10 SES 09 E, Research on Teacher Induction and Early Career Teachers
Starting with the OECD movement (OECD, 1989), reflection has been seen as an important asset in initial teacher training programs and is part of a wider education paradigm that supports the shift from competence - based teacher training towards a more professionally - oriented approach. Taking into consideration these shifts, a more cognitive stimulating process, that implies the use of a reflective portfolio as a learning tools, can be seen as a viable alternative that can allow student teachers to engage in critical reflection activities about their own learning process and about others learning experiences. The aim of the use of the reflective portfolio can be related to development of special skills in order to allow student teacher be able to critically reflect on their own learning experiences, while being able to link theory and practice. Moreover, the engagement in the process of writing a reflective portfolio can empower students to develop strategies in order to cope with more complex learning situations, or in other words, will give students a clear understanding of what they actually know and how that knowledge was acquired (Sultana, 2005). Specifically, at the level of initial teacher training, the reflective portfolios have numerous advantages, starting with the possibility of giving student teachers the possibility to have a clearer philosophy of what does the teaching process means and implies, but also at the same time giving student teachers the opportunity to document their own learning experiences, thoughts, actions and subsequent learning about teaching (Borko, et.al, 1997). Berrill & Whalen (2007) came with a newly added value idea that focuses on the reflective portfolios as a support for focused reflection, rather than vague generalized thinking about one’s learning experience, making the portfolio a tool for empowering student to take control of their learning (Marin, 2015). Sustaining the argument above, but with a more professional development focus, Klenowski (2000) adds that reflective teachers are seen as being more self-directed toward their development, while Lyons (1998) talks about reflective teachers as being able to sustain the development of more collaborative communities of teachers who can easily interrogate themselves about their own practices. As presented above the advantages of the reflective portfolio are visible both during the initial teacher training system, but also during the continuous professional development. Several authors (Brockbank & McGill, 2007, Henderson, et al,2004; Van Woerkom, 2010; Iucu and Marin, 2014) argue that reflective learning encourages understanding through the process of deep learning, while enabling students to construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct the knowledge based on new learning experiences. In a nutshell, reflective portfolios can be used during the initial teacher training and continuous professional development, providing learners with a summative document that has as aim to outline how their achievements and failures influenced their development as an educational professional.
The methodology involved in this study is based on focus groups that were conducted at the end of a university course study. The focus groups took place yearly, between 2014-2018 and it aimed to identify student teachers´ attitudes and beliefs towards using a reflective portfolio as a way to develop understanding through reflection. The focus group was conducted with a group of student teachers (n=56) enrolled in their 2nd year of study at the Department of Education, University of Bucharest and are at the end of their compulsory study course in the field of Classroom Management. The course structure is based on the idea of creating a simulation teaching environment where students must plan, organize, implement and evaluate teaching activities. One essential element is that all the teaching activities are held by groups of 8-10 students (peer-teaching practice), based on the topic of the six dimensions of the classroom management, as defined by Iucu (2006): Ergonomics classroom dimension; Psychological classroom dimension; Social classroom dimension; Operational classroom dimension; Normative classroom dimension; and Innovative classroom dimension. During and after the process of peer-teaching and observing their colleagues teaching, all students have the responsibility to write a reflective portfolio that must include their own observation, thoughts, ideas regarding this learning experience. This dual perspective, of students that are involved in peer-teaching activities and students that have a role of observer, can help them to have a wider understanding of what the process of teaching really implies. Each focus groups have a duration of approximately 60 minutes and all typescripts were analyzed using a coding system that was developed based on the theoretical framework. In order to facilitate coding, data management and promote transparency, the Maxqda 11 software for qualitative data analysis was used. The selected quotations were compared to identify patterns and similarities. All the interviewers were marked by code, from I1 to I56. This study is currently ongoing at the Centre for Development and Training in Higher Education (CDFIS), the University of Bucharest, but some preliminary results can be further developed.
During the focus group activities, while asking students about their attitudes and beliefs regarding the use of reflective portfolio as learning tool in higher education several aspects arose. The first idea emphases the advantage of such an activity by giving student teacher the possibility to identify their tacit knowledge, as well as gaps in their both scientific and didactic knowledge, as a long term process. Other ideas are related to the process of writing a reflective portfolio that is seen as an ongoing process that helped student teachers discover the knowledge gaps, especially in constructing a clear discourse while using specific terminology and this may be an indicator of the lack of content mastery, that can make the difference between being a professional in this field or an amateur. Another aspect that arose was related to the students` autonomy in learning. Keeping in mind that autonomous learners are both motivated and reflective learners, students that participated in the focus groups draw the attention on the fact that the process of reflecting can greatly benefit from peer discussions, that can give the possibility to identify what works and what does not, while questioning values and where they came from. Also, it enables professionals or future professionals to clearly identify strengths, as a future teacher, and helps highlighting some weaknesses that may interfere in teaching daily practices.
1.Berrill, D. P., & Whalen, C. (2007). “Where are the children?” Personal integrity and reflective teaching portfolios. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(6), 868-884. 2.Borko, H., Michalec, P., Timmons, M., & Siddle, J. (1997). Student teaching portfolios: A tool for promoting reflective practice. Journal of teacher education, 48(5), 345-357. 3.Brockbank, A. & McGill, I. (2007). Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education. London: McGraw Hill. 4.Henderson, K., Napan, K. & Monteiro, S. (2004). Encouraging reflective learning: An online challenge. In R. Atkinson, C. McBeath, D. Jonas- Dwyer & Philips (eds), Beyond the comfort zone: Proceedings of the 21st ASCILITE Conference (pp. 357-364). 5.Iucu, R. (2006). Managementul clasei de elevi. Aplicații pentru gestionarea situațiilor de criză educațională (ediția a II-a revăzută și adăugită), Polirom, Iași 6.Iucu, R. B., Marin, E. (2014). Authentic Learning in Adult Education. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 142, 410-415. 7.Klenowski, V. (2000) Portfolios: promoting teaching, Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 7(2), 215_237. 8.Lyons, N. (1998) With portfolio in hand: validating the new teacher professionalism (New York, Teacher College Press). 9.Marin, E. (2015). Experiential Learning: Empowering Students to Take Control of Their Learning by Engaging Them in an Interactive Course Simulation Environment. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 180, 854-859. 10.OECD. (1989). School and quality: an international report. Paris 11.Sultana, R. G. (2005). The initial education of high school teachers: A critical review of major issues and trends. Studying Teacher Education, 1(2), 225-243. 12.Van Woerkom, M. (2010). Critical Reflection as a Retionalistic Ideal. Adult Education Quarterly.60(4), 339-356.
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