10 SES 01 B, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
School bullying is a worldwide phenomenon and one of the most crucial threats to well-being and effective learning in today’s increasingly polarized educational systems (Ansary et al., 2015; Harttgen & Klasen, 2009; Vreeman & Carroll, 2007). As a collaborative, socially constructed and dynamically changing problem, school bullying is a complex phenomenon that is shaped by the culture, policies and values of each school. Consequently, no single model, intervention or anti-bullying programme will fit all schools (Cross & Barnes, 2014; Søndergaard, 2014). Recent research on bullying intervention and prevention programmes emphasizes a whole school community approach (Ansary et al., 2015; Søndergaard, 2014; Cross & Barnes, 2014; Swearer et al., 2010). In these school communities, teachers as pedagogical leaders and change agents have a major role in intervening and preventing bullying (Ahtola et al., 2012). Therefore, initial and in-service teacher education must take off the important challenge of how to deal resource-wisely with issues concerning well-being and bullying at school.
This study considers bullying through the experiences of teachers and their sensemaking, which will be formed in dialogue within the whole school community. Weick (1995, xi) defines sensemaking as a process of ‘developing a set of ideas with explanatory possibilities’. Ancona (2012) further explains how sensemaking enables a better understanding of what is going on ‘there’. She emphasizes, along with many other scholars (e.g. Gioia & Chittipeddi, 1991; Weick et al., 2005), the crucial role of sensemaking in unknown but common situations. Here, the common situation is the need to find functional ways to intervene and prevent bullying. Weick’s theory of sensemaking in organizations is founded on individual as well as social activity (Weick, 1995, p. 6) and can be explained as giving meaning to uncertain and ambiguous experiences (Weick et al., 2005).
The research questions are: 1) How do the teachers experience sensemaking towards intervening and preventing bullying? 2) What key issues are encountered in intervening and preventing school bullying?
Sensemaking was studied through action research (Carr & Kemmis, 1886; Kemmis and Wilkinson, 1988), which was implemented in two Finnish comprehensive schools as part of teachers’ in-service training during one school year. The aim of the action research was to study the teachers’ sensemaking in order to develop a whole school culture towards intervening and preventing bullying. As Kemmis and Wilkinson (1988, p. 21) describe action research, the aim is to understand the reality in order to be able to change it. The purpose of this focus on change is to create better practices. In this case, there were no given intervention or anti-bullying programmes for the schools, instead the teachers together with the researchers constructed the contents of their training during the action research. The data consist of teachers’ focus-group interviews and individual, thematic interviews at the beginning, during and at the end of the research. Although teachers (n=44) were the informants, also the students with their parents and other stakeholders of school were involved in considering how to intervene and prevent bullying. Qualitative data was analysed using abductive analysis (Tavory & Timmermans, 2014) and through a process of systematic coding and a thematic content analysis (Vaismoradi, Jones, Turunen, & Snelgrove, 2016). Instead of careful analysis of conceptual elements or phases, sensemaking was used here as a perspective to illuminate the learning process of the teachers and their practices.
The analysis of the teachers’ sensemaking revealed four key elements that influenced the intervention and prevention of bullying: (1) Pedagogical resources and structures of the school, (2) Teachers’ ethical and emotional resources, (3) Students’ norms, values and involvement in developing the school culture, and (4) Epistemic differences in how bullying is defined. The research presents a practical yet research-based way of planning and implementing teachers’ in-service training for intervening and preventing school bullying. It also confirms the previous findings regarding the difficulty of defining bullying. In addition, it utilizes an organizational perspective to develop school culture. In summary, schools as organizations need to constantly reflect on their practices, values and resources in order to decrease bullying and promote the well-being of all community members. Bullying in schools is still a pervasive, complex and worldwide problem that challenges school practitioners, home-school actors, teacher educators, researchers and politicians at all educational levels to find and apply new ways and practices to confront the bullying phenomenon and to find new means to enhance well-being in schools.
Ahtola, A., Haataja, A., Karna, A., Poskiparta, E., & Salmivalli, C. (2012). For children only? Effects of the KiVa antibullying program on teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies 28(6), 851–859. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2012.03.006 Ancona, D. (2012). Framing and Acting in the Unknown. In S. Snook, N. Nohria, & R. Khurana. (Eds.), The handbook for teaching leadership: Knowing, doing, and being (pp. 3–19). Thousand Oaks CA: Sage. Ansary, N.S., Elias, M. J., Greene, M.B., & Green, S. (2015). Guidance for schools selecting antibullying approaches: Translating evidence-based strategies to contemporary implementation realities. Educational Researcher 44(1), 27–36. doi:10.3102/0013189X14567534 Carr, W., & Kemmis, S. (1986). Becoming critical: Education, knowledge and action research. London: Falmer Press. Cross, D., & Barnes, A. (2014). One size doesn’t fit all: Re-thinking implementation research for bullying prevention. In R. Schott & D. Søndergaard (Eds.), School Bullying: New Theories in Context (pp. 405–418). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139226707.022 Gioia, D.A., & Chittipeddi, K. (1991). Sensemaking and sensegiving in strategic change initiation. Strategic Management Journal 12, 433–448. doi:10.1002/smj.4250120604 Harttgen, K., & Klasen, S. (2009). Well-being of migrant children and migrant youth in Europe. (No 181) Ibero America Institute for Economy. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers. Kemmis, S., & Wilkinson, M. (1998). Participatory action research and the study of practice. In: B. Atweh, S. Kemmis, & P. Weeks (Eds.), Action Research in Practice: Partnerships for Social Justice in Education (pp. 21–36). London: Routledge. Søndergaard, D. (2014). From technically standardised interventions to analytically informed, multi-perspective intervention strategies. In R. Schott & D. Søndergaard (Eds.), School Bullying: New Theories in Context (pp. 389–404). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139226707.021 Swearer, S.M., Espelage, D.M., Vaillancourt, T., & Hymel, S. (2010). What can be done about school bullying? Linking research to educational practice. Educational Researcher 39(1), 38–47. doi:10.3102/0013189X09357622 Tavory, I., & Timmermans, S. (2014). Abductive analysis: Theorizing qualitative research. University of Chicago Press. Vaismoradi, M., Turunen, H., & Bondas, T. (2013). Content analysis and thematic analysis: Implications for conducting a qualitative descriptive study. Nursing & health sciences, 15(3), 398–405. doi:10.1111/nhs.12048 Vreeman, R.C., & Carroll, A.E. (2007). A systematic review of school-based interventions to prevent bullying. The Journal of the American Medical Association 161(1), 78–88. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.1.78 Weick, K.E. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage. Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K.M., & Obstfeld, D. (2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization Science 16(4), 409–421. doi:10.1287/orsc.1050.0133
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