10 SES 08 B, Programmes and Approaches: Measuring training practices
It is widely acknowledged in educational literature as well as among practitioners that the skill of explaining subject matter to students in an understandable way is one of the most essential skills a teacher should have. Yet, giving clear explanations is a complex task. Not only our personal experience but also empirical studies (e.g. Charalambous et al. 2011, Inoue 2009, Schopf/Zwischenbrugger 2015c) show that especially novice teachers struggle with that task.
Thus, this paper discusses (in the context of business teaching) whether and how this skill can be acquired in teacher education and focuses on the question “Can explaining be taught?”
The paper merges the findings of two researchers´ projects, which have had the common goal to investigate and describe the skill of explaining, but have followed different theoretical paradigms. The objective of this collaboration is to share the research findings and to contrast the differing perspectives from both researchers in order to encourage a fruitful discussion.
In Schopf & Zwischenbrugger´s project (2015a, 2015b) business didactics literature was analyzed and business didactics experts were interviewed in order to develop a heuristic of clear explaining as a tool for teacher training. This heuristic describes the elements and attributes of a comprehensible explanation in the context of business teaching.
Their research is based on a cognitivist view of teaching and learning. It is assumed that on the one hand experts are able to explicate at least part of their knowledge about explaining and on the other hand novices can learn from explicit rules. Certainly, students can only acquire declarative knowledge about explaining by studying explicit rules. In order to achieve skillful performance in the task of explaining, students have to practice and build procedural knowledge. According to action control theory (Ryle 1949, Lord/Levy 1994) knowledge is seen as causal factor for actions, in other words, skills are understood as knowledge application. Thus, teachers should be able to applicate what they know and to substantiate what they do (Neuweg 2011). Based on that goal a teacher education concept is advocated which integrates theory and practice and focuses on pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman 1986).
In contrast to that Nöbauer (2016) conducted in her project interviews with expert explainers with the goal to generate a deeper understanding and to describe their expertise as “art” of explaining.
She adopts a constructivist perspective, more precisely the tacit knowing view (Neuweg 2006), and argues that there is no direct causal relation between knowledge and skills and that there is an important difference between knowing how to do something and actually being able to do it skillfully. As explaining is a complex task that needs to be tailored to a concrete situation, general rules do not really help. Instead, experts dispose of implicit knowledge which allows them to act intuitively. This implicit knowledge cannot be fully explicated and transferred to learners. Thus, in order to acquire a skill, students need to work on authentic tasks to make their own experiences within a community of practice. This goes along with a teacher education concept which differentiates theory from practice, that is, scientific knowledge and thinking from practical skills and acting.
These contradictory approaches are at least partly reconciled in the Dreyfus Model (Dreyfus/Dreyfus 1986), which describes the process of skill acquisition in five stages. While novices need general rules as guidelines for their actions, experts have enough experience to act spontaneously according to the situation. Thus, explicit knowledge facilitates learning at the early stages of skill development but seems to become more and more irrelevant as experience is growing.
Charalambous, C.Y. / Hill, H.C. / Ball, D.L. (2011): Prospective teachers’ learning to provide instructional explanations: how does it look and what might it take? In: Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 14/6/441–463. Dreyfus, H.L. / Dreyfus, S.E. (1986): Mind over Machine. The Power of Human Intuition and Expertise in the Era of the Computer. New York: The Free Press. Inoue, N. (2009): Rehearsing to teach: content specific deconstruction of instructional explanations in pre-service teacher training. In: Journal of Education for Teaching, 35/1/47–60. Lord, R.G. / Levy, P.E. (1994): Moving from Cognition to Action: A Control Theory Perspective. In: Applied Psychology, 43/3/335-367. Mayring, P. (2015): Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Grundlagen und Techniken. Weinheim: Beltz. Neuweg, G.H. (2006): The Concept of Tacit Knowing. In: Educational Sciences (Odgojne znanosti), 11/1/79–94. Neuweg, G.H. (2011): Distanz und Einlassung. Skeptische Anmerkungen zum Ideal einer “Theorie-Praxis-Integration” in der Lehrerbildung. In: Erziehungswissenschaft, 22/43/33-45. Nöbauer, K. (2016): Die Kunst des Erklärens. Wirtschaftspädagogische Diplomarbeit an der JKU Linz. Ryle, G. (1949): The Concept of Mind. London: Hutchinson. Schopf, C. / Zwischenbrugger, A. (2015a): Handbuch Verständlich Erklären. Eine Heuristik mit Beispielen aus Betriebswirtschaft, Rechnungswesen, Volkswirtschaft und Wirtschaftsinformatik. Wien: Manz. Schopf, C. / Zwischenbrugger, A. (2015b): Verständliche Erklärungen im Wirtschaftsunterricht. Eine Heuristik basierend auf dem Verständnis der Fachdidaktiker/innen des Wiener Lehrstuhls für Wirtschaftspädagogik. In: ZföB, -/3/1-31. Schopf, C. / Zwischenbrugger, A. (2015c): Wie gut erklären Studienanfänger/innen und welche Rolle spielt dabei ihr Fachwissen? Eine quantitative Untersuchung im Masterstudium Wirtschaftspädagogik an der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien. In: Wissenplus Wissenschaft, 34/5/45–49. Shulman, L.S. (1986): Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching. In: Educational Researcher, 15/2/4-14.
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