10 SES 13 F, Research on Teacher Educators
In an era of risk, where previous certainties are being questioned, teacher educators must further develop skills and capacities, in order to effectively educate teachers of tomorrow who will teach under even more complex conditions than today. Hence, there is a need to focus on teacher educators´ professional learning (European Commission; 2013). Nevertheless, in a European perspective, there is a lack of focus on how to support teacher educators´ learning needs (Czerniawski, et. al., 2017). These professional learning needs involve the development of abilities related to their every-day tasks in teacher education. More specifically, teacher educators express their need of professional learning possibilities, implying working collaboratively as a part of a team. (Czerniawski, et. al., 2017). A key aspect of teacher educators, according to research studies in Europe and beyond, concerns mentor teachers, being of great significance for preparing student teachers for their future profession. As such, mentoring in teacher education is a significant component for student teachers´ professional development (Mena et. al., 2016). Since a paramount challenge for teacher education is to develop student teachers´ content knowledge and pedagogical skills, given that teacher education does not always succeed in this task, (Hobson & Malderez, 2013), there is a need for focusing on student mentors´ opportunities to develop their mentoring. More specifically, as preschool teachers´ preservice relationships contribute to their professional self-concept, it is crucial to acknowledge the mentors´ role as key learners in relationships of professional developmentin preschool education, focusing on both the personal and professional motivation of mentoring teachers (Walkington, 2005). There is also a need for a greater degree of meanings and aims in mentoring in teacher education (Hobson & Malderez, 2013). The complexity of mentoring also highlights the need for more extensive research into the relationship between the different elements that constitute mentor teacher knowledge, and how this can be developed. However, there are few studies that focus on examining the nature of mentors´ practice in teacher education related to pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) (Barnett & Fredrichsen, 2015). More research is needed regarding how teacher education affects a development of pedagogical knowledge (PK), contextual knowledge (CK) and PCK (Kleikmann, et. al., 2013). Altogether, the ambition of this paper is to explore student mentors´ professional development, when engaging in group reflections. The study is situated within an Academic school project. The project made possible new ways of developing teacher mentors´ professional learning, working collaboratively as a part of a team. The aim of the study is to contribute with knowledge concerning mentors´ professional development through didactic group conversations concerning their video documented group seminars with student teachers. The research question that pertains to the study is: In what way does (or does not) conversations between preschool teacher mentors concerning their group mentoring of student teachers, develop the mentors´ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)?
In order to emphasize teacher knowledge and the importance of the blend of content knowledge and knowledge of general pedagogy when teaching of a specific content, Shulman (1986, 1987) introduced the concept pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). At first, PCK signified one of the expert teacher´s professional knowledge bases. Subsequently, it was described as a representation of a blending of content and pedagogy, leading to an understanding of how a particular topic is organized, represented and should be adjusted to the diverse abilities of learners (Shulman, 1987). In 1999, a transformative model was introduced, representing a synthesis of knowledge needed to be an effective teacher (Gess-Newsome, 1999). According to this, PCK consists of the knowledge that influences teaching practice, the transformation of subject matter knowledge (SMK), pedagogical knowledge (PK) and contextual knowledge (CK). In this study, we have returned to this model, where PCK development is considered as a transformation where pedagogical knowledge (PK), contextual knowledge (CK) and subject matter knowledge (SMK) are developed. The study is situated within an Academic school project at a university in Sweden approved by the Swedish Government, with the major ambition to increase the quality of practicum in teacher education. This project made possible new ways of working with group student teacher-mentor conversations as well as student teacher collaborations. The researcher arranged video documented meetings at the university between the preschool teacher mentors, where the mentors discussed video documented sequences of their mentoring of student teachers during group seminars. In this qualitative case study (Yin, 2009), ten preschool teacher mentors from ten different preschools were selected, having experience of at least three years as student mentors within the project. The data collection was conducted over two semesters, comprising in seven hours of video documented conversations. The analysis is divided into inductive and deductive phases, inspired by content analysis (Graneheim & Lundman, 2004). During the inductive phase, initial themes were developed. During the deductive phase, data was analysed and coded in terms of specific examples of reflections related to the three knowledge bases. Reflections coded as pedagogical knowledge (PK) consist the preschool teacher mentors focusing on interactions with the student teachers, whereas contextual knowledge (CK) includes reflections of the context and student teacher behavior. Data coded as subject matter knowledge (SMK) involves preschool teachers´ reflections of their own conceptual understanding of a topic.
The main results indicate that student mentor conversations at the beginning and at the middle of the period are characterized by a focus on content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical knowledge (PK). Here, the conversations concerned the seminar context, the mentor character and groups size, expressions of both CK and PK. At the end of the period, there is a change towards acknowledging specific subject concepts, mostly within science, such as density, related to student teacher knowledge. The mentors´ conversations show their knowledge of the relation between subject matter knowledge (SMK), pedagogical knowledge (PK) and contextual knowledge (CK). This is indicative of a development of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Additionally, at the end of the period, the mentors perceive the seminars with the student teachers as an arena for joint learning. This study contributes with knowledge about a new way to enhance student mentors´ professional development, relevant to a European perspective, where didactic conversations between student mentors concerning their own mentoring in student teacher group seminars has shown to be a way to achieve just that. The results answer to the need of focusing on teacher educators´ professional learning (European Commission; 2013), and on how to support teacher educators´ learning needs (Czerniawski, et. al., 2017), by focusing on how teacher education can affect a development of pedagogical knowledge (PK), contextual knowledge (CK) and PCK (Kleikmann et. al., 2013). As such, the results present an innovative way of developing teacher educators, where student mentors were offered opportunities to reflect collaboratively as a part of a team (Czerniawski, et. al., 2017). In order to support teacher educators´ learning needs and increase their competence to effectively educate teachers of tomorrow, this study indicates that they should be given opportunities to engaged in shared, collaborative didactic reflections concerning their own mentoring practice.
Barnett, E. & Fredrichsen, P. (2015). Educative mentoring: how a mentor supported a preservice Biology teacher´s pedagogical content knowledge development. Journal of science teacher education, 26 (7) 647-668. Czerniawski G., Guberman A., MacPhail A. (2017). The professional development needs of higher education-based teacher educators: an international comparative needs analysis. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40 (1), 127-140. European Commission, (2013) Supporting Teacher Educators for Better Learning Outcomes. Brussels: European Commission. Gess-Newsome, J. (1999). Pedagogical content knowledge: An introduction and Orientation. In J. Gess-Newsome & N.G. Lederman (Eds.), Examining pedagogical content knowledge (pp. 3–17). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer. Graneheim, U. H., & Lundman, B. (2004). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24(2), 105-112. Hobson, A, J, and Malderez, A. (2013). Judgementoring and other threats to realizing the potential of school-based mentoring in teacher education. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 2, (2), 89-108. Kleikmann, T., Richter, D., Kunter, M., Elsner, J., Besser, M., Krauss, S., Baumert, J. (2013). Teachers´ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge: the role of structural differencies in teacher education. Journal of teacher education, 64 (1), 90-117 Mena, J; Garcia, M; Clarke, A & Barkatsas, A. (2016). An analysis of three different approaches to student teacher mentoring and their impact of knowledge generation in practicum settings. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39 (1), 53-76 Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22.
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