10 SES 07 B, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
We present a project developed at the University of Cantabria (Spain) which aims to analyse a training experience for teachers in infant and primary education. The objective was to use a collaborative approach to produce a critical dictionary of the concepts that the students identify as central to the subjects involved. It is, therefore, a project that confront students with the epistemological complexity that is inherent in the topics that they usually study and allows them to recognise the variety of perspectives that can coexist in relation to the same phenomenon/concept.
In the project entitled “Innovation in teacher training: Production of an Interactive and Collaborative Dictionary as an open resource” the students initiate a process of enquiry into those concepts that they consider relevant through the voices of diverse and non-normative informants (for example: families, children, teachers).
To achieve this, a wide range of participatory research strategies are used that provide access to the informants’ meanings. Finally, the “new definition” materialises in the form of a digital object that synthesises the findings, giving shape to the collaborative dictionary. This proposal is based, first, on the critical perspective of “students as partners” (Cook-Sather, Matthews, Ntem & Leathwick, 2018) which “imagines and makes way for respectful, mutually beneficial learning partnerships where students and staff work together on all aspects of educational endeavours” (Matthews, 2017, p.1). This implies a change in the educational culture, moving away from the current prevalence of disciplinary epistemologies and the pedagogy of efficiency (Pineau, 2013), towards the development of learning experiences where the students have a more important role (Fielding, 2012). These opportunities for collaboration are defined as spaces of shared power where continuous dialogue and reflection prevail (Kehler, Verwoord and Smith, 2017; Matthews, 2017). This change supposes redefining the traditional role of the students such that they are given the opportunity to contribute to the curricular and pedagogical aspects of their training (Cook-Sather, Bovill and Felten, 2014). In this sense, the aim is to eliminate the usual hierarchy of relationships and power differences in the training processes by establishing mutuality, reciprocity and complementarity as central principles (Hermsen, Kuiper, Roelofs, & van Wijchen, 2017).
At the same time, we consider dictionaries to be socially constructed that harbour a specific (and necessarily partial) view of reality, which orders and configures it. Naming a reality supposes adopting a symbolic field from among the available options, because a definition constitutes a story, a way of accessing reality that forgets and silences other alternative views (Brailovsk, 2017; Van Manen, McClelland, & Plihal, 2007). However, the same term may have semantic variations depending on the actors it serves, as seen in the feminist epistemologies or the epistemologies of the South (Harding, 1993). Some authors have demonstrated the existence of concepts that are used under diverse and even contradictory perspectives (Fielding, 2004; Healey, Flint & Harrington, 2014). This situation is accentuated when they are used by people in different geographical, linguistic and cultural contexts (Healey & Healey, 2018). For this reason, we attempt to show the complex and sometimes conflicting nature of these processes of denominating social phenomena.
- What are the terms that have been chosen by the students? What justifies this choice according to their own opinions? Based on which non-normative voices have these concepts been constructed? What alternative definitions appear?
- What are the participatory research strategies used? To what extent have they allowed the voices of the informants to be heard?
- What resulting digital objects do the students produce with the definitions obtained? What difficulties and aids have been found during the process and what decisions have been taken?
The research and training proposal follows a participatory methodology based on the critical perspective of “students as partners” (Cook-Sather, Matthews, Ntem & Leathwick, 2018) and is divided into four phases: 1. The training iniciative begins with an initial deliberation based on the question: “What are the pedagogical issues that concern you in relation to this subject?” First, this is addressed individually through Moodle, and this is followed by a collaborative deliberation in the classroom in order to expand on and select non-current concepts and informants. The strategies of enquiry that they will employ will also be defined: semi-structured interviews, walking methods, photovoice, questionnaires, etc. 2. The second phase involves the construction of the terms for the Dictionary. The work groups (4-5 people) organise the information collection process. Following this, the students analyse and organise the information in order to construct the digital object: a written document that reflects the mode of access to the term (perspective and research techniques used), the informants who have participated (authorship) and a succinct definition of the term. In addition, the resulting products can be expressed in different languages, such as writing, sound, visual or audiovisual materials (e.g. infographic, visual map, interactive video or animations). The dictionary will be shared on the Internet, where a platform will be established for the inter-classroom dialogue on the constructed terms. 3. Finally, to analyse and evaluate the training proposal, we use an evaluation case study methodology (Simons, 2009) and qualitative research techniques (Denzin and Lincoln, 2017). The techniques of information production are: participant observations of the different work sessions and the field notes (Flick, 2017); analysis of documents – more specifically, the different partial and final products prepared by the students for each concept; an online questionnaire with open questions and discussion groups (Kamberelis, Dimitriodis & Welker, 2017) with the students; and semi-structured interviews with the teachers who have directed the activity (Kvale, 2011). The results presented here correspond to the training experience implemented in two compulsory subjects of the teaching degree (Tutorial Action and Didactic and Organisational Contexts), in the three practicum, and in the different Final Degree Projects.
The variety and number of terms initially proposed stands out, contrasting with a fairly conventional final choice (for example, school management, spaces, teacher coordination...). The issues relating to the classroom predominate while those related to school organisation are scarce. Regarding the informants, the choice of the voice of the students and teachers as opposed to other groups stands out. We discuss the relevance of taking this constellation of terms as clues to understanding their semantic world about the school and teaching. We can see the possibilities that the collective deliberative processes offer to look at the terms in more depth and draw attention to new non-convential voices that were initially taken into account. The students employed a wide range of participatory research strategies (e.g. photovoice, walking methods, semi-structured interviews, focus groups).This process must be analysed in depth to establish its potential to mobilise other forms of access and knowledge production. The different digital objects produced(infographics, interactive videos or animations) are also analysed as forms of expression that the students have chosen, including the reluctance of some groups to use technological media for the object, as an expression of protest or a response to the saturation of training with ICT. We also reflect on the conditioning factors that influenced the project: how the final evaluation conditions the decision-making of the students; the difficulties associated with the use of technological solutions to which we are not accustomed; the culture of free access that permeates the project is not reflected in some of the decisions made by the students in the construction of the object. We conclude by assessing the potential for this project to be replicated, expanded and refuted by groups of students from other courses. The material generated represents good subject matter for analysis and a source of debate with colleagues.
Brailovsk, D. (2017). La pedagogía y su vocabulario. Voces de la Educación, 2 (1), 52-62 Cook-Sather,A., Bovill,C., & Felten,P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching : a guide for faculty. John Wiley & Sons. Cook-Sather, A., Matthews, K. E., Ntem, A., & Leathwick, S. (2018). What We Talk About When We Talk About Students as Partners. International Journal for Students as Partners, 2(2). Denzin, N., & Lincoln, I. (2017). The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (5 edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Fielding, M. (2004). Transformative approaches to student voice: theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities. British Educational Research Journal, 30(2), 295-311. Fielding, M. (2012). Beyond Student Voice: Patterns of Partnership and the Demands of Deep Democracy Revista de Educación, 359, 45-65. Flick, U. (2017). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Data Collection. Londres: SAGE. Harding, S. (1993), “Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What is ‘Strong Objectivity”?”, in L. Alcoff and E. Potter (eds.), Feminist Epistemologies (New York: Routledge), 49-82. Healey, M., & Healey, R. (2018). «It depends»: Exploring the context-dependent nature of students as partners practices and policies. International Journal for Students as Partners, 2(1), 1-10. Healey, M., Flint, A., & Harrington, K. (2014). Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy Hermsen, T., Kuiper, T., Roelofs, F., & Van Wijchen, J. (2017). Without Emotions, Never a Partnership! International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(2), 1-5. Kamberelis, G., Dimitriadis, G. y Welker, A. (2017). Focus Group Research and/in Figured Worlds. En N. K. Denzin y Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (pp. 692-716). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Kehler, A., Verwood, R., & Smith, H. (2017). We are the Process: Reflections on the Underestimation of Power in Students as Partners in Practice. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1). Kvale, S. (2011). Las entrevistas en investigación cualitativa. Madrid: Morata. Matthews, K.E. (2017). Five Propositions for Genuine Students as Partners Practice. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(2), 1-9. Pineau, G. (2013). Enseñar como si no cayese del cielo: epistemología de la transdisciplinariedad, la posibilidad de que los estudiantes universitarios de hoy construyan conocimiento en las aulas. Madrid: Depósito digital UAM. Simons, H. (2009). Case Study Research in Practice. London: SAGE. Van Manen, M., McClelland, J., & Plihal, J. (2007). Naming Student Experiences and Experiencing Student Naming. En International Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School. (pp. 85-98). NY: Springer.
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