03 SES 11 B, Curriculum Development in Teacher Education
From a macroscopic point of view, trends that shape European Higher Education policies in recent years are: the importance of attracting more students (European Commission, 2013); the idea that HE must be accountable to society (Nóvoa, 2011) and the clear awareness that there is no university without science (and research) (European Commission 2010) . Never before it was so required that HE institutions train "students to think what others are not able to think; train students to say what others cannot say and train them to do what others have failed, before” (Nóvoa, 2011).
This is a challenge to HE curricula, as well as to HE teachers‘ training, that emphasizes the importance of pedagogical issues, and promote a dialog with other epistemic cultures to develop HE curricula in a close relationship with knowledge society aims (Nowotny, et al, 2001).
The broad awareness of the changing nature of HE purposes is viewed as an institutional quality factor that could be sustained by new ways of teachers’ training. In the present proposal it is argued that multidisciplinary peer observation could be both an effective way of teachers’ training and an opportunity to improve their knowledge of curriculum development.
Encompassing this idea, this paper stresses the importance of the collaborative work between teachers coming from different epistemic cultures. This is also important to challenge the conventional roles of teachers as they are perceived in the knowledge society.
The importance of peer observation as a collaborative training practice is associated with this change in the pedagogical paradigm and its key issues: “ the focus on learning, the strengthening of the teacher-student and student-student interactions, the inclusion of collaborative work strategies and learning based on autonomy and reflection” (Fernandes et al,2013), and the changing nature of teaching in HE.
It is also associated with an improved lecturers’ awareness of curriculum development. In the present study, this is understood as the ability to organize lectures in order to promote learning in a coherent way, meaningful to students, and clearly oriented to a final profile of graduate.
There is a large set of research regarding peer observation, focusing different aims and purposes of the complex world of teaching: evaluation, professional development and peer review (Gosling, 2002; Chism, 2007).The first two are mainly related with unidirectional processes and are asymmetric in the relationship between observer and observed. The third is based in a more balanced and reciprocal relationship and usually allows a mutual benefit for both observer and observed (Bell, 2008).
However there is some reluctance to participate in peer observation activities as it exposes teachers to criticism, namely centered on specific knowledge domain (O’Keefe et al, 2009). Therefore, multidisciplinary peer observation could overcome this problem as peer observation will be focused on teaching and learning and not on lecturers’ knowledge. Moreover, it could provide an external look on the coherence of the process of curriculum development leaded by the observed lecturer.
The University of Porto (Portugal) has been undertaking, since 2009, a program of MPO, among some of its Faculties. The program was launched to provide opportunities for feedback on teaching and constitute a voluntary lecturers’ training model. (Mouraz et al, 2013) After four years, the program is still running and its main advantages are related with the close relationships established between lecturers from different Faculties and the sense of “belonging” it arose. However, the study of pedagogical changes made by lecturers after participating in the multidisciplinary peer observation experience was not performed, neither a further reflection on effects of multidisciplinary approach in teaching roles (namely at networked collaborative learning among lecturers concerning curriculum development).
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