10 SES 16 E, Policy Making and School Reform
We are conducting the large-scale study, Literacy Teacher Educators: Their Backgrounds, Visions, and Practices, with 28 literacy teacher educators (LTEs) from U.S., Canada, England, and Australia. This proposal reports on one aspect of the research:
- How is the increasing role of the government in teacher education affecting LTEs?
As reform efforts in education continue at a rapid and seemingly unrelenting rate, teachers and teacher educators must navigate the choppy waters of education by reconciling a plethora of initiatives which at times are contradictory. For example, in Australia “[t]here have been 101 government inquiries of one sort or another into Australian teacher education since 1979” (Louden 2008, p. 357). Beside the sheer number of reports and initiatives, the rhetoric around education is polarizing especially for those interested in literacy: on the one hand there is former British Secretary of Education, Michael Gove, advocating that literacy instruction is “about the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage” (Furlong, 2013, p. 40) while UNESCO is promoting literacy for all with awareness and sensitivity to cultural needs (2006). Wading through this vitriolic and contradictory mine-field is difficult for teacher educators because many recent government initiatives narrow the curriculum to skills and drills.
As Furlong (2013) notes the stakes in education have been raised because it is seen to be one of the saviours for society and the economy. This stance has led to interference from governments at an untold level. For example, in England the government determines the number of days student teachers must spend in practice teaching schools (Murray & Passy, 2014, p. 497). Following suit, the U.S. governments (federal and state) are increasingly inserting themselves into teacher education. For example, requiring specific exit portfolios (edTPA). White et al. (2010) describe the Australian scene as an audit culture. “Outcomes … are not only prescribed, but are also monitored and assessed through regulatory frameworks” (p. 185).
Much of our methodology is qualitative as defined by Merriam (2009) and Punch (2014). We believe qualitative inquiry is appropriate since it provides depth of understanding and enables exploration of questions that do not on the whole lend themselves to quantitative inquiry (Guyton & McIntyre, 1990; Merriam, 2009). It opens the way to gaining entirely unexpected ideas and information from participants in addition to finding out their opinions on pre-set questions. We are using a modified ground theory approach which as Punch (2014) explains, is not a theory, but a strategy used to generate theory that will be grounded in the data (p. 130). The theory is developed inductively from the data using a set of techniques and procedures for collection and analysis (Punch, 2009). Throughout the analysis, we identified key themes that captured our work. As Strauss (2003), puts it “The basic question facing us is how to capture the complexity of the reality (phenomena) we study, and how to make convincing sense of it” (p. 16). Three interviews were conducted either face to face or via Skype: the first focused on their background, research activities, and previous experiences; the second on pedagogy; and the third on digital technology and how they have changed. For data analysis we used NVivo9, going through a number of steps: (1) Our initial coding of the transcripts was fairly broad, leading to 100+nodes/themes. Some arose straightforwardly as answers to our interview questions (e.g., goals for courses) while others emerged unexpectedly (e.g., changes to identity). (2) After two rounds of coding we extracted 40+ nodes/themes related to the political context. These were then sub-divided into sub-nodes (e.g., external credentialing bodies; preparing student teachers for district initiatives). (3) As we analyzed the nodes, annotations, and memos we developed summary findings for two areas in particular: impact on practice and impact on identity.
With the increased government requirements LTEs felt the impact both directly and in less obvious ways. Those in England where the government mandated the number of days spent in practice teaching found that the practice teaching component started to overshadow the academic program. The government’s belief that teaching is a craft learned through apprenticeship in schools downplays the importance of the academic program while the LTEs still conceptualized teaching as an intellectual and reflective endeavour with a role for higher education. Some of our LTEs working in the U.S. found the new education teacher performance assessment (edTPA exit portfolio) was causing stress for student teachers which in turn was having an effect on their courses. Many revised their courses to ensure student teachers were prepared for it. Recognizing that they must prepare student teachers to work in schools as they are currently run LTEs needed to rethink some of their goals. Hailey felt the tension because her course goals were based on an understanding of literacy teaching (e.g., children’s literature) no longer prevalent in many schools. Similarly, Rachel an advocate of the arts despaired because it was vanishing from the Australian government curriculum. Each LTE has to reconcile many differences. Increased vigilance To ensure compliance, many governments created external agencies to monitor teacher education programs. For example in England the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) is so powerful it has “ensured that little would escape” its purview. Many participants described the stress of external reviews. Justin found the process demeaning, “it felt like the whole process was run by bureaucrats.” Juliana noted that the OFSTED visit divided the faculty: some wanted to comply while others felt it should be boycotted. While Stella a Director of a teacher education program described the high stakes because “if our course [program] didn't fit the bill that would be curtains [for the program].”
Furlong, J. (2013). Globalisation, Neoliberalism, and the reform of teacher education in England. The Educational Forum 77(1), 28-50. Guyton, E., & McIntyre, J. (1990). Student teaching and school experiences. In W. R. Houston (Ed.), Handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 514-534). New York: Macmillan. Louden, L. (2008). 101 Damnations: The persistence of criticism and the absence of evidence about teacher education in Australia. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 14(4), 357–368. MacBeath, J. (2012). Teacher training, education of learning by doing in the UK. In L. Darling-Hammond & A. Lieberman (Eds.) Teacher education around the world: Changing policies and practices. (pp. 66-80) New York: Routledge. Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. McNamara, O. & Murray, J. (2013). The School Direct programme and its implications for research-informed teacher education and teacher educators. In L. Florian & N. Pantic (Eds.) Learning to teach: Exploring the history and role of higher education in tTacher education. (pp. 10-17). Murray, J. & Passy, R. (2014). Primary teacher education in England: 40 years on. Journal of Education for Teaching 40(5), 492-506. Punch, K. (2014). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. London: Sage. Strauss, A. (2003). Qualitative analysis for social scientists (14th Ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. UNESCO (2006). Literacy for Life: Education for All. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2006-literacy/ White, S., Bloomfield, D., & Le Cornu, R., (2010). Professional experience in new times: Issues and responses to a changing education landscape. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education 38(3), 181–193.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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