10 SES 12 A, Research and Teacher Education
The main goal of this paper is to report experiences and findings from the third and final year of the implementation of the project “REP-Synergy: Towards Improvement of Research Capacities Essential for Teacher Education and Practices in Serbia and Estonia”, (grant no. IZ74Z0_160511, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation within the SCOPES programme). Even the project is, simultaneously and with same design, implementing in Serbia and Estonia, this paper is reviewing activities and their outcomes done by Serbian partner. The main idea behind this project is to integrate research and teacher education (McNamara, 2002; Pollard et al., 2008; Brew, 2010) in order to improve teaching practice. Even this idea is not new or unknown, it is still an under-researched topic. The empirical examination and verification of this idea could have significant implications for not only teaching practice, but for pre- and in-service teacher education. This is especially true for Serbia where the current system of teacher education, as the educational system as whole, is still mainly focused on the transmission of general knowledge and with strong academic orientation (Pantić, 2009; Pavlović Babić & Baucal, 2013, OECD, 2017). Like in other Eastern European countries, Serbia is undergoing a permanent reform process, struggling to change focus on the learning and development of key educational and professional competencies. From the teacher perspectives, it means, among other, to be trained in order to build capacities for practice-led research and to use research results to improve their everyday professional practices (Loughran, Mitchell & Mitchell, 2002; Korthagen, 2004; OECD, 2007).
This project has supported direct collaboration between young researchers, mainly educated in the field of psychology, and (future) teachers from the Teacher Education faculty (younger PhD and post-doc researchers and teacher educators and practitioners) on the realization of a series of small-scale research studies. During three years, 32 participants were trained to reinforce their capacities to do research as well as to use research evidences to support teachers, school leaders and policy makers. It included workshops on the following topics: the role and logic of scientific research, different data collection techniques and analyses (such as applying software for video analysis of educational practices - Atlas, analysis of narratives – MaxQDA, basic quantitative statistics - SPSS), academic writing and oral skills.
The third year of project implementation was marked by realization of 13 collaborative research projects Some of the chosen research questions are: collaborative testing in teaching languages, efficiency of supplementary classes in high schools, compatibility between preschool and primary school curricula, improvement of children's discussion about art productions, game-based teaching versus traditional teaching, literacy and collaborative testing knowledge, efficiency in teaching natural sciences, professional identity and conceptual mapping in learning about the human body. The current phase is reporting findings in different forms and for different audience. Apart from conferences and exchange with the research community, such is this conference, the findings will be communicated with schools and teachers as well as with policy makers.
Regarding the nature of the project as whole, we can discuss the methods applied from two different perspectives. From the perspective of managing the project, research interests, as well as the willingness to cooperate are both assessed using the originally designed Questionnaire for project participants, which provided data of participants’ experience and expectations. Also, the collected data include the observation of workshops and activities’ discussions, as well as interviews with them. Those data were analyzed using qualitative methods (Arcidiacono, Baucal & Buđevac, 2011), by the identification of elements of reflexivity, beliefs and meaning-making processes about the implication of teachers and young researchers in designing research projects. Once when research teams were established, process of defining research questions, selecting the appropriate method, planning sample and writing project proposal were mentoring, and feedback was provided, both in written format and during face/to/face consultations. At the end of the process, mentoring has been covered preparations for reporting and disseminations of findings, such as articles for scientific journals, policy papers, papers to be submitted and presented at national and international conferences, have been covered by mentoring process. From the perspective of research projects realized by the participants, different types of research design and different data collection techniques and analyses were applied, while the most of the research teams opted to use mix-methods approach. Some teams were conducting secondary analysis of achievement data in different domains (reading, math, science), on the existing national and/or international databases and using the quantitative methodology. In addition, focus group discussions and interviews were conducting with teachers, school associates, students and parents in order to assess the possibilities to implement findings in the everyday practice. A number of groups have been analyzed narratives, using MaxQDA software. Again, the typical solutions for collecting narratives was to use multiperspective approach, which means to assess the issue (e.g. the quality and applicability of specific cognitive tasks) crossing estimates of different users. Some teams have been working on designing an piloting their own instruments, such as observations protocol, questionnaires on teachers’ and students’ perceptions or attitudes, guidelines for semi-structured interviews.
So far, the main result of the project is 13 collaborative research studies, currently in the phase of writing reports and presenting findings. This leads us to the conclusion that collaboration between researcher and teacher communities is not only possible, but could be fruitful, both in terms of improving competencies and improving teaching practice. Even if this sounds as predictable and obvious conclusion, it is not so. Namely, the data collected by the Questionnaire for participants applied at the beginning of the project indicated that existing practices and orientations in basic education made researchers and teachers different. They have different interests – while researchers are more interested in psychological process (interest, motivation, process of learning etc.), practitioners are interested in content (disciplinary knowledge and teaching). For first group the focus is on relatively general models and testing current models developed within psychology of education, for the second the focus is on transmission of academic knowledge from certain discipline. Finally, they do not share the same identity, since they belong to different and divided communities. So, this project is showing how it is possible to strengthen a culture of practice-led research and to build networks to exchange professional knowledge and to improve the collaboration at the institutional level. We see this as very important even this conclusion is true for small group of 32 people. Also, we hope that our findings can facilitate or just add some arguments for the reform of existing teacher pre-service education.
Arcidiacono, F., Baucal, A., & Buđevac, N. (2011). Doing qualitative research: The analysis of talk-in-interaction. In A. Baucal, F. Arcidiacono & N. Buđevac (Eds.), Studying interaction in different contexts: A qualitative view (pp. 17-45). Belgrade: Institute of Psychology. Brew, (2010). Imperatives and challenges in integrating teaching and research. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(2), 139-150. Korthagen, F. A. J. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 77-97. Loughran, J., Mitchell, I., & Mitchell, J. (2002). Learning from teacher research. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin. McNamara, O. (2002). Evidence based practice through practice-based evidence. In O. McNamara (Ed.), Becoming an Evidence-based Practitioner Based, A framework for teacher-researchers (pp. 15-26). London: Routledge. OECD. (2007). Teachers matter: Attracting, Developinganjd Retaining Effective Teachers, OECD Publishing, Paris. OECD (2017), Empowering and Enabling Teachers to Improve Equity and Outcomes for All, OECD Publishing, Paris. Pantić, N. (2009). Teacher education in Serbia: Towards a Competence-Based Model of Initial Teacher Education. In M. T. Tatto & M. Minu (Eds.), Reforming Teaching and Learning. Comparative Perspectives in a Global Era (pp. 149-164). Rotterdam: Sense. Pavlović Babić, D., Baucal, A. (2013). Motiviši me, inspiriši me PISA 2012 prvi rezultati (Motivate Me, Inspire Me: PISA 2012 first results). Belgrade: Institute of Psychology and Centre for Applied Psychology. Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J., & Warwick, P. (2008). Reflective Teaching. Evidence-informed Professional Practice. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group
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