By Helena Witzke
Dr. Charles Henderson, associate professor of physics, has just returned from Finland, where he was a visiting scholar at the University of Jyväskylä from March 12-15.
Henderson, who has a joint appointment with the Department of Physics and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education, focuses his research on understanding and promoting the spread of research-based teaching strategies in college-level STEM instruction (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
This is not Henderson’s first time at the University of Jyväskylä. In the spring of 2010, he received a Fulbright position to study at the University, hosted by the Finnish Institute for Educational Research. There, he expanded on his current research related to instructional reform in higher education, and also collaborated with faculty and graduate students in U.J.’s Department of Teacher Education.
Because of his previous work there, Henderson was asked to return by the leaders of U.J.’s Research-based Interactive Teaching and Learning Project, which seeks to develop interactive teaching methods within of its academic departments.
While there, Henderson gave a public lecture titled “Promoting and Supporting Pedagogical Change in Higher Education.” He also consulted with teams from each participating academic department, discussing with them the project’s goals, methods, and vision.
“It is amazing that, given the many differences in the higher education systems between Finland and the U.S., that the basic problems of creating changes in teaching practices are remarkably similar,” Henderson says of his experiences. “Being able to study these problems and solutions from different cultural perspectives allows researchers like myself to be able to better separate the core issues from the contextual or cultural issues.”
A widely published researcher, Henderson is currently the Physics Education Research Editor for the American Journal of Physics and a member of the National Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation.