Initial Findings: Factor 1

Once the Q-Sorts were completed, the sorts were correlated and factors were identified. A factor is a grouping of participants who rank the Q-sort item statements in a similar way. Each factor represents a different viewpoint, and when people load on, or fall into, a factor this indicates that they have a shared viewpoint. Some participants may not load on any of the factors because they have ranked the statements in a unique way. After the pre- and post- Q-sorts at the Monticello Teacher Institute, four factors emerged, each with a unique focus:

Factor 1: Historical Pedagogical Content Knowledge Focus

Factor 2: Monticello-Learning from the Experts Focus

Factor 3: Monticello-Learning from Peers/Colleagues Focus

Factor 4: Focus on Relevance (relating history to current real life situations)

Factor 1 can be characterized as having a historical pedagogical content knowledge focus: these are the teachers focused on bringing complex historical knowledge to their students in a comprehensible way. The group was comprised of six teachers at the beginning of the Institute, and seven teachers after the Institute (five stayed on the factor throughout).

The teachers in Factor 1 consistently ranked the following statements as “most like me:”

Professional Development at historic sites affects my development as a teacher by:

24: Helping me develop critiques of “common knowledge” about historical events and persons.

44: Providing opportunities to actively reflect on my teaching practice.

The teachers in this factor consistently ranked the following statements as “least like me:”

Professional Development at historic sites affects my development as a teacher by:

25: Making it clear that we cannot understand the motivation of people from the past in studying history, and shouldn’t try.

11: Helping me to see the superiority of America’s culture to other world cultures.

The following statements emerged in a repeated pattern that helped the research team distinguish Factor 1 as a unique grouping:

Professional Development at historic sites affects my development as a teacher by:

1: Providing the true story of American history.

Note: This was interpreted by the participants as meaning that the program offered a focus on accuracy, not orthodoxy.

24: Helping me develop critiques of “common knowledge” about historical events and persons.

Note: This was interpreted by the participants as meaning they could work on myth-busting.

43: Giving me the opportunity to build a network of peers who share my content interests.

44: Providing opportunities to actively reflect on my teaching practice.

55: Providing me with refreshing time to spend with peers.

Note: This statement more frequently emerged as part of the factor after the program.

The teachers defined by this factor believe that professional development could provide skills to critique common knowledge about historical events and people, and as one participant mentioned, “If I can figure a way to break it down when they don’t get it, and figure out what they don’t get, then I can make it more real so they can see the big picture.” In addition, teachers characterized by having a historical pedagogical content knowledge focus believed the institute provided opportunities to reflect on their teaching practice and find refreshing time to spend with peers. One teacher explained how she valued the time shared with peers at Monticello to focus on pedagogical content, as “the people I know don’t support what I do. I just break myself away from them and go to my own little world.” This group struck a balance between their interests in content, building a professional network, and making material accessible to students. The project team is curious to see how the follow-up Q-Sorts further our understanding of this group.

Discover

Discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *