10 SES 12 A, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
A new priority among OECD countries and partner economies is to teach 21st century skills because nowadays learning environments are becoming increasingly diverse and the future challenges in our constantly changing society and economy are not foreseeable (OECD, 2017). Therefore, a key issue for teachers is to cope with the uncertainty of how to decide on adequate action in new complex situations (Zehetmeier et al., 2015) and how to deal with permanently changing tasks in school life (OECD, 2018). To tackle these challenges, professional teachers have to transfer current pedagogical and research-based knowledge into professional practice. This process was termed by Levin (2013) as knowledge-to-action.
Teacher education has to prepare teacher education students for these challenges. Therefore, embracing uncertainty should be addressed more strongly by enhancing self-regulated learning as a tool of promoting prospective needed knowledge and skills for future teachers (Brew, 2006; Wulf, 2017). To this end, Mieg (2017) has proposed research based learning, as a principle of higher education didactics that encourages self-regulated learning and the transfer of knowledge to action. Action research, in German literature also referred to as practitioner research (Fichten & Meyer, 2014), is one approach of research based learning (Healy & Jenkins, 2009). This approach can be applied to teacher education to meet current challenges by encouraging teacher education students to develop their professional learning by reflecting on and exploring their individual practice with the aim of improving teaching through conducting research. Action research always focuses on professional learning which implies reflection, further development of teaching, and acting within a professional community (Altrichter, Posch & Somekh, 2005). Furthermore, reflection, research, and teaching competences can be further developed through conducting research in practice (Altrichter, 2005).
The present contribution aims at presenting one concept of internship-integrated research based learning in the context of teacher education and delivers results of a longitudinal study on its learning outcomes.
First, the concept “PPS-PR” (Personalized Professionalization in Pedagogical Fields trough Practitioner Research) is introduced. PPR-PR builds upon implementing practitioner (action) research by teacher education students for their professional development (Fichten & Meyer, 2014; Altrichter, Posch, & Somekh, 2005). It is based on the assumption that professional learning of teacher education students can be fostered by conducting action research projects during internships (Eliott, 1989; Burns, 2010).
Second, results of a longitudinal study investigating the learning outcomes of the teacher education students by PPS-PR are presented. During the last decades, a number of studies dealt with action research implemented in teacher education. Findings concerning teacher education students’ learning outcomes regarding their reflective competence, research competence, development of their practice, and theory-practice-transfer are strongly differing and are mainly based on studies with small samples (Rock & Levin 2002; Smith & Sela 2005, Kotsopoulos, Mueller & Buzza 2012; Fichten & Meyer 2014; Ulvik 2014; Ryan, Young & Kraglund-Gauthier 2017; Ulvik, Riese & Roness 2017). Before this backdrop, this contribution aims at presenting results of learning outcomes concerning professional learning in the view of teacher education students of a broader sample in a longitudinal perspective.
PPR-PR Within the scope of PPS-PR, teacher education students (Bachelor for Primary School Education) were instructed by internship-advisors to conduct one practitioner research project per semester about a subjectively relevant research topic during their internship. Teacher education students’ practitioner research projects included (1) classroom observation at the beginning of each semester, (2) selection of the subjectively relevant research topic, (3) development of teaching activities concerning the subjectively relevant topic and development of research questions and research design, (4) implementation of topic-related teaching activities during weekly school internships, (5) examination of effects of teaching activities by collecting and analysing data, and (6) presentation of results of the practitioner research project and transfer possibilities to future teaching at the end of the semester. Procedure & Design An exploratory mixed-methods design was used to address the research question: Which learning outcomes do teacher education students report after having conducted practitioner research projects? Following this design approach, qualitative data collection and analysis were conducted within a 1st cohort of teacher education students (academic year 2015/2016). Teacher education students of the 3rd, 4th and 5th semester were invited to participate in an online survey after conducting their practitioner research projects. The sample consisted of 312 participants (response rate of 88.33%). Responses to an open question concerning learning outcomes were analysed by means of qualitative content analyses with deductive and inductive category development. Response frequencies per category were calculated. On the basis of this first data collection and analyses, 23 closed questions concerning the learning outcome related research topics were inter alia deducted. These questions were the basis for a questionnaire used for a 2nd cohort (n=124; response rate of 91.85%). This quantitative data about learning outcomes concerning professional learning of teacher education students was analysed by means of factor analysis. The 2nd cohort of teacher education students will participate in two further surveys. Additionally, teacher education students, mentor teachers, and internship advisors are and will be interviewed during semester 2018/19 and semester 2019/20.
Content analysis (4 main categories; 16 subcategories) of the 1st cohort´s data indicated that 95% of the teacher education students reported positive learning outcomes, especially in the category of methodical competence (52.88%). Further learning outcomes were also reported, but less frequently: personal competence (17.31%), teaching subject related competence (4.17%) and social competence (3.53%). Factor analysis of the 2nd cohort`s data showed four higher-order factors of learning outcomes: (1) learner centered teaching, (2) communicating during teaching, (3) researching, and (4) structuring of teaching. Results showed learning outcomes in the area of the subjectively relevant research topic that the teacher education students had chosen for themselves. Moreover, learning outcomes in areas which were not topic related were also reported by the teacher education students. The comparison of the analyses shows that categories derived in the first survey could not be identified as factors through factor analysis of the second survey´s data. A particularly noteworthy result is that teacher education students did not report learning outcomes in the field of research competence during the first survey but reported an increase in this area during the second study. Both surveys´ results indicate that teacher education students report topic related and not topic related learning outcomes. Overall, learning outcomes concerning the development of teaching are most frequently reported. Corroborating other findings, our results indicate that the systematic research of one’s own teaching can enhance the development of pedagogical-practical acting and research competences (Altrichter et al., 2005; Smith & Sela, 2005; Kotsopoulos, Mueller & Buzza, 2012). Additionally, the findings support the transfer hypothesis postulated by Fichten and Meyer (2014) and correspond with results of other studies (cf. Ulvik, Riese & Roness, 2017). Taken together, our results confirm that the concept PPS-PR can be viewed as a learning environment that enhances professional learning.
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