Julie A. Luft


Professor of Mathematics and Science Education College of Education, University of Georgia

Julie A. Luft is a University of Georgia Distinguished Research Professor and the Athletic Association Professor of Mathematics and Science Education in the Mary Francis Early College of Education. She is also a Fellow of the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA), American Association for the Advancement of Science and Owens Institute of Behavioral Research, as well as a former Fulbright scholar. Her longstanding research interest pertains to secondary science teachers, which has included longitudinal studies of teachers in their first years of teaching. With this body of work, she has articulated the importance of discipline-specific induction programing. Her current studies are focused on school leaders and their work with newly hired science teachers. When not engaged in research in school settings, she teaches in the initial certification and graduate science education programs. Working with graduate students at her university and internationally is a passion of hers. Her commitment to the science education community is extensive and includes being an Associate Editor of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, president of the Association of Science Teacher Education, and on the board of NARST and NSTA. A highlight of her career was serving on the 2015 National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report on science teacher learning. 

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Looking towards the future: What we can and should learn from newly hired teachers of science
Studies in the field of science teacher education are often bound by topics essential to the teacher education enterprise. These topics are pursued to understand different aspects of teacher education, including those under the canopy of ‘what teachers can learn, know, and do.’ Educational researchers who are centered on teachers often focus their studies on teachers engaged in initial teacher preparation or professional development programs. While these are important groups of teachers to examine, newly hired teachers are a group in need of study. Their unique position within time and place is necessary to contemplate and explore, but poses a challenge for educational researchers to access. As a group, newly hired science teachers can reveal the drawbacks, dimensionality, and durability of the learning to teach process. These contemporary insights will come from the utilization of new and different methodological and theoretical approaches. With an expanded body of knowledge about the ongoing process of learning to teach science, there is potential to blur some of the boundaries that exist between initial and in-service teacher education, and theory and practice orientations found in science teacher education. Studies of newly hired teachers (and aligned variations) will contribute knowledge to the field of science teacher education. Collectively, these studies will challenge traditional views of what teachers can learn, know, and do; and help map a new course that ensures transformation and innovation in science teacher education and science teacher education research.

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