01 SES 04 B, Research Engagement as Professional Development
Unlike many other countries in Europe Denmark does not have any kind of national arrangement concerning induction programs or any agreement on how to support newly qualified teachers (NQT). The induction occurs very arbitrarily and differently in each municipality (Hedegaard 2010).
In Center for Profession & Education, as part of the program ‘Guidance and Mentoring’, we have established a research project in collaboration with The National Union of Teachers concerning teacher induction programs in Denmark. The project is called: NQT’ Possibilities to get a Foothold in a Lifelong Career.
The aim of this research project is to develop a Danish version of a teacher induction program; a program that focuses on NQT´ competencies and career prospects. It is a study based on empirical research in a Danish context. Potentially the results can inspire colleagues in other European countries as well.
As part of the project, we would like to examine these research questions
- Which problems does NQT meet in their first years in practice, which they find difficult to manage?
- How can the method Research Circles support NQT in their professional development during the first three years of their professional life?
Research circles emerged in Swedish universities in the 1970s as a way of developing and exchanging knowledge among labour market researchers and trade union representatives. The aim with such a reciprocal relationship between researchers and practitioners, where no one form of knowledge was preferred or valued over another, was to bring about real societal change (Persson, 2009).
A research circle is a method that supports the achievement of a goal agreed upon in a specific collaborative process. Often, the objective of a research circle will involve producing more knowledge about a profession or a practice – insights that enrichen the work of both professionals and researchers for the benefit of a particular group or groups (Holmstrand & Härnsten, 2003; Thomsen, Buhl, & Skovhus, 2017).
The critical ideology of the research circle is closely linked to theories and methodologies that seek to promote the democratisation of education and research through the empowerment of participants, e.g. (Freire, 2000). Working with research circles is a way of widening opportunities and expanding professional roles through the democratisation of research.
Ideally, a research circle consists of 5-8 members and a circle leader. The circle leader (who is often a researcher her-/himself) is responsible for the research process but all members of the circle share the responsibility for the joint production of knowledge (Hecksher, Thomsen, & Nordentoft, 2014; Persson, 2009). In this project the leader of the research circle are a researcher from the program ‘Guidance and Mentoring’. The other members of the research circle are NQT. The NQT are employed at the same or different schools in the region. Thereby NQT become co-researchers in a research process centred on their own practice and their own professional development; and the researchers gain a broader understanding of the problems NQT meet, as well as they encounter new perspectives on how an induction programme can be conceived and organised. The design of the research- and development project: A group of NQT (5-8 NQT) are invited to participate in the project over a period of one year. A researcher from the research programme ‘guidance and mentoring’ are the leader of the research circles in order to support the professional development of the NQT. There will be five meetings in the research circles. Between the research circle meetings the NQT work together in groups of 2-3 persons on a selected issues they would like to examine and develop in relation to their professional development. At the fourth meeting, the NQT invite persons they would like to give insight into the work of the research circle, e.g. mentors, school leaders and colleagues. Our empirical data will be based on observations and interviews: • A researcher from the research programme ‘guidance and mentoring’ will do observations during the research circle meetings (that is, another person than the research circle leader). The focus will be on 1) the actions of the research circle leader 2) the collaboration between the participants of the research circles 3) what the NQT tells about the problems they meet in their practice which they find difficult to manage 4) If the NQT says something about their participation in the research circles this is noted by the observer. • At the end of the project the NQT are interviewed. The focus in the interviews are their experiences of participating in the research circles in relation to their professional development.
We expect to gain knowledge about: • How the participator method research circles can support the professional development of NQT • Which problems NQT meet in their practice which they find difficult to manage.
Buhl, R., & Skovhus, R. B. (2014). Hvad er forskningscirkler, og hvordan arbejder vi med dem? [Research circles: what are they, and how do we work with them?] (pp. 1–14). Aarhus: VIA University College. Retrieved from https://www.ucviden.dk/portal-via/files/27945415/Hvad_er_forskningscirkler_Og_hvordan_arbejder_vi_med_dem_Rita_Buhl_og_Randi_Skovhus_Februar_2014.pdf Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Hecksher, K., Thomsen, R., & Nordentoft, H. M. (2014). Forskningscirkler. En introduktion til metoden og gode råd [Research circles. An introduction to the method and some good advice]. Preventing Dropout. Holmstrand, L., & Härnsten, G. (2003). Förutsättningar för forskningscirklar i skolan. En kritisk granskning [Preconditions for research circles in the school. A critical investigation]. Stockholm: Myndigheten för skolutveckling. Persson, S. (2009). Research Circles. A Guide. Malmö: Centre for Diversity in Education. Retrieved from http://malmo.se/download/18.72a9d0fc1492d5b743f75935/1491299845515/research_circles_a_guide.pdf Thomsen, R., Buhl, R., & Skovhus, R. B. (2017). Forskningscirkelledelse i praksis [Management of research circles in practice]. Nordic Studies in Education, 37(1), 46–60.
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