Supporting Equitable Teaching Through Collaborative Planning In Advanced Placement Physics Classes

A study was carried out to investigate the effects of two different teachers on their Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 1 courses and how collaboration between them affected the students. The main research question: How can collaboration among physics teachers enhance learning experiences for all students enrolled? The sub-questions focused on looking at what differences existed and how collaboration could promote equity between the student groups. Two classes, each taught by different teachers, were part of this study. The study consisted of a series of four lessons which were planned at various levels of collaboration. Students participated in surveys after each lesson. The two participating teachers were interviewed. At the end of the students’ unit of study data was collected through an exam to investigate the level of retention and application from each lesson. It was found that the students benefited from teaching which was based on lessons that the teacher used before. Student performance during formative assessment questions in the post-lesson surveys were several percentage points higher following lessons where the teacher had taught a similar lesson in the past. It was also found that teachers who were teaching lessons that had been planned by the other teacher felt less comfortable when presenting the lessons. This finding was chiefly based on post-lesson interview responses where teachers shared difficulties relating to teaching unfamiliar content. Finally, it was found that teachers participating in a collaboratively planned lesson felt the lesson was more balanced (based on interviews) and the data suggests students responded well to this lesson (based on the surveys and final document collection). Based on these findings, it is recommended that teachers are not required to teach pre-planned lessons, but instead should play an active role in developing the curriculum and co-planning the lessons. As well, it is recommended that teachers take opportunities to collaboratively plan lessons, both for the benefit of their students and their own professional development.