10 SES 11 A, Academic Reading, Coherence and PCK in Teacher Education
Preservice teacher education (TE) around the world faces a multitude of, sometimes conflicting, political and professional demands on programming when it comes to the curriculum content, structure and activities. Two aims have been noted as particularly important over the last decade or so: the need to develop research-based TE and to simultaneously improve the orientation towards professional practice in the programs—i.e., to develop closer relationships with schools and current teaching practices.
Despite the valuable attributes of internship periods in TE, it is well documented that student teachers often experience cultural and epistemic differences between the teacher education courses on campus and the schools where they practice teaching (see, e.g.Alsup, 2006; Andersson & Andersson, 2008; Edwards & Mutton, 2007; Finlay, 2008; Gorodetsky & Barak, 2009; Ward, Nolen, & Horn, 2011). The students must still move and operate across these boundaries but are very often left alone to negotiate and reconcile clashes between the two epistemic worlds and sets of practices.
Several initiatives have been launched around the world to create integrative spaces in TE programs—e.g., occasionally bringing in K–12 teachers to teach in TE programs, hiring hybrid teacher educators (dual employment, school and TE institution), and incorporating representations of teachers’ practices into campus courses (Zeichner, 2010). In line with the latter, we report on a study in which we, as teacher educators, initiated an activity that we called article seminars. The aim of the seminars was to bring practitioner knowledge (students’ experiences from internships) and academic knowledge (empirical peer-reviewed studies) together on campus, in a less hierarchical way than ordinary lecturing, to create new learning opportunities for the students. The students were given a template for organizing their discussions in the seminars. Thus, in the activity, they could use terminology, resources and tools from both practices, potentially bridging them (c.f. Vesterinen, Kangas, Krokfors, Kopisto, & Salo, 2017) and forming new meaning (Zeichner, 2010). The students were asked to record their discussions and fill out a qualitative survey after attending the seminars.
Tools from the boundary-crossing literature are used as an analytical framework. Akkerman and Bakken point out some characteristics of boundary crossing. First, boundary crossing means negotiations, not agreement, and the appreciation of diversity and contradictions. Second, boundary crossing is different from “transfer.” It involves ongoing, two-sided actions and interactions and is thereby dialogical, whereas transfer is merely the application of general principles to a new situation or context (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011a; Bakker & Akkerman, 2014). In TE, theory and research have far too often been viewed as knowledge that one acquires on campus to use in internship practices. Finally, boundary crossing means “integrating different types of knowledge to be learned and used in different contexts” (Bakker & Akkerman, 2014, p. 223). Boundary crossing thereby offers an integrative perspective on learning that moves beyond single and singular domains (Akkerman & Bakker, 2011b).
Furthermore we explored what kinds of cross-context learning mechanisms (identification, reflection, operationalization and transformation) arose from the students’ discussions (c.f. Akkerman & Bakker, 2011a). Specifically, our underlying research questions were:
1) What kinds of epistemic resources did the students draw on in the reading seminars?
2) What kinds of cross-context learning mechanisms were visible in the seminar discussions?
3) In what way(s) can academic reading seminars be understood as a boundary-crossing activity?
This study is part of a longitudinal exploration of how teaching and learning activities can be designed and incorporated into a research-based TE course (Author, Under review). One of the activity types we designed was academic reading seminars, in a course called Science of Education. In their fifth semester, the students were required to participate in four to six reading seminars, working in groups of four to six students. We developed a template as a guide for the students’ approach to scientific articles. The students read increasingly advanced literature as the course progressed, and the articles were carefully selected to fit the course content. The data we analyzed in this article were from the three cohorts from 2015–2018 and consisted of the students’ recordings of the seminars and a qualitative survey carried out when the seminars where completed. To obtain a manageable dataset, one third of the recordings (n =13) from each cohort were randomly selected and transcribed verbatim. The recordings were made to try to capture how the students negotiated meaning as a group (dialogue) and individually (self-dialogue), using resources from both on- and off-campus TE practices. The survey was conducted as an online questionnaire with six open-ended questions concerning how the students experienced the seminars, what they had learned, how useful they thought the seminars were as a basis for writing a BA thesis and how relevant the seminars were for practicing as a teacher. The survey was carried out during a compulsory lecture, so the response rate was 100%, 89% and 82%, respectively, for the three successive cohorts. Our data analysis was conducted in two phases. First, the transcripts and the survey results were read thoroughly to identify the origins of the epistemic resources the students identified. Text passages were noted such as “in my experience,” “as my supervisor said/told me,” “one of my co-students said/experienced,” “in one our discussions during the internship period,” “as we learned in lectures,” “I read that,” “as I did when I was interviewing/observing” or “as we discussed in my study group.” In the second phase of the analysis, we performed a detailed coding of all the data with a coding scheme we developed based on Akkerman & Bakker’s (2011a) discussion of learning mechanisms (identification, reflection, operationalization and transformation).
First, we found that the students were able to draw upon epistemic resources acquired from both on- and off-campus activities. We also found that this ability gradually evolved due to the guidance the students received from the template. The template assisted the students in employing their knowledge—independently, systematically and over time—of theories and methodological issues, as well as integrating their own experiences from teaching practice to make sense of the articles. Second, we found that all the learning mechanisms identified by Akkerman and Bakker (2011a) were present in the students’ dialogues and statements, but to different degrees. Quite frequently, we found that the activity led to the identification of how the practices intersected and that resources from each practice (on- and off-campus) could contribute to the redefinition of the other practice. The students also frequently showed that they recognized the interrelatedness of resources from the two practices and were practicing coordination between the two in the seminars. Furthermore, some students were able to look differently at one practice by taking the perspective of the other (i.e., reflection). Finally, some, but very few, students expressed that the dialogue in the seminars led to transformation—i.e., changes—in their practices. Finally, regarding in what way(s) the academic reading seminars may be understood as a boundary-crossing activity, the answer is only partially. Our findings show that the students drew on resources from both practices to systematically make sense of the articles. We also believe that in a profound way, many of the prospective teachers will be able to identify, integrate and reflect upon research-based and practice-based resources in the future. However, our analysis is less clear on whether the students themselves mean that the above-mentioned learning outcomes have changed their teaching practice.
Akkerman, S., & Bakker, A. (2011a). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. Review of educational research, 81(2), 132-169. Akkerman, S., & Bakker, A. (2011b). Learning at the boundary: An introduction. International journal of educational research, 50(1), 1-5. Alsup, J. (2006). Teacher identity discourses: Negotiating personal and professional spaces: Taylor and Francis e-library. Andersson, I., & Andersson, S. (2008). Conditions for boundary crossing: Social practices of newly qualified Swedish teachers. Scandinavian journal of educational research, 52(6), 643-660. Author. (Under review). [details removed for peer review]. Bakker, A., & Akkerman, S. (2014). A boundary-crossing approach to support students’ integration of statistical and work-related knowledge. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 86(2), 223-237. Edwards, A., & Mutton, T. (2007). Looking forward: rethinking professional learning through partnership arrangements in Initial Teacher Education. Oxford Review of Education, 33(4), 503-519. Finlay, I. (2008). Learning through boundary‐crossing: further education lecturers learning in both the university and workplace. European Journal of Teacher Education, 31(1), 73-87. Gorodetsky, M., & Barak, J. (2009). Back to schooling: Challenging implicit routines and change. Professional Development in Education, 35(4), 585-600. Vesterinen, O., Kangas, M., Krokfors, L., Kopisto, K., & Salo, L. (2017). Inter-professional pedagogical collaboration between teachers and their out-of-school partners. Educational Studies, 43(2), 231-242. Ward, C. J., Nolen, S. B., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Productive friction: How conflict in student teaching creates opportunities for learning at the boundary. International journal of educational research, 50(1), 14-20. Zeichner, K. (2010). Rethinking the connections between campus courses and field experiences in college-and university-based teacher education. Journal of teacher education, 61(1-2), 89-99.
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