10 SES 02 B, Research and Practice in Teacher Education
In recent years, Scottish education has witnessed a great deal of change in a number of interlocking policy areas including teacher education, professional learning and leadership; school curriculum; and teaching standards and accountability.
At the heart of this wider policy move is ‘Teaching Scotland’s Future’ (TSF; Donaldson, 2011), a fairly recent teacher education policy. This policy document highlighted the importance of ‘teacher quality’ for student attainment, and proposed a radical redesign of teacher education provision in Scotland. However, its overarching aim was to ‘reinvigorate’ teacher professionalism, in order to allow teachers to develop as “reflective, accomplished and enquiring professionals” (Donaldson, 2011, p. 14). Central to this vision is the claim that teachers should be “agents of change, not passive or reluctant receivers of externally-imposed prescription” (Donaldson 2011, p. 18), and this increasing focus on ‘teacher agency’ also appears in recent curriculum policy in Scotland and internationally (Biesta, Priestley and Robinson, 2015; Priestley, 2011).
At the heart of Donaldson’s vision of teacher professionalism is the drive for teachers to engage with educational research. Arguably, this can take many forms, but is most often aligned with the concept of ‘professional enquiry’. Shortly after the publication of TSF, the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) introduced its new standard for career-long professional learning (CLPL) as well as a programme of Professional Update (PU). Both the PU and the standard for CLPL require teachers to engage with research, whether that be reading research articles, engaging in Masters level study or conducing their own teacher research. This requires a significant culture shift within the profession, but we are starting to see some changes.
One example of where this has been put into practice is Hutcheson’s Grammar School, which is a private school based within the city of Glasgow. They have developed their own research centre (Hutcheson’s Centre for Research; HCR), which provides a structure and additional support for teachers and pupils to conduct independent research. The HCR can be seen as an example of a system that supports teachers to develop the skills they need to become researchers, to put this research knowledge into practice and to begin to ask critical questions about the nature of educational reform, and thus provides an excellent site in which to explore issues around teacher engagement with research.
This paper draws on research carried out within the HCR, which is being conducted in partnership between the University of Strathclyde and Hutcheson’s Grammar School. The overall aim of the project is to explore the development of teachers as researchers. This paper will shed light on the following questions:
1) To what extent do those teachers who participate in research see themselves as ‘researchers’?
2) What are the drivers and barriers to teacher engagement with research and the development of teachers as researchers?
3) What is the relationship between teacher research and professional learning? To what extent can this knowledge be put into practice?
4) To what extent do those teachers who engage with research consider themselves as ‘agents of change’?
This paper is framed in part by Archer’s (1995) realist social theory and draws on the work of Emirbayer and Mische (1998) and their conceptualisation of agency as a configuration of forces from the past, future orientations and present engagement. This paper has also been influenced by the recent work of Priestley and colleagues (e.g. Biesta, Priestely and Robinson (2015, p. 624), which theorises teachers’ agency as “their active contribution to shaping their work and its conditions”.
Archer, M. (1995). Realist social theory: the morphogenic approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2015). The role of beliefs in teacher agency. Teachers and teaching: theory and practice, 21, 624-640. Donaldson, G. (2011). Teaching Scotland’s Future: Report of a Review of teacher Education in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998). What is agency? American Journal of Sociology, 103, 962-1023. Priestley, M. (2011). Whatever happened to curriculum theory? Critical realism and curriculum change. Pedagogy, culture and society, 19, 221-237.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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