02 SES 05 A, Approaches to Instruction and Learning of VET teachers
Education is changing - in the need for research-based responses to the grand challenges facing society; and in the employability of those working in further and higher education. It is becoming increasingly clear that participants in FE teacher education qualification (TEQ) programmes must develop new and different skills and perspectives; and programmes worldwide are responding with new and innovative models of teacher education and training. Key features of these changes include quality teaching and research training, inter-disciplinarity, partnerships with industry, and a mentality of innovation. Yet, evidence that these ‘new’ responses are effective is limited and we need additional research to understand the experience and impact of these models.
This paper aims to address this gap by sharing the findings of a cross-border explorative study on FE practitioners’ experience of professional learning and development as a result of completing a TEQ professional development programme. The paper sheds light on (a) the nature of learning and perspective transformation, (b) programme impact on participants’ professional and pedagogical development, and (c) the nature of ‘evolving ideal identity states’ for individuals and higher education providers of TEQ programmes.
Key research questions that guide this study include:
- What is ‘professional learning and development’ for FE teachers? What is the starting point for attaining further ‘qualification’?
- What is their experience of FE faculty development programmes?
- In what ways do teachers’ perspectives shift during and after their professional development programme?
- What facilitates and inhibits FE teachers’ journey in their professional development?
Literature was drawn from three focal areas and points to an emerging conceptual framework of personal, professional and situational teacher identity.
Transformative Learning is predominantly a cognitive/rational approach to adult learning that emphasises the critical role experience and reflection play on existing assumptions about the world in order to arrive at a new worldview (Mezirow 1991, 2012, Cranton, 2006, Graham Cagney, 2011). Mezirow theorises about how adults interpret their life experience and defines learning as a meaning making activity. Described as a shift in consciousness that alters in both a dramatic and permanent way our ‘being in the world’; it changes how we know. It leads to a different kind of thinking and being that enables individuals to become more open to revisiting their interpretations of the meaning of their experience: in turn guiding future action (Cranton, 2006; Tennant, 2012).
‘Inner’ Teaching-Learning Environment (TLE). Constructivist research funded by the UK government into enhancing teaching-learning environments (TLEs) suggests that students perceptions of the TLE are strongly determined by ‘a set of overlapping contexts that comprise of four elements: course contexts; teaching and assessing content; staff-student relationships; and aspects of the students and student culture within a particular programme (Entwistle, 2003; Entwistle & McCune, 2009). The ‘inner’ TLE map acts as an organising framework when considering how to encourage students to engage more deeply with the subject matter and achieve a high quality of learning through the creation of transformative learning spaces (Graham Cagney, 2011).
Identity self-states: Markus and Nurius (1985) pinpoint a ‘motivational self systems’ framework that incorporates a ‘possible’ and ‘ideal’ selves theory and self-discrepancy theory. Three seminal reviews of the literature on teacher identity in the last decade (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009; Beijard et al., 2004; Rodgers & Scott, 2008) highlight the importance of and interrelation of notions of identity, context, emotion and agency. Beijard et al (2004) and Hamman, Gosselin, Romano and Bunuan (2010) identify a strong preoccupation with investigating characteristics or content, namely what roles and values, constitute teacher identity and less attention on the situational and contextual factors within the broader framework of teacher professional development.
Beauchamp, C., & Thomas, L. (2009). Understanding teacher identity: an overview of issues in the literature and implications for teacher education. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(2), 175-189. Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C., & Verloop, N. (2004). Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 107-128. Conway, P. F., & Clark, C. M. (2003). The journey inward and outward: a re- examination of Fuller’s concerns-based model of teacher development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 465- 482. Cranton, P. (2006) Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning. 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. deMarrais, K. & Lapan, S. (2004). (Eds.), Foundations for research: Methods of inquiry in education and the social sciences. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Entwistle, N. (2003). Concepts and conceptual frameworks underpinning the ETL project. OCC. Report 3, Higher and Community Education, University of Edinburgh: School of Education. Glesne, C. (2006). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction (3rd Ed). New York: Longman. Glaser, B.G., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine. Graham Cagney, A. (2011) ‘Finding the Red Thread’: The Role of the Learning Space in Transformative Learning in Executive Education. PhD Thesis, Trinity College, Dublin. Hamman, D. & Gosselin, K., Romano, J. And Banuan, R. (2010) Using possible-selves theory to understand the identity development of new teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 1349-1361. Husband G (2015) The impact of lecturers’ initial teacher training on continuing professional development needs for teaching and learning in post-compulsory education, Research in Post Compulsory Education, 20 (2), pp. 227-244. Mezirow, J. (1991) Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning, SanFrancisco: Jossey- Bass. Mezirow, J. (2012) Learning to Think Like an Adult: Core Concepts of Transformation Theory, in The Handbook of Transformative Learning: Theory, Research, and Practice, (2012) Taylor, E.W., Cranton, P and Associates (Eds) SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass. Markus, H. & Nurius, P., (1986), Possible selves. American Psychologist, Vol.41(9) pgs 954- 969. Rodgers, C.R. & Scott, K.H. (2008). The development of the personal self and professional identity in learning to teach, Handbook of Research on Teacher Education, 732-755 Roulston, K. (2010). Reflective interviewing: A guide to theory and practice. Los Angeles: SAGE. Stokols, D. (2006). Towards a science of transdisciplinary action research. American Journal of Community Psychology, 38, 63-77. Tennant, M. (2012). The Learning Self: Understanding the potential for transformation, SanFrancisco: JosseyBass.
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