02 SES 11 C, Challenges in Teacher Education
Pre-service teacher programmes have undergone many modifications during the past years, in order to better support students in developing competencies for facing realities of workplace practice. Still, recent studies reveal that teachers in practice state little reference to theories they developed at university (Blömeke, Gustafsson and Shavelson, 2015). This is due to a huge disparity between university-acquired skills and those needed to cope with everyday tasks in schools (Meijer, de Graaf, & Meirink, 2011; Yayli, 2008; Cochran-Smith, 2005; Korthagen, 2010; Roness, 2011). Respectively, students complain about the insufficient accessibility of theoretical models to be used for their own teaching practice and the associated acquisition of "inert knowledge" (Renkl, 1996). Facing this uncertain transition from knowledge to action, teacher training in many European countries is subject to criticism, although its effects have not been empirically investigated on a larger scale yet (Townsend & Bates, 2007).
In this regard, the current study introduces a higher education approach of closing the gap between theory and practice by employing the advantages of authentic video-taped lessons to create practice-oriented learning opportunities (Gomez et al., 2008; Brophy, 2004; Petko, Haab, & Reusser, 2003).
The main focus is enhancing the reconstruction of theory for the students‘ own prospect teaching purposes, as well as their professional understanding of theory and practice as necessarily linked concepts along a continuum of “specifications” and “generalitites”, rather than understanding “theory” as a mere academic domain, inherently detached from “practice” perceived as school realities.
By employing authentic video-taped lessons as focal points of teacher training, students’ perception and understanding of classroom realities can be professionalized. Theorizing is then understood as exploring the underlying scripts and generalities (i. e., the “theories”) crucial to certain types of teaching situations as seen on screen and according assumptions about lesson planning. Video-taped lessons thus serve as situative anchors, fleshed-out examples and episodic memory aids in higher education.
As for teaching content, this approach builds on the assumption that a thorough understanding of teaching situations can be achieved by referring to a general model of the act of learning (Tramm, Casper 2018) and the constructive alignment of intended outcomes, activities and assessment (Biggs/Tang 2011). Thus, the introduced video-based intervention follows a structured curriculum (further explained below) aiming at fostering amongst students an understanding of teachers as a social “community of practice” (Wenger 2008) which heavily draws on shared knowledge, codified in both implicit and explicit theories about learning and teaching.
Based on the outlined theoretical framework, this study explores the following research questions: How can authentic video-taped lessons be used in higher education teacher training, in order to
- establish a professional understanding of theory-practice coherence and enrich discussions about didactic theories and models?
- develop professional analytic skills in observing and evaluating lessons as well as enhancing lesson planning skills drawing on elaborated construction criteria?
- assist the development of didactically justifiable mindsets about teaching?
- prepare student teachers for on-the-job experience?
The study presented follows a design-based research methodology (DBR Collective 2003, Reinmann 2005), including the development, interventional testing and evaluation of an innovative seminar for students in the Master of Education programme for vocational and business teachers at University of Hamburg. Intervention: The innovative seminar concept was firstly implemented in winter semester 2017/18 to prepare teacher students in vocational training (business studies) for their upcoming school placement, which is obligatory for all student teachers at University of Hamburg. 60 master students took part in 3 parallel seminars with 13 sessions (2 ½ hours each). Aiming for the goals stated above, two authentic video-taped commerce lessons from a local vocational school in Hamburg were provided online, accompanied with the respective lesson materials such as worksheets and student products. Furthermore, all seminar materials including literature, observation tasks, analytic frameworks, reflective questions on students` individual learning and reading-writing tasks were provided and organised by using an online learning platform. The seminar syllabus was as follows: • Introduction • Lesson phases and the perspective of acts of learning • Choreographies of teaching and learning methods • Developmental theories 1: challenges of thinking and cognitive conflicts • Developmental theories 2: challenges of reflection and moral dilemmas • Normatives of education 1: learning for understanding vs. learning for reproduction • Normatives of education 2: creating tasks and contexts for understanding • Didactic analysis and transformation of matters of education • Inclusion, individualization and adaptive learning and teaching • Professional lesson planning For every session, study tasks were developed with strong reference to the video-taped lessons. The focus was the elaboration and professionalization of students` subjective theories (schemata) of learning and teaching, the enhancement of observation skills in teaching situations (reflection-on-action; reflection-in-action) and the promotion of lesson planning skills with a final group product of refined lesson plans for the learning matters presented in the videos. Evaluation: Formative evaluation was carried out and documented in team meetings for session development and reflection. A summative evaluation is carried out by employing the faculty’s standardized evaluation process, a document based comparison of the current intervention and previous seminar concepts as well as an in-depth assessment of analytical and reflective skills shown in student term papers.
Expected outcomes are approached as follows: • Establishment of a professional understanding of theory-practice coherence and enriched discussions about didactic theories and models: indexed by team documentation and respective items of standardized student survey, in comparison to previous surveys; • Development of professional analytic skills in observing and evaluating lessons as well as enhanced lesson planning skills drawing on elaborated construction criteria: indexed by analytical part of term papers; • Development of didactically justifiable mindsets about teaching: indexed by reflective part of term paper; • Preparation of student teachers for on-the-job experience: not part of this study, but possibly indexed by outcomes of the follow-up seminars accompanying school placement episodes.
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