10 SES 04 B, Programmes and Approaches: Teacher as researcher
The study analysed the reflectiveness of ten student teachers participating in an international research project in Shanghai and English primary schools. The paper examines the ways in which engaging in a collective, international research project stimulated these student teachers’ reflective capacities. The research questions about the reflections of these pre-service teachers were:
(1) What kinds of learning could be found in student teachers’ reflections about the research processes they undertook?
(2) How did these student teachers view research and their development as researchers during the research process?
The pre-service teachers involved in the study undertook comparative research into homework practices in primary schools in the UK and Shanghai.
The participation of pre-service teachers in education research has been constructed in a number of ways in the research literature. We have drawn on the work of Toom et al, (2010), who see participation in research during teacher development as a learning activity of profound significance and suggest that teacher education is an activity where learners use research as the basis of learning. Maaranen and Krokfors (2007) have theorized a research-based approach to teacher education that emphasises enquiry into pedagogy in order to develop ‘pedagogical thinking’. Based on the ideas of Dewey (1933) and Schön (1983), we recognize that that pragmatic thinking, theoretical thinking and practice exist in a reciprocal relationship and are all aspects of “pedagogical thinking”. Maaranen and Krokfors (2007) recognize this intra-personal, individual process but also add an inter-personal dimension. This is why the project includes both individual and shared reflections. On this theoretical basis we have previously explored how pre-service teachers can participate in research as part of their teacher education (Medwell and Wray, 2014) but the present study sought to offer trainee teachers the opportunity to inquire into issues of curriculum, rather than the, more usual, inquiry into their own teaching activities, and to research internationally.
The policy context of this research has been a “turn to the practical” (Furlong, 2013) in teacher education, whereby pre-service teacher education has been transferred into schools as part of school-led teacher training (DFE, 1992, 1993) in marked contrast to the direction taken by other European countries. At the same time, despite the international phenomenon of demand for research-based practice in education, pre-service teachers in England face significant challenges to participation in research or learning to do research (BERA-RSA, 2014). The transfer of power (and money) for educational research to around 700 teaching schools, in the UK and the conceptualization of research as a school improvement mechanism, has meant that teacher participation in research, or support for participation is patchy (Bell, et al, 2010) and participation in research remains the least of the six priorities of the teaching schools or Teaching School Alliances (TSAs) gifted with the power to lead education research in England (Gu et al (2014).
This study aimed to give the pre-service teachers an opportunity to propose, develop and undertake an international research activity in order to develop their understandings about research and reflective skills. The study used content analysis of transcripts of research planning and review meetings and of individual written reflective reports by each participant to explore the reflective learning of the pre-service teachers.
Bell, M., P. Cordingley, C. Isham and R. Davis. (2010). Report of professional practitioner use of research review: Practitioner engagement in and/or with research. Coventry: CUREE, GTCE, LSIS and NTRP. www.curee-paccts.com/node/2303 Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath. DFE (Department for Education). (1993). The Initial Training of Primary School Teachers: new criteria for course approval, Circular16/93. London: DFE. Furlong, J. (2013). Education—An anatomy of the discipline. London: Routledge. Gu, Q., S. Rea, L. Smethem, J. Dunford, M. Varley and P. Sammons. (2014). The Teaching Schools Evaluation: Emerging Issues from the Early Development of Case Study Teaching Schools Alliances. Nottingham: National College for Teaching and Leadership. www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-teaching-schools-evaluation- brief Maaranen, K., and L. Krokfors. (2007). “Time to think? Primary school teacher students reflecting on their MA thesis research processes.” Reflective Practice 8 (3), 359–373. Medwell, J. and D. Wray. (2014). “Pre-service teachers undertaking classroom research: developing reflection and enquiry skills.” Journal of Education for Teaching 40 (1): 65-77 QSR International. (2010). Nvivo 9. http://www.qsrinternational.com/products_previous-products_nvivo9.aspx Rogers, R. (2001). “Reflection in higher education: A concept analysis.” Innovative Higher Education, 26, 37–57. Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. London: Random House. Stake, R. E. (2000). “Case studies.” In Handbook of qualitative research, edited by N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 435-454. London: Sage. Toom, A., H. Kynäslahti, L. Krokfors, R. Jyrhämä, R. Byman, K. Stenberg, K. Maaranen, and P. Kansanen. (2010). “Experiences of a Research-based Approach to Teacher Education: suggestions for future policies.” European Journal of Education 45 (2), 331-344.
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