This could be seen as an implication for further research.


Engström, S., & Norström, P. (2022). How Physics Courses Can Make Highly Valued Strategies and Dispositions Visible to Physics Teacher Students. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 10(4), 396-411.


  • Aikenhead, G. (1996). Science education: Border crossing into the subculture of science. Studies in Science Education, 27(1), 1-52.
  • Aikenhead, G. (2006). Science education for everyday life. Evidence-based practice. Teachers College Press.
  • Angell, C., Guttersrud, Ø., Henriksen, E. K., & Isnes, A. (2004). Physics: Frightful, but fun. Pupils’ and teachers’ view of physics and physics teaching. Science Education, 88, 683-706.
  • Börjesson, M., Broady, D., Le Roux, B., Lidegran, I., & Palme, M. (2016). Cultural capital in the elite subfield of Swedish higher education. Poetics, 56, 15-34.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1996). The state nobility. Elite schools in the field of power. Blackwell & Polity Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2000). Konstens regler: Det litterära fältets uppkomst och struktur [Tricks of the trade: The emergence and structure of the literary field]. In Proceedings of Brutus Östlings.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2004). Science of science and reflexivity. The University of Chicago Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2005). Udkast til en praksisteori–indledt af Tre studier i kabylsk etnologi [Sketch for a theory of practice. Introduction to three studies in Kabyle ethnology]. Hans Reitzels Forlag.
  • Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (1979). The inheritors. French students and their relation to culture. The University of Chicago Press.
  • Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (1990). Reproduction in education, society and culture. Sage Publications.
  • Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.-C. (2008). Reproduktionen. Bidrag till en teori om utbildningssystemet [Reproduction. A contribution to a theory about the educational system]. Arkiv förlag.
  • Bourdieu, P., de Saint Martin, M., & Passeron, J.-C. (1994). Academic discourse: Linguistic misunderstanding and professional power. Polity Press.
  • Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.
  • Carlhed, C. (2011). Fält, habitus och kapital som kompletterande redskap i professionsforskning [Field, habitus and capital as supplementary tools in research on profession]. Socialvetenskaplig Tidskrift [Journal of Social Sciences], 18(4), 283-300.
  • Carlone, H. B. (2004). The cultural production of science in reform-based physics: Girls’ access, participation, and resistance. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(4), 392-414.
  • Duit, R. (2014). Teaching and learning the physics energy concept. In R. F. Chen, A. Eisenkraft, D. Fortus, J. Krajcik, K. Neumann, J. Nordine, & A. Scheff (Eds.), Teaching and learning of energy in K-12 education (pp. 67-85). Springer.
  • Engström, S. (2011). Att vördsamt värdesätta eller tryggt trotsa. Gymnasiefysiken, undervisningstraditioner och fysiklärares olika strategier för energiundervisning [To humbly value or safely defy. Upper secondary school physics, traditions in teaching and physics teachers’ strategies for teaching energy] [Doctoral dissertation, Mälardalen University, Sweden]. Mälardalen University Press dissertations 100.
  • Engström, S., & Carlhed, C. (2014). Different habitus – different strategies in teaching physics? Relationships between teachers’ social, economic and cultural capital and strategies in teaching physics in upper secondary school. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 9(3), 699-728.
  • Harding, S. (1991). Whose science? Whose knowledge? Thinking from women’s lives. Cornell University Press.
  • Harding, S. (2006). Science and social inequality. Feminist and postcolonial issues. Race and gender in science studies. University of Illinois Press.
  • Hasse, C. (2002). Gender diversity in play with physics: The problem of premises for participation in activities. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 9(4), 250-269.
  • Höttecke, D. Henke, A., & Riess, F. (2012). Implementing history and philosophy in science teaching: Strategies, methods, results and experiences from the European HIPST project. Science and Education, 21(9), 1233-1261.
  • Johansson, A. (2015). Uniformity in physics courses and student diversity: A study of learning to participate in physics [Licentiate thesis, Uppsala University].
  • Johansson, A. (2018). The formation of successful physics students: Discourse and identity perspectives on university physics [Doctoral dissertation, Uppsala University].
  • Keller, E. F. (1992). Secrets of life, secrets of death. Routledge.
  • Lemke, J. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning and values. Language and educational processes. Ablex Publishing.
  • Lemke, J. (2001). Articulating communities: Sociocultural perspectives on science education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(3), 296-316.<296::AID-TEA1007>3.0.CO;2-R
  • Lemke, J. (2011). The secret identity of science education: Masculine and politically conservative? Cultural Studies of Science Education, 6, 287-292.
  • Lövheim, D. (2006). Att inteckna framtiden–Läroplansdebatter gällande naturvetenskap, matematik och teknik i svenska allmänna läroverk 1900-1965 [Securing the future: Curriculum debates concerning science, mathematics and technology in Swedish secondary schools 1900-1965] [Doctoral dissertation, Uppsala University].
  • Roth, W.-M., & Lee, S. (2002). Scientific literacy as collective praxis. Public Understanding of Science, 11(1), 33-56.
  • Swedish Research Council. (2017). Good research practice. Swedish Research Council.
  • Tobin, K. (2009). Difference as a resource for learning and enhancing science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(4), 755-760.
  • Van Eijck, M. (2013). Reflexivity and diversity in science education research in Europe: Towards cultural perspectives. In N. Mansour, R. Wegerif, C. Milne, C. Siry, & M. P. Mueller (Eds.), Science education for diversity, cultural studies of science education (pp. 65-78). Springer.
  • Webb, S., Burke, P. J., Nichols, S., Roberts, S., Stahl, G., Threadgold, S., & Wilkinson, J. (2017). Thinking with and beyond Bourdieu in widening higher education participation. Studies in Continuing Education, 39(2), 138-160.