23 SES 09 B, Negotiating the Meanings of Learning Outcomes as a Policy and Pedagogic Device: Teacher education and professional identities across Europe
Observing the increasing complexity and fluidity of the conditions of knowledge production and recontexualisation at global, national and institutional levels, this symposium takes up the call of developing an interdisciplinary approach to argue the “ambiguous nature” of learning outcomes (LOs). We study LOs as a powerful policy tool of accountability and as a widely disseminated pedagogic means for Higher Education (HE) curricula development across disciplines, national and institutional contexts in Europe and around the world (Caspersen et al.,, 2017, p. 12). The symposium focuses on teacher education (TE) and brings together perspectives from north, south and central Europe, drawing on both their cultural, political and educational differences, as well the “Europeanization” and market pressures experienced across the different contexts of the symposium papers.
An extensive body of literature, especially after the beginning of the Bologna Process, explores the transformation of “[t]he humble learning outcomes … from being a peripheral tool to a central device to achieve radical educational reform of European higher education” (Adam, 2008, p. 5, in Murtonen et al., 2017, 116). Α recent systematic review of LO studies shows that most of the relevant literature either discusses the conditions of the widespread policies on LO across Europe and the rest of the world or poses the problem of poor implementation results and the complexity of the process, proposing solutions and best practices for successful writing of lists of learning outcomes with reference to knowledge, competences and skills (Murtonen et al., 2017). A key contribution of this and other such work is that it critically questions the epistemological assumptions underlying the current ways of writing LOs as well as documenting the return of a strong behaviorist rationale fueling the relevant education policy and learning research production. However, such work also points to the lack of critique to the hegemony of behavioristic assumptions; stresses that the imposition of meanings that reduces learning to quantifiable outcomes disconnects it from the complexity of the educational environments where it takes place; and highlights some of the legitimate faculty-driven efforts at curriculum development and course evaluation. This point is consistent with the position developed by scholars within the tradition of critical realism, who argue that the globally imposed shift from the epistemological form of accountability of disciplinary knowledge to the managerial one, reliant on generic criteria of LOs and competences, is weakening knowledge forms and changing power relations, transforming the social basis of universities and professions (Beck & Young, 2005; Moore, 2006; Muller, 2009; cf Sarakinioti et al. 2011; Stavrou, 2016).
Though these analyses are helpful critically identifying some fundamental changes in the general conditions of curricular knowledge construction, resulting from the location of LOs as a central element of the current policy landscape, the symposium attempts a more open-ended exploration of the potential meanings of LOs for TE and teachers’ professional identities, focusing on the knowledge resources of research and inclusion.
Our previous work, based on Bernstein (2000), to analyse the changing relations “between” and “within” the policy field and teacher higher education and professional fields, provides evidence that hybrid forms of knowledge and identities are emerging. This suggests that there is a need for us to further problematise LOs discourses and the ways they are played out in specific fields of knowledge recontextualisation and in local arenas of pedagogic practice of European TE from a perspective that combines critical policy studies on European governance and teacher education curriculum research. In this way, the contributors will discuss the political, pedagogic, and epistemological dimensions of teacher education in general and LOs in particular across the national and institutional contexts analysed in the papers.
Beck, J. & Young, M. (2005). The assault on the professions and the restructuring of academic and professional identities: a Bernsteinian analysis. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(2): 183-197. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Theory, research, critique. Revised edition. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Caspersen, J, Frølich, N. & Muller, J. (2017) Higher education learning outcomes-Ambiguity and change in higher education. Eur J Educ. 52: 8–19. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12208 Moore, R. (2006). Knowledge structures and intellectual fields: Basil Bernstein and the sociology of knowledge. In Knowledge, power and educational reform, ed. R. Moore, M. Arnot, J. Beck and H. Daniels. London: Routledge. Muller, J. (2009). Forms of knowledge and curriculum coherence. Journal of Education and Work, 22 (3): 203–224. Murtonen, M., Gruber, H., Lehtinen E. (2017). The return of behaviourist epistemology: A review of learning outcomes studies. Educational Research Review, 22: 114-128. Sarakinioti, A., Tsatsaroni, A. & Stamelos, G. (2011). Changing knowledge in Higher Education. In G. Ivinson, B. Davies & J. Fitz (Eds.), Knowledge and Identity: Concepts and applications in Bernstein's sociology (pp. 69-89). London: Routledge. Stavrou, S. (2016). Changing official knowledge in economy-based societies: Ηigher education policy, projected identities and epistemic shift. In P. Vitale & B. Exley (Eds.), Pedagogic rights and democratic education (pp.118-132). London: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.
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
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