ERG SES E 10, Teachers and Education
According to international standardized assessments, including the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS), students in the United States are performing poorly in comparison to students around the world. For example, in comparison with other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the United States came in 27th in mathematics, 17th in reading and 20th in science on the most recent PISA in 2012 (United States: Key Findings, n.d.). While students in the United States performed below the average of all participating countries in all three subjects assessed, Finnish students ranked 6th in mathematics, 3rd in reading and 2nd in science on the same assessment (“Opetus- Ja Kulttuuriministeriö,” n.d.).
A closer look into Finland’s educational system reveals not only that there is a strong emphasis on research-based approaches (Lauriala, 2013; Toom et al., 2010; Westbury, Hansén, Kansanen, & Björkvist, 2005; Jyrhämä et al., 2008; Sahlberg, 2011; Jakku-Sihvonen, Tissari, Ots, & Uusiautti, 2012), but that Finns have a different perspective on “quality teaching” compared to Americans. For example, literature about quality teaching in Finland concerns achieving the results set forth in the curriculum by means of an in-depth curriculum, aligned teaching methods and assessment, as well as strong pedagogical and scientific knowledge (Goldhaber, Liddle, & Theobald, 2013; Parpala & Lindblom-Ylänne, 2007), opposed to a focus on value-added measures (Ballou & Springer, 2015; Rice, 2003).
Given the emphasis on research-based approaches and differing views on quality teaching in Finland’s educational system within the context of international standardized assessments, the primary focus of my study was to better understand teacher education programs through the lenses of research-based approached, quality teaching, and assessment. This article focuses specifically on Finnish educators’ perspectives on quality teaching. The corresponding research question was “How do Finnish educators perceive quality teaching?” In order to dig deeper, this dissertation adopts the qualitative approach of narrative inquiry. This methodology, which was first coined by Connelly and Clandinin (1990), helps shed light on what we already know through existing quantitative data.
Connelly and Clandinin’s (2000) commonplace, including temporality, sociality, and place, provide the theoretical framework for this study. Together, temporality, sociality, and place form a three-dimensional space. The place of the study is the University of Helsinki, nestled within the capital and largest city of the country: Helsinki. Participants’ past, present, and future comprise the temporality. The University of Helsinki’s Department of Behavioral Sciences also has its own past, present, and future that plays a role in participants’ narratives. Further, participants’ internal conditions and relationships with others form the sociality. Participants’ relationships with one another, as well as with myself – the researcher – are also noteworthy.
Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of Experience and Narrative Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5), 2. doi: 10.2307/1176100 Craig, C. (2007). Story constellations: A narrative approach to contextualizing teachers’ knowledge of school reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(2), 173–188. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2006.04.014 Craig, C., Meijer, P. C., & Broeckmans, J. (2013). From teacher thinking to teachers and teaching: The evolution of a research community: Thirtieth anniversary volume of the International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching / edited by Cheryl J. Craig, Paulien C. Meijer, Jan Broeckmans. Bingley, England: Emerald Group Publishing. Deretchin, L. F., & Craig, C. J. (2007). International research on the impact of accountability systems. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education. Goldhaber, D., Liddle, S., & Theobald, R. (2013). The gateway to the profession: Assessing teacher preparation programs based on student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 34, 29–44. doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2013.01.011 Jakku-Sihvonen, R., Tissari, V., Ots, A., & Uusiautti, S. (2012). Teacher education curricula after the Bologna Process – a comparative analysis of written curricula in Finland and Estonia. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 56(3), 261–275. doi:10.1080/00313831.2011.581687 Jyrhämä, R., Kynäslahti, H., Krokfors, L., Byman, R., Maaranen, K., Toom, A., & Kansanen, P. (2008). The appreciation and realisation of research‐based teacher education: Finnish students’ experiences of teacher education. European Journal of Teacher Education, 31(1), 1–16. doi: 10.1080/02619760701844993 Lauriala, A. (2013). Changing in research paradigms and their impact on teachers and teacher education: A Finnish Case. From teacher thinking to teachers and teaching: The evolution of a research community (Vol. 19, Advances in Research on Teaching, pp. 569–595). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Books. Parpala, A., & Lindblom-Ylänne, S. (2007). University Teachers’ Conceptions Of Good Teaching In The Units Of High-Quality Education. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 33(3-4), 355-370. doi: 10.1016/j.stueduc.2007.07.009 Rice, J. (2003). Teacher quality: Understanding the effectiveness of teacher attributes (Rep.). Retrieved from Economic Policy Institute website: http://www.epi.org/publication/books_teacher_quality_execsum_intro/#ExecSum Sahlberg, P. (2011). Finnish lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York: Teachers College Press. Toom, A., Kynäslahti, H., Krokfors, L., Jyrhämä, R., Byman, R., Stenberg, K., & Kansanen, P. (2010). Experiences of a research-based approach to teacher education: Suggestions for future policies. European Journal of Education, 45(2), 331–344. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3435.2010.01432.x
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