ERG SES C 03, Teachers' Education
The purpose of this study was to examine the quality of practitioner research conducted by secondary education teachers. A Dutch program for teacher research provides the context of this study.
The European Commission states that in our current society continuous professional development of teachers is a necessity (http://ec.europa.eu/) as the work of teachers becomes more complex (OECD, 2005). Besides teaching, the teacher should also conduct research and improve the educational practice by applying the outcomes. In order to meet these new teaching standards, teachers need to acquire the knowledge and skills relevant for conducting research. Already in 2004, this became explicit in the Dublin descriptors compiled by the Joint Quality Initiative; an European initiative to formulate qualifications that signify completion of the higher education.
Teachers’ engagement in research is known as practitioner research. Practitioner research is the systematic and interactive inquiry by teachers into their own practice for the purpose of improving this practice (van der Donk & van Lanen, 2012). Literature on educational research puts forth practitioner research as an effective strategy for teachers to develop as professionals and thereby improving their teaching practice (e.g. Cochrane-Smith & Lytle, 1990; Dinkelman, 2003; Ponte, Ax, Beijaard, & Wubbels, 2004; Snoek & Moens, 2011; van der Linden, 2012; Vrijnsen-de Corte, 2012; Zeichner, 1993).
Despite the widely recognized value of practitioner research on teachers’ professional development, questions about the quality of practitioner research have been raised (e.g. Leeman & Wardekker, 2013). No general guidelines are available as there is no agreement on the objectives and the process of practitioner research. In addition, there are no criteria for evaluating practitioner research (Oolbekkink-Marchand, van der Steen & Nijveldt, 2014). As more and more teachers are being trained in practitioner research and the amount of practitioner research is growing, this lack of guidelines is becoming a problem.
In our study we focus on teachers in secondary education who conduct practitioner research, while receiving training and guidance by university researchers. The purpose of this study is to contribute to our knowledge about the quality of practitioner research and to develop guidelines for evaluating practitioners’ research. The research question central to this study is: How can we measure the quality of practitioner research conducted by secondary education teachers?
Oolbekkink-Marchand et al. (2014) made an effort to measure the quality of teacher research by using the validity types set out by Anderson and Herr (1999) and further clarified by Newton and Burgess (2008). The validity types encompass: outcome validity (the extent to which a solution is given for the problem), process validity (the extent to which a sound, scientific research method is used), democratic validity (the extent to which stakeholders’ perspectives are taken into account), catalytic validity (the extent to which a change in knowledge, attitude, skills and actions has occurred) and dialogic validity (the extent to which a critical dialogue with peers is carried out).
In order to know to whether professionalization programs in which teachers conduct practitioner research are effective, there is a need to evaluate. The European Commission reports on the difficulty in providing a complete picture of (effects of different activities on) the professional development of teachers (Fredriksson, 2006). This study contributes to the work of the European Commission by reporting on a long term and intensive professionalization program for teachers in which they engage in practitioner research. Furthermore, the study intends to find criteria for evaluating practitioners’ research that are not limited to the Dutch context.
Aarts, R., Mathijsen, I. (2014). Praktijkonderzoek in de school: kwaliteit en dilemma's. Script! Retrieved from: http://www.script-onderzoek.nl/ Anderson, G.L., Herr, K. (1999). The new paradigm war: Is there room for rigorous practitioner knowledge in schools and universities? Educational Researcher, 28(5), 12-40. doi: 10.3102/0013189X028005012 Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1990). Research on teaching and teacher research: The issues that divide. Educational Researcher, 19(2), 2-11. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176596 Dinkelman, T. (2003). Self-study in teacher education: a means and ends tool for promoting reflective teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 6-18. doi: 10.1177/0022487102238654 Fredriksson, U. (2006). European teacher education policy: recommendations and indicators. Paper presented at the Annual Atee Conference. Retrieved from http://www.pef.uni-lj.si/atee Leeman, Y., & Wardekker, W. (2010). Verbetert onderzoek het onderwijs? Tijdschrift voor Lerarenopleiders, 3(1), 19-22. Retrieved from: http://www.lerarenopleider.nl/ Newton, P., & Burgess, D. (2008). Exploring Types of Educational Action Research: Implications for Research Validity. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 7(4). 19-29. doi: 10.1177/160940690800700402 OECD. (2005). Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers. Retrieved from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development website: https://www.oecd.org Oolbekkink-Marchand, H.W., van der Steen, J., & Nijveldt, M. (2014). A study of the quality of practitioner research in secondary education: impact on teacher and school development. Educational Action Research, 22(1),122-139, doi: 10.1080/09650792.2013.854175 Ponte, P., Ax, J., Beijaard, D., & Wubbels, Th. (2004). Teachers’ development of professional knowledge through action research and the facilitation of this by teacher educators. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(6), 571-588. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2004.06.003 Snoek, M., & Moens, E. (2011). The impact of teacher research on teacher learning in academic training schools in the Netherlands. Professional Development in Education, 37(5), 817-826. doi: 10.1080/19415257.2011.587525. van der Donk, C., & van Lanen, B. (2012). Prakijkonderzoek in de school (2nd ed.). Bussum, The Netherlands: Coutinho. van der Linden, P.W.J. (2012). A design-based approach to introducing student teachers in conducting and using research (Doctoral dissertation). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.6100/IR741499 Vrijnsen-de Corte, M. (2012). Researching the teacher-researcher. Practice-based research in dutch professional development schools (Doctoral thesis). Retrieved from http://repository.tue.nl/735332 Zeichner, K. M. (1993). Action research: Personal renewal and social reconstruction. Educational Action Research, 1(2), 199-219. doi: 10.1080/0965079930010202
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