10 SES 05 C, Reflectivity in Teacher Education
Pre-service teachers draw on a range of resources when experiencing and dealing with critical teaching incidents. These resources come from different domains, one of them being their past schooling experiences, i.e. their apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975). Pre-service teachers’ memory of past schooling experiences provides heuristics, expectations and associations readily available for the pre-service teacher to draw from (Feldon, 2007). For example, when reflecting on ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ thoughts following critical incidents, McGarr and McCormack (2016) found that pre-service teachers frequently changed (or counterfactually mutated) their actions on the basis of traditional understandings of teaching drawn from their past schooling experiences. Another domain from which resources are drawn is the local institutional context of the placement school that the pre-service teacher teaches in. Accountability structures, traditions and social and physical arrangements guide how pre-service and newly qualified teachers can and are expected to respond to critical incidents. A desire to ‘fit in’ can heighten the importance of expectations to comply with prevailing norms and values. A third domain is the teacher education programme which, hopefully, provides pre-service teachers with resources for dealing with critical teaching incidents along with expectations about how to respond. These three domains and their contribution to pre-service teachers’ responses to critical incidents can be studied by focusing on a detailed analysis of the resources they employ. To do this, the research reported in this paper analysed pre-service teachers’ recounting of critical incidents experienced during their practicum. It examined what they thought, in hindsight, they should have changed about the situation. It studied how the pre-service teachers selected and counterfactually mutated critical incidents and the resources they drew on in these counterfactually mutated versions of challenging teaching experiences. The study focused on the following two research questions:
- In pre-service teachers’ counterfactually mutated versions of critical incidents, what resources are employed in the hypothetical ‘if only’ responses and how do these compare with their original actions/inactions?
- Which domains did the pre-service teachers’ resources come from, which domains dominated responses and how did the resources and demands from different domains interact?
Pre-service teachers’ resources and the domains of these resources were, in this study, conceptualised by drawing on cultural historical theory, which emphasises that individual human action is guided and achieved by means of artefacts (e.g. Daniels, 2008). Such artefacts include not only physical objects, but also words and verbal expressions, sounds, visual and gestural representations (Wartofsky, 1979). Although artefacts are drawn on and used in individual action, they are produced and learned within social interaction. Artefacts originates from social and institutional domains that go beyond the individual and the artefacts are fitted for and reminds the user of the actions and activities that the artefacts are known to be used for. Hence, artefacts are not neutral. They guide the actions of those who use them and, in being fitted for particular use, they help the individual to achieve certain ends. This study is guided by the idea that the availability of artefacts has a central role in contributing to which goals and objectives individuals can and will pursue. The study also drew on the psychological theory of counterfactual thought mutation, a theory exploring the ‘what if’ or ‘if only' thoughts experienced by people after an event. Research in this area indicates that counterfactual thoughts are influenced by both inter- and intra-personal beliefs.
Daniels, H. (2008). Vygotsky and research. London: Routledge. Feldon, D. F. (2007). Cognitive Load and Classroom Teaching: The Double-Edged Sword of Automaticity. Educational Psychologist, 42(3), 123–137. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520701416173 Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: a sociological study. Chicago ; London: University of Chicago Press. McGarr, O., & McCormack, O. (2016). Counterfactual mutation of critical classroom incidents: implications for reflective practice in initial teacher education. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39(1), 36–52. Wartofsky, M. (1979). Perception, representation, and the forms of action: Towards an historical epistemology. In R. S. Cohen & M. Wartofsky (Eds.), Models: Representation and the scientific understanding (Vol. XLVIII, pp. 188–210). Dordrecht, Holland: Springer Science+Business Media.
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