ERG SES D 06, Education and Pre-Service Teachers
Solving problems is a kind of complex cognitive skill and is one of the most intelligent human activities. The problems can be classified into two kinds: puzzle problems which require very little background knowledge and yet can be very difficult to solve; and domain problems which require enough domain knowledge in order to solve this kind of problems such as solving mathematics problems and completing physics calculations. What we want to focus on in this research is the problem solving ability of teachers and how teachers cope with those puzzle problems in classroom. The problem solving ability of a teacher is an accumulation of skills, not an innate ability. Researches demonstrated that experienced teachers have a better problem solving ability than novice teachers (Swanson, O'Connor and Cooney, 1990). The reason for this phenomenon is not that expert teachers acquire more theory knowledge than novice teachers but that they have more teaching experience than pre-service teachers. This teaching experience comprises the knowledge structure of expert teachers that attributes to the solution of classroom problems. So, we can find that different teachers have different knowledge structures because of teaching experience. In other words, the problem solving ability of teachers is a kind of personal knowledge.
This kind of personal knowledge cannot be taught. Expert teachers have limited ability to tell others how to deal with classroom problems when they are asked, but they can use their personal knowledge properly when encountering the real situation. What expert teachers know is more than what they can tell. There is a concept that describes the characters of this kind of knowledge. It is called tacit knowledge and it is a philosophical concept. Polanyi coined the term of tacit knowledge in the 1950s. According to the knowledge theory of Polanyi, there are two kinds of knowledge: one is about “know what ”(explicit knowledge) and the other one is about “know how”(tacit knowledge (Polanyi,1958). The problem-solving abilities of teachers in classrooms involve tacit knowledge, because these kinds of abilities are about “know how” rather than “know that”. Tacit knowledge is this kind of practical knowledge that can be acquired from experience. The problem-solving abilities of teachers is tacit knowledge that can be obtained from teaching experience.
There are more and more researchers (Kane,1982; Gill,2000; Morgan,2008) are interested in this topic, though most of the research is concentrating on making tacit knowledge explicit, the translation between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge There are also some researches who have realized the importance of tacit knowledge in the field of education, especially in teacher education. Poulson (2001) found that the most important part of teachers’ knowledge is not the subject knowledge but the unarticulated pedagogical knowledge. Hargreaves(1999) tried to learn the knowledge-creation model from the management field as he found some strategies which are also useful in education. Freeman (1991) has done educational experiments in order to find ways to make tacit knowledge explicit.
However, we still cannot know the nature of tacit knowledge unless we understand its development process. In other words, we need to know how tacit knowledge is formed or how a person acquires some kinds of tacit knowledge. If we know how teachers develop the problem-solving abilities in classroom, then, we can make this kind of tacit knowledge explicit, at least to some extent. Although tacit knowledge cannot be articulated by words, the development process can be described by words. That is the research purpose of this study.
Bohnsack,R. (2010), ‘Documentary Method and Group Discussion’, in Bohnsack /Pfaff and Weller 2010.pp.99-124. Freeman,D.(1991), “To Make the Tacit Explicit”: Teacher Education,Emerging Discourse, and Conceptions of Teaching.Teaching and Teacher Education,7,439-454. Hargreaves,D.H.(1999),The Knowledge-creating School.British Journal of Educational Studies, 47(2),122-144. Morgan,K.K.(2008), Does Polanyi’s Tacit Knowledge Dimension Exist? Polanyi Society Conference, June 2008 at Loyola University,Chicago. Polanyi,M.(1958), Personal Knowledge:Towards a Post-critical Philosophy. Chicago:University of Chicago Press. Poulson,L.(2001), Paradigm Lost? Subject Knowledge,Primary Teachers and Education Policy. British Journal of Educational Studies, 49(1),40-55. Raingruber, B. (2003). Video-cued Narrative Reflection: A Research Approach for Articulating Tacit, Relational, and Embodied Understandings. Qualitative Health Research 2003 (13), Sage Publications. Swanson,H.L.and O'Connor,J.E. and Cooney,J.B.(1990), An Information Processing Analysis of Expert and Novice Teachers' Problem Solving. American Educational Research Journal,27(3), 533-556. Wood, N. (2012), Silent Witness, Using Video to Record and Transmit Tacit Knowledge in Creative Practices. In: ALMEVIK, Gunnar, (ed.) Hantverkare Emellan / Between Craftspersons. Mariestad, University of Gothenburg, Craft Laboratory.. (In Press) Yin, R. K.(2009). Case Study Research: Desighs and Methods. Sage Publications,USA
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