10 SES 02 C, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
The research project “Reflective Practitioner” studies the question how student teachers can develop a research-orientated attitude (Zeichner, 2015) as a key indicator for the professional teaching role. Reflective practice is a key principle of “good teaching” (Schön 1991, van Manen 2015) and might be described as “knowledge-in-action”. The present discourse about different characteristics und appearances of reflective teaching is substantial for pre-teaching education (Calderhead, 1989) and is initialised und supported by action research methods (Altrichter, Posch & Spann, 2018). Relevant processes (Elliott, 1989, 80) in educational and teaching practice have their origin in practical problems with proposed solutions and they are integrated in “problem frames” (Schön, 1991). Problem awareness rises from an undifferentiated thinking of practitioners while they try to realise their pedagogical values in complex practical situations. Jank & Meyer (2009, 131) describe two levels for reflection of teaching. In the first level, student teachers see the intransparent rationality, which complies with the institutional und biographic experiences. On the second level, teachers are able to develop explicit action rules resulting from conscious pictures of teaching. It might be reasonably assumed that the reconstructed practical knowledge and the explicit action rules can be easily verbalised in metaphors. To support this process, methods of action research can be applied. A promising approach for developing essential core teaching practices (Zeichner, 2015) that are not restrictive for developing an individual teaching style, are self-regulated plans. Schiefele and Pekrun (1996, 258) describe self-regulated learning as a form of learning by implementing self-determined strategies; they can be cognitive, metacognitive, volitional or behavioural in nature. Therefore, the starting point is the definition of the aims resulting from observation measures, including the interaction of “person”, “situation” and “behaviour” (Zimmermann, 2000, 16). It is probable that reflective processes play an essential role, as they are conducive for the interpretation and valuation of previous actions, thus influencing further objectives and learning processes. In this project, self-regulation, as a focus of research and a dimension of reflective practice, is based on the cyclic model of Schmitz & Wiese (2006). Resources like motivation, self-efficacy in the sense of a better belief in respect to self-abilities and emotions arise from the pre-action phase. Emotional states show in more difficult tasks probably as fear or aversion and in challenging or interesting tasks as hope of success, joyful anticipation and curiosity (Pekrun, Goetz, Titz & Perry, 2002). In the following action phase, cognitive (e. g. organisation, critical proofing, repetition, establishment of connections), metacognitive learning strategies (planning, self-control, regulation) as well as resource-orientated strategies (effort, attention, time management, learning environment, learning with study colleagues, literature work) are implemented. Both, self-monitoring and volitional components, ought to be proved. Attributions on self-reflection as impact factors on learning outcome, emotion and reaction in the post-action phase is also in the interest of this research. Consequently, the teacher students reflected their actions and drew conclusions for future learning processes.
The research pursues the goal to support and improve the reflective capability of student teachers. More concretely, it investigates whether student teachers use of educational theories to reflect on their teaching experiences increases due to the action-research based elements that were applied in the intervention. It also explores whether student teachers' capability in self-regulation as a core underlying competence for reflective practice can be supported by the intervention. Overall, it is investigated if a research-orientated attitude reflected in an openness and positive attitude towards educational theories and an adequate ability to regulate the own “research process” can be fostered.
For investigating the research question, a pre-study with an intervention in usage of action research methods has been done in the summer term 2018 at an Austrian University College of Teacher Education. Student teachers studying secondary education (N = 41) answered a questionnaire in a seminar before and after the intervention. The pre-study aimed at developing and trying out the intervention elements, receiving feedback from the student teachers on these elements (by applying a group discussion; N = 4) and at developing and checking the quality of the measures that were applied in the questionnaires. The intervention is mapped in the action research process (Altrichter, Posch & Spann, 2018) in the steps “Developing a starting point for the own research (A)” – “Collecting Data (B)” – “Interpretation and Definition of a practical theory” (C) – “Setting goals und evaluation criteria (D)” – “Acting in pedagogical situations (E)” – “Reflecting the actions (F)”. During the term, each teacher student reflected and self-observed her or his own chosen scientific starting point for good teaching (Meyer, 2016) in the sense of the action research process. Finding an issue worth investigating (A) student teachers use the concept map-method. Methods for B are e. g. interviewing an experienced teacher and self-observation in own practical teaching situations. For C and D they use various methods for visualisation (e. g. picture cards for associating emotions) and they worked with scientific articles with reference to A. In step E they focus in a classroom situation the research starting point (A). Meeting the reflection level, they discuss in tandems the action (E). The main study started in the winter term 2018/19 with two experimental groups (N = 58) and two control groups (N = 55) and continues in summer term 2019 with the same design (experimental group N = 59, control group N = 57). The experimental group obtains the intervention described above; the control group receives no intervention. Again, questionnaires were applied before and after the intervention (pre and post measure). In addition, group discussions with students of the experimental groups were held (N = 12). Thus, the study applies an embedded mixed methods approach (Creswell, 2015; QUAN + qual). Several closed-ended scales, e.g. assessing student teachers' attitudes towards educational theories as a means to reflect on their teaching experiences as well as student teachers' competencies in self-regulation, were applied. Student teachers were also asked to describe themselves as a teacher in an open-ended format (“How do you see yourself as a teacher?”).
The intervention is still taking place at the moment. The results (pre-post) will be available in July 2019. We will analyse if the intervention relying on action research methods had made a change in student teachers' inner-self towards a reflective practitioner. We expect the following outcomes: • Student teachers in the intervention group develop more positively with regard to their attitudes towards educational theories in order to support their teaching practices in comparison to the control group (Hypothesis 1). • We also expect that the accompanied emotions when dealing with educational theories in order to reflect on the teaching practice develop more positively in the experimental group in comparison to the control group (Hypothesis 2). • Furthermore, we assume that student teachers gain in self-regulation is more pronounced in the experimental group compared to the control group (Hypothesis 3). • Finally, we expect that a self-reflective self as a teacher becomes more evident in student teachers in the experimental group in comparison to the control group (Hypothesis 4). Hypothesis 1 to 3 will be analysed quantitatively using a MANOVA with the group affiliation as a between subject factor. Hypothesis 4 is based on the qualitative data and will be analysed using qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2000). In addition, we will use the results of the group-discussion in order to gain a more complete picture on the experiences of student teachers with regard to the intervention. Effects will be understood in-depth by bringing in this additional qualitative dimension. Again, we will use qualitative content analysis to analyse the group discussions. Results of the pre-study give first promising hints that elements of student teachers' reflective practice are likely to be positively affected by the intervention.
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