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  1. Purpose Personas are lifelike characters that are driven by potential or real users’ personal goals and experiences when interacting with a product. Personas support user-centered design by focusing on real users’ needs. However, the use of personas in educational research and design requires certain adjustments from its original use in human-computer interface design. This paper aims to propose a process of creating personas from phenomenographic studies, which helps us create data-grounded personas effectively. Design/methodology/approach Personas have features that can help address design problems in educational contexts. The authors compare the use of personas with other common methodologies in education research, including phenomenology and phenomenography. Then, this study presents a six-step process of building personas using phenomenographic study as follows: articulate a design problem, collect user data, assemble phenomenographic categories, build personas, check personas and solve the design problem using personas. The authors illustrate this process with two examples, including the redesign of a professional development website and an undergraduate research program design. Findings The authors find that personas are valuable tools for educational design websites and programs. Phenomenography can productively help educational designers and researchers build sets of personas following the process the authors propose. Originality/value The use and methodmore »of personas in educational contexts are scarce and vague. Using the example contexts, the authors provide educational designers and researchers a clear method of creating personas that are relatable and applicable for their design problems.« less
  2. Instructor professional development in physics often focuses on a linear path towards using research-based teaching methods. However, this does not reflect how instructors frame their teaching. Instead, we propose a professional development focus on supporting physics instructors' creativity in teaching. Creativity is important as instructors teach in diverse contexts and hold diverse educational values. Creativity research indicates that having a well-structured space to explore many ideas can support creativity. We investigate this for the case of PhysPort, a website for physics professional development. We present results from interviews with PhysPort users, to show how they joyfully explore, feel trust in materials on the site because they are research-based, and use ideas from PhysPort creatively. We also discuss how better site organization could support users' creativity more. Through this case study, we encourage designers of instructor professional development to consider supporting instructors' teaching creativity as a key goal.
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    PhysPort is a professional development website for physics faculty to develop their teaching through research-based resources. As part of PhysPort's ongoing research efforts, we conducted interviews with 23 physics faculty from diverse instructional and institutional contexts in the US. From our interviews, we sought common experiences, motivations, and pain points to develop personas--person-like constructs--of physics faculty in the US. Our research focuses on the perspectives of the key users of our site, and thus we take a user-centered perspective rather than a researcher-centered perspective. We developed personas, which are person-like constructs that are developed based on salient characteristics of actual users, that enable designers to create resources to meet actual user needs without designing for the idiosyncrasies of specific users. We present our set of six personas of physics faculty members: a faculty member who is new to improving his teaching; one who takes up his department's practices; one who wants her teaching to feel good; one who is comfortable in her teaching; one who is continuously improving; and one who solves big problems in her department. These personas of physics faculty making changes to their teaching can be used more broadly to improve the design and development of professionalmore »development resources and activities for physics faculty.« less