10 SES 06 C, Teacher engagement, assessment practices and strategic partnership
As the ECER program theme suggests, the continued prevalence of social, political, and cultural transformation throughout Europe and the world heightens the need for research on issues of inclusion and exclusion at all levels of teaching practice. Educational researchers can further this aim by producing research and constructing knowledge concerned with navigating political complexity and ensuring opportunities for equal access and participation in educational environments. Teacher educators’ experiences of negotiating the contested nature of educational institutions are of particular relevance to educators interested in affirming diversity and embodying democratic values in classrooms around the world. How assessment practices are constructed, both formally and informally, to enact authority and influence prospective teachers within the organizational context of teacher education institutions, is of particular relevance to educators concerned with maximizing teachers’ professional preparation and development. The purpose of this paper is to present findings from an investigation of the micropolitical dimensions of teacher educators’ assessment practices in two countries, with particular attention to the implications of such practices for making teacher education more democratic.
The quest to balance freedom and authority in assessment processes, reverse prevailing trends towards authoritarian and dogmatic instruction, and increase teachers’ capacity to skillfully navigate the complex political realities of schools amidst heightened reliance on high-stakes accountability measures, is perhaps best embodied by the concept of micropolitical literacy (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002). Micropolitical literacy refers to the process of learning to comprehend, interpret, and act upon the varied strategies and tactics used by individuals and groups to advance their interests in organizational contexts. Such interests, which may be pursued through actions characterized by conflict and/or collaboration and coalition-building to achieve individual or shared goals, are particularly pronounced in times of change. The manner in which educators themselves contribute to their organizations’ political cultures and influence others through employing resources of power and authority to advance their interests constitutes the domain of school micropolitics (Ball, 1987).
Conducting research into the micropolitical dimensions of teacher educators’ assessment practices is particularly important in Europe since many countries are emerging democracies with fragile educational reforms (Breca & Anderson, 2010). Due to unstable economic and political contexts, transitioning to more democratic forms of organizational citizenship is both needed and desired (Koshmanova & Ravchyna, 2008). Educators can help create such a reality by further developing their pedagogical skill, knowledge, and perspective concerned with learning to live more congruently with democratic principles and values in school contexts (Zogla, 2001). Given the increased attention to the professional development of teacher educators in such countries as the Netherlands (Lunenberg, Dengerink, & Korthagen, 2014), the United Kingdom (Czerniawski, Guberman, & MacPhail, 2017), and Belgium (Kelchtermans, Smith, & Vanderlinde, 2017), it is particularly important that teacher educators move beyond transmission-based approaches to embody experiential practices (Loughran, 2006). Understanding more deeply the complexity of teacher educators’ assessment practices can help improve teacher education and advance our knowledge of the field.
We know very little, however, about how the development of micropolitical literacy is informed by assessment. While micropolitical analyses have been conducted on such topics as teacher development (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002) and mentoring (Achinstein, 2006), they have not been sufficiently applied to the micropolitical dimensions of teacher educators’ assessment practices. While researchers recognize that assessment practices are conventionally animated by authoritarian assumptions (Lorente-Catalan & Kirk, 2014), additional insights are necessary for gaining expanded empirical knowledge into the relevance of assessment practices for cultivating micropolitical literacy (Kelchtermans & Vanassche, 2017). The following question was therefore investigated in this study: what micropolitical dimensions of teacher educators’ assessment practices in the USA and Australia were evident?
A grounded theory methodological approach to this research was employed for its relevance to systematically examining the micropolitical dimensions of participants’ engagement with assessment practices (Glaser & Strauss, 1999). The concept of critical incidents (Tripp, 1993) was also used for its relevance to reasoning more deeply about the complexity of authority relations embedded in such practices. The research was conducted in two phases: first, in two U.S. states (one in the Northeastern U.S., and one in the Southeastern U.S., involving one teacher educator and 33 prospective teachers in their final year of teacher education studies); second, in a Southeast Australian state, involving one teacher educator and fifteen prospective teachers in their final year of teacher education studies. Each agreed to participate in the study as it had been approved by the university ethics process. Data included complete transcripts of audio-recorded class activities (43 sessions), meetings with students outside of class (40), and informal discussions and debriefings (25), plus a variety of documents like e-mails and journal reflections. To analyse the data, I used a range of grounded theory methods: (1) constant comparison involved continually comparing incidents in the data with previous incidents of similar and different attributes until stable categories emerged to give rise to the findings for the study. I used computer software to facilitate this process of constant comparison; (2) theoretical saturation involved arriving at conceptually abstract categories until no new codes could be clearly articulated or integrated. Such categories were not forced into pre-determined theoretical frames, but allowed to inductively emerge from the data; (3) writing memos consisted of maintaining a detailed record of the decision-making processes that informed all of my research activities. Maintaining such records enhanced the dependability of the findings by providing a detailed audit trail from which others could replicate my processes (Glaser & Strauss, 1999). I enhanced the credibility of the findings through negative case analysis—the process of examining situations that were contrary to what was expected or were inconsistent with participants’ contributions in the data (Patton, 2002). Overall, this iterative and inductive method, which proceeded line-by-line through four complete passes through the data set, helped me discern more deeply what was happening in the data and develop themes to illuminate the phenomena being examined based on having elicited multiple perspectives on key events (Ball, 1994).
Since micropolitics tend to operate behind the scenes, becoming visible where conflicts are apparent, discerning the micropolitical dimensions of teacher educators’ assessment practices can be challenging. Critical incidents and events that highlighted divisions, alliances, and tensions were nevertheless invaluable for illuminating key contrasts in teacher candidates’ and teacher educators’ experiences across the two countries. Significant institutional, ideological, and individual constraints to reconfiguring assessment practices in ways that were congruent with democracy were evident throughout the data. In the paper, I will elaborate on key contrasts concerning teacher educators’ efforts to implement an individualised contract-based approach to assessment and grading in the U.S. in relation to navigating more rigidly-defined authoritarian assumptions concerning the content, process, and purpose of assessment in Australia. I will pay particular attention to implications for teacher educators’ assessment practices in Europe and internationally. Teacher educators could respond to the findings from this study by taking steps to reconstruct the role of grading and assessment from instruments of control to resources for open expression, as a basis for cultivating classroom communities of inquiry in which reasoning is emphasized over indoctrination. Such actions could provide a basis for imagining educational environments in teacher education where the focus is on learning, not grading; responsible accountability, not unilateral authority; democracy, not domination—presenting paths toward balancing teacher educators’ aims with institutional and cultural constraints while fostering active participation in democratic life. With expanded knowledge concerning the micropolitical dimensions of teacher educators’ assessment practices, teacher educators could help candidates experience alternatives to conventional assessment practices while learning to implement such alternatives in their own future teaching. Doing so could be one means of establishing inclusive educational environments and, in so doing, transforming teacher education (Ellis & McNicholl, 2015).
Achinstein, B. (2006). New teacher and mentor political literacy: Reading, navigating and transforming induction contexts. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 12(2), 123-138. Ball, S. J. (1987). The micropolitics of the school: Towards a theory of school organization. London: Methuen. Ball, S. J. (1994). Micropolitics of schools. In T. Husen & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education (2nd ed., Vol. 7, pp. 3821-3826). Oxford: Elsevier. Breca, S., & Anderson, K. (2010). The transition-reform dilemma: Kosovo -- emerging democracy and resistance factors at its Faculty of Education. Interchange, 41(2), 185-200. Czerniawski, G., Guberman, A., & MacPhail, A. (2017). The professional developmental needs of higher education-based teacher educators: An international comparative needs analysis. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(1), 127-140. Ellis, V., & McNicholl, J. (2015). Transforming teacher education: Reconfiguring the academic work. London: Bloomsbury. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1999). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter. Kelchtermans, G., & Ballet, K. (2002). Micropolitical literacy: Reconstructing a neglected dimension in teacher development. International Journal of Educational Research, 37, 755-767. Kelchtermans, G., Smith, K., & Vanderlinde, R. (2017). Towards an 'international forum for teacher educator development': An agenda for research and action. European Journal of Teacher Education, 41(1), 120-134. Kelchtermans, G., & Vanassche, E. (2017). Micropolitics in the education of teachers: Power, negotiation, and professional development. In J. Clandinin & J. Husu (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 441-456). London: SAGE. Koshmanova, T., & Ravchyna, T. (2008). Teacher preparation in a post-totalitarian society: An interpretation of Ukrainian teacher educators' stereotypes. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 21(2), 137-158. Lorente-Catalan, E., & Kirk, D. (2014). Making the case for democratic assessment practices within a critical pedagogy of physical education teacher education. European Physical Education Review, 20(1), 104-119. Loughran, J. (2006). Developing a pedagogy of teacher education: Understanding teaching and learning about teaching. New York: Routledge. Lunenberg, M., Dengerink, J., & Korthagen, F. (2014). The professional teacher educator: Roles, behaviour, and professional development of teacher educators. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching: Developing professional judgement. New York: Routledge. Zogla, I. (2001). Democratisation in Latvian education: Teachers' attitudinal change. European Journal of Teacher Education, 24(2), 143-156.
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
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.