Portraiture and the Large Lecture: Storying One Chemistry Professor's Practical Knowledge
Eddleton, Jeannine E.
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Practical knowledge, as defined by Freema Elbaz (1983), is a complex, practically oriented set of understandings which teachers use to actively shape and direct their work. The goal of this study is the construction of a social science portrait that illuminates the practical knowledge of a large lecture professor of general chemistry at a public research university in the southeast. This study continues Elbaz's (1981) work on practical knowledge with the incorporation of a qualitative and intentionally interventionist methodology which "blurs the boundaries of aesthetics and empiricism in an effort to capture the complexity, dynamics, and subtlety of human experience and organizational life," (Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis, 1997). This collection of interviews, observations, writings, and reflections is designed for an eclectic audience with the intent of initiating conversation on the topic of the large lecture and is a purposeful attempt to link research and practice. Social science portraiture is uniquely suited to this intersection of researcher and researched, the perfect combination of methodology and analysis for a project that is both product and praxis. The following research questions guide the study. Are aspects of Elbaz's practical knowledge identifiable in the research conversations conducted with a large lecture college professor? Is practical knowledge identifiable during observations of Patricia's large lecture chemistry classroom practice? Freema Elbaz conducted research conversations with Sarah, a high school classroom and writing resource teacher who conducted much of her teaching work one on one with students. Patricia's practice differs significantly from Sarah's with respect to subject matter and to scale.
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