27 SES 03 B, Epistemologies of the Teaching Practices
To prepare for teaching in a changing world is one of the main goals of contemporary didactics, with a growing body of research emphasizing the need to educate teachers for diversity and for inclusion (Hillen, Sturm & Willbergh, 2011; Huber, 2012; Werler & Cameron, 2012). International guidelines provide different frameworks to meet such challenges (UNESCO, 2005; OECD, 2010), encompassing literacy as a lifelong need and requirement. The European Declaration of the Right to Literacy (Valtin et al., 2016) states, as one of the conditions to fulfil that aim, that all teachers receive initial teacher education and professional development in literacy teaching and learning to be prepared for such demanding tasks. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UNITED NATIONS, 2015) highlights the importance of teacher training on inclusive education as a defining feature of SDG4-Education, embedded in a holistic and humanistic vision.
Despite international guidelines, primary teachers are mostly trained to national standards (UNESCO, 2015). For inclusion to be considered as a process that involves a constant search to respond to diversity (Ainscow, 2005) and its meaning associated not only with children with special needs but foremost involving everybody (McMaster, 2012), it remains relevant to reflect upon pre-service teachers professional training and learning (Figueiredo, 2005), encompassing their conceptions on inclusion. The importance of the role played by pre-service teachers’ conceptions in educational practices has been increasingly acknowledged (Garnier & Rouquette, 2000; Oliveira, 2014) and their beliefs about inclusion increasingly seen as relevant for their practices (Specht, 2016; Freeman, 2016).
Thus, the research questions that guided our study were the following: i) how lesson plans and written reflections made by pre-service teachers during their supervised teacher practice might shed some light on their conceptions of inclusion? ii) how do such conceptions might contribute to rethink their training, to encompass the everchanging nature of diversity and inclusion? We set the following aims: i) to characterise pre-service teachers’ conceptions of inclusion; ii) to infer how their instructional choices, emerging from their lesson planning, echo such conceptions of inclusion, providing some tools for thinking about the reshaping of their training; iii) to investigate the ways in which their written reflections mirror their lesson plans and how they both might gave education policy makers new insights concerning didactic strategies to promote inclusion in educational contexts.
We opted for a qualitative research approach, within a multiple case study framework. Such an approach places the emphasis on the importance of promoting an in-depth understanding of the object of study under investigation (Creswell, 2014), considering that nothing is trivial and might provide new and significant insights (Bogdan & Biklen, 1994). The multiple case study design was chosen to gain a holistic view of pre-service teachers’ conceptions on inclusion and to understand their similarities and differences. Participants were four pre-service teachers involved in supervised teaching practice, in two primary schools (second and third grades) in a city at the centre of Portugal. Instruments used to gather data were: i) their lesson plans, for a period of twelve weeks; the written reflections they made at the end of their training. Content analysis was performed following Bardin’s approach (2004) and involved a process of coding statements from their written reflections and lessons plans. Such process had an iterative nature to refine themes that emerged. Inclusion was mainly associated with integration and the development of activities linked with citizenship education. Cooperative learning in the classroom was envisaged as one the most important means to promote inclusion, increasing opportunities to link formal education to children’s daily lives.
This study revealed that 2 of these pre-service teachers’ main concern was to attain the goals set by national standards for primary education, while the other 2 implemented didactic strategies that aimed at including everyone in the classroom, to respond to their needs. Such strategies included reading practices aimed at developing children’s literary education and the development of projects to reinforce the importance of everyone’s participation in society, to increase engaged citizenship. Their reflections mirrored their deep involvement in children’s wellbeing and their difficulties to implement instructional practices that were not embedded in the school culture. The latter was seen a major obstacle to the extent that prevented the accomplishment of such practices. We concluded that there are still numerous challenges to attain European and international targets regarding education for inclusion. Pre-service teachers’ conceptions deserve, therefore, more attention, so that their deeper understanding might contribute to rethink contemporary didactics, encompassing a pedagogy of care, built upon the respect for learners’ diversity and needs.
Ainscow, M. (2005). Developing inclusive education systems: what are the levers for change? Journal of Educational Change, 6, 109-124. Bardin, L. (2004). Análise de conteúdo. Lisboa: Edições 70. Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S. (1994). Investigação qualitativa em educação. Porto: Porto Editora. Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 4th edition. London: Sage. Figueiredo, I. (2005). Mentor professional development in Portugal. In T. A. Alexandrou, K. Field & H. Mitchell (Eds.) The continuing professional development of educators: emerging european issues (pp. 41-60). Oxford: Symposium Books. Freeman, J. (2016). An innovative approach for addressing inclusion with teacher candidates. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 16 (1) 895–896. doi:10.1111/1471-3802.2_12347 Garnier, C. & Rouquette, M.‐L. (2000). Introduction. In C. Garnier & M.‐L. Rouquette (Dir.) Représentations sociales et éducation (pp. v‐xx). Montréal: Éditions Nouvelles. Hillen, S., Strum, T. & Willbergh, I. (2011). Introducing didactic perspectives to contemporary challenges. In S. Hillen, T. Strum & I. Willbergh (Eds.) Challenges facing contemporary didactics (pp. 9-24). Münster: Waxmann Verlag. Huber, J. (2012) (Ed.). Intercultural competence for all. Preparation for living in a heterogeneous world. Paris: Council of Europe. McMaster, C. (2012). Ingredients for inclusion: lessons from the literature. KAIRARANGA, 13 (2), 11-22. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ994981.pdf OECD (2010). Educating teachers for diversity: meeting the challenge. OECD Publishing. Oliveira, I. A. (2014). O método no contexto da representação social: o olhar para as pesquisas em educação. In I. A. Oliveira e S. S. C. Macedo (Orgs.) Epistemologia e educação: diferentes contextos e abordagens (pp. 138‐163). Belém – Pará: CCSEUEPA. Specht, J. (2016). Pre-service teachers and the meaning of inclusion. Journal of Research in Special Needs 16 (1), 894-900. doi: 10111/1471-3802.12347 UNESCO (2005). Guidelines for inclusion: ensuring access to education for all. Paris: UNESCO. UNESCO (2015). Education 2030. Incheon declaration and framework for action for the implementation of sustainable development goal 4. Paris: UNESCO. UNITED NATIONS (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. New-York. United Nations. Valtin, R., Bird, V., Brooks, G., Brozo, B., Clement, C., Ehmig, S., … Tamburlini, G. (2016). European declaration of the right to literacy. Cologne: European Literacy Policy Network. Werler, T. & Cameron, D. L. (2012). Special education and general didactics. From progression education to accountability. In T. Werler, D. L. Cameron & N. R. Birkeland (Eds.) When education meets the care paradigm (pp. 57-71). Münster: Waxmann Verlag.
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