10 SES 13 C, Teacher Motivations, Preparation and Pedagogical Knowledge
This paper arose from a study that examined how Physical Education (PE) Teacher Education graduates in Scotland view their levels of preparedness as probationary teachers and early phase practitioners.
The European Commission (2012) offered that the quality of teaching and learning is of key importance in determining student performance. There has also been a ‘broad-spread disquiet’ about the ability of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes to provide appropriately qualified PE teachers (UNESCO, 2014:11). However, in this current education climate teachers face unprecedented challenges. In Scotland the prominence given to Health and Wellbeing has resulted in increased responsibility for Physical Education graduates (Gray, 2015). Alongside this there is a need for Physical Education to undertake a profound transformation (Fletcher and Casey, 2014). Given the importance that is placed on teacher quality; the evolving curriculum in Scotland and the need for reform in Physical Education: it is imperative that the next generation of physical education teachers are prepared to teach within this context.
Preparation is a concept that is frequently used in education, throughout ITE preparation is emphasised as being one of the key constructs of an effective teacher leading to confidence or ‘teacher efficacy’ in their ability to promote students learning (Hoy, 2000). Bandura (1986, 1997) offered that there were four sources of information used to construct a persons self-efficacy and in the case of teaching there are strong links between preparedness and teacher efficacy with particular reference to their experiences (Protheroe, 2008). In further work Hoy (2000) suggests that some of the most important factors that contribute to the development of teacher efficacy are mastery experiences during ITE and into their induction year. Given the importance placed on teacher efficacy and the evident links to teacher preparedness it is essential to investigate the levels of preparedness in probationary teachers and early phase teachers.
Within Scotland, preparedness in our graduates is measured by achieving the standards for registration across three broad areas:
- values and personal commitment
- knowledge and understanding
- skills and abilities
Within each of these there are expected features that must be demonstrated in order to enter the profession (General Teaching Council for Scotland, 2012).
In wider reading on teacher preparation internationally concepts that align with the Standards in Scotland can be found:
- Demonstrating competence in the practical setting
- Curricular Knowledge ‘the what’
- Teaching Skills ‘the how’
(Noell Parks & Wagner, 2015; Mueller & File, 2015;Barrio et al, 2015)
Despite this apparent consistency what teachers need to know and be able to do is under significant debate (Ryan and Graue, 2015) it is the hope that in investigating perceived levels of preparedness this study can provide an insight into what teachers need to know and be able to do in order to perceive themselves to be prepared to enter the profession.
1) How do practitioners view their levels of preparedness as a) a probationary teacher and b) an early phase practitioner?
2) What are the factors that contribute to perceived levels of preparedness within physical education graduates of ITE?
The Research Council for Norway (2012) highlighted a need for mixing quantitative and qualitative data to answer any set of research questions relevant for today’s society. This alongside the focus of the research resulted in a mixture of methods being utilised in this study. Quantitative and qualitative data was gathered via questionnaires. With focus groups and semi-structured interviews being used to collect qualitative data. The questionnaire consisted of open and closed questions, which asked participants to share their views on their levels of preparedness in relation to their ITE course. The questions were framed using knowledge of teacher preparedness but were intentionally kept neutral to reduce the chance of influencing participants answers (Menter et. al, 2011). The focus groups were used to explore the themes emerging from the questionnaires as the open environment of a focus group has particular value in providing a greater understanding of participants’ views of the themes (Johnson & Christensen, 2008). The interviews allowed participants to reflect back on their experiences during their first year of teaching and consider whether they were as prepared as they had thought. The study spanned three graduating classes of Secondary Physical Education teachers from the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education. Across the study thirty participants completed the questionnaire, twenty-five of those participants then contributed across 5 focus groups. Finally, eight participants undertook reflective interviews, though at the time of writing the interview data collection remains on going. The age range of the participants was 22-33 years old. The analysis of the questionnaire data was divided between the closed and open questions. For the closed question answers descriptive statistics were computed to report on several elements of the questionnaire so that they describe and present the data (Cohen et al, 2007). In the quest of common themes the qualitative data produced by the open-ended questions was analysed using ‘affective methods’ coding (Saldana, 2013). Within this study the ability to capture the experiential world of the research participants is of key importance and the selection of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) for the analysis of focus group and interview data was key. This inductive method of analysis allows the researcher to focus on interpretation of meanings (Smith et al, 2009). Within IPA the researcher reflects on their own preconceptions and attempts to suspend them in order to focus on making sense of the research participants’ meanings (Smith et al, 2009).
Within the questionnaire all participants either agreed or strongly agreed that they were prepared to undertake their probationary year. Variation was observed in levels of preparedness to meet responsibility for HWB. From the focus group and interview analysis participants offered that: - meeting the standards for graduation does not necessarily equate to graduates feeling prepared - ITE courses are one of multiple factors that contribute to perceived preparedness within graduates; other significant factors appear to be time spent in school and tutor support - perceived preparation is context specific and is changed by participant experiences. Overall within the study in alignment with the four categories presented by Menter et al (2010) there are clear indications of effective and reflective teaching within the views of the participants. However, the study also contends that teachers do not neatly fit into a category and that their feelings of preparedness are more messy that that. Initial analysis presented four kinds of teachers graduating into the profession: - The Naïve Graduate - ‘PE and HWB, it’s just what we do’ - The Hesitant Graduate – ‘I’m ready but I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully prepared’ - The Reluctant Graduate – ‘I’ve met the standards but I’m not prepared’ - The ‘Real Teacher’ Graduate – ‘I’m not fully prepared but I’m ready to move on’. Given this range and the significance attached to time spent in school and tutor support further research is required to explore the impact on practice within Physical Education Teacher Education. The findings of the study indicate that ITE courses have a perceived impact on the level of preparedness within graduates. This research study also contends that the role and position of Initial Teacher Education Institutes, in developing levels of preparedness, is not sufficiently examined within the wider research field.
Fletcher, T. and Casey, A., 2014. The challenges of models-based practice in physical education teacher education: A collaborative self-study. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 33(3), pp.403-421. General Teaching Council Scotland – GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration [Online] Available: GTCS [Accessed 1st May 2014] Gray, S. and Mitchell, F. (2015) Understanding student experience within a Scottish physical education (Health and Wellbeing) curriculum: a self-determination theory perspective. Proceedings from the 2015 AISEP International Conference, Madrid 8th-11th July 2015 (p. 68). Menter, I., Hulme, M., Elliot, D. & Lewin, J.(2010) Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century [Online] Available: Scottish Government. [Accessed 2nd May 2014]. Menter, I., Hulme, M., Elliot, D., Lewin, J. & Lowden, K. (2011) A guide to practitioner research. London: Sage Publications Mueller, J.J & File, N.K (2015) Teacher Preparation in Changing Times: One program’s journey toward Re-vision and Revision. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 36:2, 175-192. Noelle Parks, A & Wager A.A (2015) What Knowledge is shaping teacher preparation in early childhood mathematics. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education 36:2. 121-141 Protheroe, N., 2008. Teacher efficacy: What is it and does it matter? Principal, 87 (5), 42–45. The Research Council for Norway (2012) Mixed Methods in Education Research [Online] Available: RCfN [Accessed: Jan 12th 2018] Ryan, S & Graue, B. (2015) Early Childhood Teacher Education in a time of change. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education 36:2 87-89 Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis; Theory, Method and Research London: Sage Publications UNESCO (2014) World Wide Survey of Physical Education [Online] Available: UNESCO [Accessed: 12th Jan 2018]
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