10 SES 14 B, Self-Study Methodology: An inspiring and ambitious approach for practitioner research in Europe
Although the idea that educational professionals should study their own practices and use the findings to improve their practices goes back as far as the beginning of the last century (Dewey, 1929/1984), recently the interest in practitioner research has grown substantially, including in teacher education. The growing conviction that teachers should be able to improve their practices through systematic research, provides an imperative that teacher education institutions and teacher educators should rethink the teacher education curricula in a way that could prepare teachers for this. Increasing interest in practitioner research has led to the development of a whole range of approaches, for example action research, reflective inquiry, inquiry as a stance, teacher research, and self-study research (Lunenberg, Ponte, & Van der Ven, 2007).
Self-study research has emerged strongly over the past 25 years (Loughran et al, 2004). The special interest group on self-study research (S-STEP) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) is one of the largest, and numerous publications on self-study research are available, including in the self-study journal ‘Studying Teacher Education’. In Europe, however, self-study research is still limited. This symposium aims to broaden the interest of teacher educators and other education professionals in self-study research in Europe by offering inspiring examples of self-study studies from four European countries: Iceland, England, Scotland, and the Netherlands.
A central characteristic of self-study research is its focus on the “I”. A deep personal need to study one’s own practice and one’s own role in it is seen as the starting point for self-study research, but translating this practice-based question into a research format is not necessarily a straightforward process. Loughran (2010, p. 225) identified this important step in self-study research as “going beyond the story”, that is sharing experiences of what happened to identifying deeper issues, beliefs, motivations, and concerns related to a particular problem or question of practice. Theory can help us to do so. This brings us to a second characteristic. As Phelps (1991, p. 183) argued: ‘Theory galvanizes and disrupts the system, changing its very questions, undermining long-held beliefs, introducing ambiguities, revealing complexities, setting new tasks, forcing risks’. In line with this statement Loughran argued that self-study research is about seeking alternative perspectives: looking at one’s own practice from different, including theoretical, points of view.
The ambition of ‘double-dipping’ (Jaruszewicz, & Landrus, 2005) represents the aim of self-study to not only enhance the quality of practice, but to also contribute to the knowledge base of teacher education. This ambition emphasizes the importance of theoretical embedding of self-study research, but also asks for a transparent and systematic research process. Methodological rigor of self-study research (a third characteristic) has attracted much attention in the self-study community (LaBoskey, 2004; Samaras, 2011). Triangulation, member checks, transparency, and the involvement of critical friends have been discussed extensively. In the end, as for every research study, the final proof of the trustworthiness of a self-study is to present the study to the academic community and to open it up to a public debate.
Structure of the symposium
This symposium consists of four self-study presentations:
- Developing research-rich teaching practices as an experienced teacher educator
- Teacher educators developing a discourse on self-study of practice
- Who am I? Renegotiation of roles and relationships through self-study methodology
- Facilitating self-study research: a story of four tour guides
In each presentation the ‘I’, the theoretical embedding, and the methodological rigor are central points of attention. The discussant will start the conversation about the contribution of (these) self- studies to the practices of teacher educators to a knowledge base of teacher educators.
Dewey, J. (1929/1984). The Sources of a Science of Education, in J.A. Boydston (Ed.) The Later Works: vol. 5, 1929-1930, pp. 3-40. Carbondale: Southern Illinios University Press. Jaruszewicz, C. & Landrus, S. (2005). Help! I've lost my research agenda: Issues facing early childhood teacher educators. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 25(2), 103-112. LaBoskey, V. K. (2004). The methodology of self-study and its theoretical underpinnings. In J. J. Loughran, M. L. Hamilton, V. K. LaBoskey, & T. Russell (Eds.), International Handbook of Self-study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices (Vol. 1, pp. 817–869). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Loughran, J. J., Hamilton, M. L., La Boskey, V. & Russell, T. (2004). International Handbook of Self-study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1000 p. Loughran, J. (2010). Seeking Knowledge for Teaching Teaching: Moving beyond stories. Studying Teacher Education, 6 (3), 221–226. Lunenberg, M.L., Ponte, P. & Ven, P-H. (2007). Why Shouldn't Teachers and Teacher Educators Conduct Research on their Own Practices? European Educational Research Journal, 6(1), 13-24. Phelps, L. (1991) Practical Wisdom and the Geography of Knowledge in Composition, College English, 53(8), pp. 863-886. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/377691 Samaras, A. P. (2011). Self-study teacher research: Improving your practice through collaborative inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
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