Plenary Speaker Profile (2023-24)
Clausell Mathis
Michigan State University
Culture-Based Approaches to Physics Instruction

Physics faculty and secondary teachers have a variety of methods at their disposal to embrace a culturally based approach to teaching. In this context, we want to spotlight the endeavors of professional learning communities composed of physics instructors. These educators have made deliberate efforts to infuse culture-based pedagogical elements into their classrooms, focusing on three key areas: (1) cultivating a strong physics teacher identity, (2) designing effective curricula, and (3) assessing the impact of curriculum materials on students' comprehension of physics concepts. The outcomes of this study reveal that these instructors exhibit notable signs of employing culturally relevant pedagogy. They demonstrate a willingness to tackle sensitive subjects, consistently motivate students to strive for academic excellence, and adapt their curricula to incorporate students' strengths. Despite these positive aspects, instructors still face certain challenges. These challenges include encouraging students to adopt a critical stance toward physics knowledge and effectively managing students' ability to take charge of their own learning process. The implications of the research findings are significant for physics instructors aiming to implement culturally relevant pedagogy in their teaching methodologies.

Dr. Clausell Mathis is an assistant professor at Michigan State University where he has a joint appointment with Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Teacher Education. At Lyman Briggs College he teaches physics and the senior capstone course. His research interests include examining how physics instructors can optimally incorporate culture- based equitable approaches in the classroom where teachers leverage students cultural resources and build connections to physics phenomena. He earned his Ph.D at Florida State University, and did his postdoc at the University of Washington, Seattle, working with the Physics Education Group.