23 SES 02 A, Teacher Education
European teacher education programs are commonly divided in on one hand elementary school teacher education and on the other hand secondary/upper secondary teacher education. While there are intelligible reasons to have (e.g.) different subject matter courses for different categories of teacher students, there seems to be vaguer reasons to differ between contents in (e.g.) general courses, or courses on assessment, curriculum theory or in the sociology of education. Still, the education for future elementary teachers and secondary/upper secondary teachers tend to rely on different knowledge bases and promote different professional identities (Garm & Karlsen, 2004; Player-Koro & Sjöberg, 2018).
Age-based differentiation of teacher education programs has long characterized teacher education in Sweden. Students have traditionally been recruited from different social classes and genders, and their educations have been organized in different educational institutions and relied on different educational traditions. Historically, elementary teacher education was organised at separate seminaries and (later) teacher colleges while secondary/upper secondary teacher education was organised at Universities. This division has been a/the dominant structuring principle despite ambitions in Sweden to establish a unified teacher education program with a common and scientifically grounded professional knowledge base for all teachers (Beach, Bagley, Eriksson & Player-Koro 2014).
The ambition to establish a unified teacher education program has been abandoned in the recent reforms, where a dualistic knowledge-based teacher education with strict boundaries between teaching in different ages/grades has been reintroduced. A re-traditionalisation of teacher education that rests on the argument that different categories of teachers require different types of knowledge. This re-traditionalisation is by no means a unique state of affairs in Sweden. It is rather part of a European trend where emphasis shifts from professional know-why and research-based theoretical knowledge; toward practical know-how and subject content knowledge (Beach & Bagley, 2012, 2013).
The overall aim with this paper is to investigate how teacher education policy is transformed, distributed and translated in local policy documents for prospective primary and secondary teachers. More specifically, we aim to analyse how policy is enacted in elementary and upper-secondary examination practices. Theoretically, we draw on Bernstein´s (2000) model of the pedagogic device to describe the processes by which policy knowledge is selectively translated into what is taught and evaluated, i.e. the pedagogic discourse. The pedagogic discourse encapsulates both what is to be learned and how this should be done. According to Bernstein, assessments are the clearest expressions of a pedagogic discourse in pedagogic practice. How and what is evaluated thus sends a powerful message about what is counted as valid knowledge for the teacher profession. We use the concepts of horizontal and vertical discourses to analyse what and how knowledge is assessed in the two programs’ examination practices. A horizontal discourse is characterised by everyday language and common-sense knowledge about specific social practices, and tends to be oral, local, tacit, context-dependent and organized in segments. A vertical discourse is characterised by specialised language and clear criteria for what counts as valid (academic) knowledge, and tends to be hierarchic, coherent, explicit and context independent (Bernstein, 1999). While a horizontal discourse can be useful for teacher students to develop classroom practice skills (know-how), a vertical discourse is more likely to mediate theoretical knowledge, general principles and, thus, increased autonomy for future teachers (know-why). The comparison of examination practices in terms of vertical and horizontal discourses will thus not only display what count as valid knowledge in the two programs. It will also enable an analysis of how different knowledge bases and professional identities are reproduced.
The paper draws on local policy data from elementary and upper secondary teacher education programs at one of the largest Swedish teacher education institutions, including examination descriptions in course guides, in examinations (e.g. hand-in assignments or seminar instructions) and in online course descriptions. We chose courses in the two programs that were similar to each other in order to enable comparisons. The courses have general aims and scopes on teaching, learning and assessment. These types of courses concern what Bernstein (2003) called the trivium of teacher education which refers to knowledge forms in teacher education that (e.g.) can provide general pedagogical knowledge about teachers’ profession and work. The selected courses are thus closely related to the reproduction of future teachers’ professional identities and knowledge bases. The data will be analysed in two steps. First, NVivo is used to perform a theoretically informed qualitative analysis of local policy examination descriptions of the pedagogic discourse (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Local policy documents are read multiple times in order to identify and code examination descriptions in terms of form, content and knowledge structure. The codes are then converted to numeric values and entered into SPSS in order to create a descriptive compilation of the codes and enable further quantitative analysis. SPSS is then used to perform an exploratory factor analysis with the aim to identify underlying dimensions in the data which can highlight similar/different pedagogic discourses in the programs’ examination practices. In short – the methodology is selected to analyse the knowledge bases and professional identities that are encouraged in the two programs’ examination practices.
Based on the two-stepped analysis of local policy document, we expect to see what professional identities and knowledge based that are reproduced in the two programs. We will discuss the form and content of the pedagogic discourse, for instance whether horizontal or vertical discourses are more prominent in the examination practices – that is if the examinations tend to be oral, context-dependent and school-based, with requirements to make inferences from self-reflections on everyday schoolwork; or if they tend to be written, context-independent and theoretical with requirements to primarily make inferences from established (public) theories and knowledge. Our intention is to make visible the pedagogic discourse in the two programs in terms of what professional identities and knowledge bases that are represented. Moreover, we will focus on how different knowledge bases and professional identities are reproduced via examinations in courses and if there are differences between contents for different categories of teachers. Finally, if there are (unmotivated) differences between the programs, we will discuss the consequences of increasing differentiation between teachers’ professional identities and what the differences means for the trivium of teacher education.
Beach, D., Bagley, C., Eriksson, A. & Player-Koro, C. (2014). Changing teacher education in Sweden: Using meta-ethnographic analysis to understand and describe policy making and educational changes. Teaching and Teacher Education, 44, p. 160-167. Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: an essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(2), p. 157-173. Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: Theory, research, critique. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield. Bernstein, B. (2003). Class, codes and control. Vol. 4, The structuring of pedagogic discourse. London: Routledge. Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), p. 77-101. Garm, N. & Karlsen, G. E. (2004). Teacher education reform in Europe: the case of Norway; trends and tensions in a global perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education 20, p. 731-744. Player-Koro, C. & Sjöberg, L. (2018). Becoming a primary education teacher - pedagogic discourses in the teacher education program’s examination practice. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, p. 1-14.
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