10 SES 08 A, Research in Teacher Education: Cultures and Methodologies
A new organization of school-based education (SBE, i.e. practicum) in Initial Teacher Education in Sweden has lead to changes on how practice should be structured in order to provide prerequisites for collaboration between ITE students. The aim of this study is to explore what ITE students and supervisors perceive as necessary preconditions in order to for peer learning to take place during SEB in this new organization where placing students in groups of three to six has been one of the arrangements used.
The research questions are here specified to learning within groups of students and are:
1. What are the pre-requisites and implications for peer-learning during practice in ITE?
3. What are the drivers and barriers for peer learning as a reciprocal phenomena?
ITE is similar to many other professions regarding apprenticeship. These learning communities are often defined as cultural practices that consist of practitioners belonging to the same area of work (Roth & Lee, 2006). What can be seen as a noticeable difference in comparison to regular apprenticeships, however, is the highlighting of peer learning where fellow ITE students are to attain prerequisites to evaluate and discuss shared lessons.
I am currently adapting the theory of peer learning as to what it encloses. Peer learning enfolds benefits of practicing interaction during teacher education where a supportive collaboration between equals creates opportunities to enhance student´s relational skills before entirely approaching the profession. The informal setting within teacher education allows students to improve their reflecting skills through trial and error (Martin & Double,1998). Studies show advantageous results concerning peer learning among student teachers such as empowering student teachers to become active learners in reciprocal teacher and observer situations (Driscoll, Parkes, Tilley-Lubbs, Brill & Pitts Bannister,2009; Zwart, Wubbels, Bergen, Bolhuis, 2009).
Evidence is also shown in research of student teachers, that they become more eager to absorb new ideas and raise issues with supervisors when collaborating with peers. Also, interview data illustrate that thorough preparation, explicit purposes and high expectations of peer learning are asked for, as well as expectations of how supervisors are to understand what dispositions that are required (Sorensen, 2014). Additionally, experiences allow students to bring upon knowledge from earlier peer coaching situations when later working alone in class and lead to student teachers enhancing their abilities to organize and manage class situations. This by adapting an increased flexibility and becoming less self-conscious in their working situations, opening up to ideas and plans from peers and also being more tolerant to criticism (Vacilotto & Cummings, 2007).
Student teachers who learn through organized contemplation on their experiences and reflections with peer students, initiate an establishment of their own professional knowledge (Korthagen, Loughranb & Russel, 2006). However, teacher educators, as well as supervisors, should be alert to the complexities of peer learning and should address student teachers in order to enhance their awareness of these facts (Boud, Cohen & Sampson, 2001; J. Grangeat & Gray, 2008; Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, Orphanos, 2009; ). Also, in order to enhance the effectiveness of peer coaching from supervisors, there also needs to be formal oversight and support as to address problems such as scheduling for peer learning, inequity between ITE students and the lack of skills to provide relevant feed back (Gardner, 2007; Hsiu-Lien, 2010, Riese, 2012; Scherer, 2012 ).
A similar picture is shown in the results of a first study encompassing student teachers, that more than half of the participants surfaced positive feelings at the idea of being several students and spoke of aspects such as being able to support each other and having someone to exchange and reflect ideas with.
I am currently adapting the tool which draws on general didactical questions like prerequisites for learning, who is learning from whom, in real life meetings or via IT, what is the object of learning – planning, to create a framework concerning peer learning issues. Creating learning communities for ITE students involved in collective work, is not in itself explicit to what drivers and barriers exist for peer learning to become a reciprocal phenomena. Therefore, a follow up study is being conducted encompassing participatory research with supervisors who accept teacher students during their education. Methods As a pilot study, it is conducted among ITE students in SBE education. One of the SBE coordinators for ITE students has been contacted and has forwarded e-mail addresses to 96 ITE students proceeding their third and final period of SBE education. 20 of these students are in the same Mid Sweden region as the first study with supervisors. A total of 10 ITE students that were willing to take part in the study, were interviewed. Data sources include transcript recordings were analyzed using content analysis with a specific focus on defining key themes around facilitating factors for peer learning. As a follow up study, participatory research is conducted with supervisors at local secondary schools and upper-secondary schools. Initially, one or several problems are identified regarding peer learning by the researcher and participants. These can concern organisational problems as well as what peer learning should entail. Thereafter, material is decided upon as well as what methods that are to be implemented as to adress the problems. As progress is shown upon, an evalutation is conducted as well as an identification of new problems as to create a development process. Here, a model that Cochlan & Brannick (2010) show upon, is used with multiple ”spiral of action research cycles – 1. Constructing, 2. Planning action, 3. Taking action, 4. Evaluating action (p.10). These usually have different time spans depending on progress in the group. Data sources include recordings that will be transcripted and analysed.
Expected outcomes Addressing the research questions, especially the first one (What are the pre-requisites and implications for peer learning during practice in ITE?), the conclusion of the study is that further organization is required. Teacher students are learning together, however, acknowledge a lack of organization concerning proved time to reflect together as not to have to consider loyalty issues when there is a shortage of staff for example. Findings from supervisors are preliminary and further analytical work is necessary. Concerning the second research question (What are the drivers and barriers for peer learning as a reciprocal phenomena?, drivers that arise from the ITE students are that the they can support each other and learn from each other and that they may dare to challenge difficult tasks easier and also feel more secure by being two teacher students together. Barriers that arise concern organization and prerequisites regarding provided time for reflective discussions. Findings from supervisors are preliminary and further analytical work is required.
References Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (2001). Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning from and with Each Other. New York: Kougan Page. Cochlan, D. & Brannick, T (2019). Doing Action Research in Your Own Organisation. California: Sage publications ltd. Cochran-Smith, M. (2011). Does Learning to Teach Ever End? Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(1), 22-24, Driscoll, L. G., Parkes, K. A., Tilley-Lubbs, G. A., Brill, J. M., & Pitts Bannister, V. R. (2009). Navigating the lonely sea: Peer mentoring and collaboration among aspiring women scholars. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 17, 5–21 Gardner, S. K. (2007). I heard it through the grapevine: Doctoral student socialization in chemistry and history. Higher Education, 54, 723–740. Grangeat, M. & Gray, P. (2008). Teaching as a collective work: analysis, current research and implications for teacher education. Journal of education for teaching, 34(3), 177-189. Hsiu-Lien, L. (2010). Research on peer coaching preservice teacher education – A review of literature. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 748-753. Korthagen, F. Loughranb, J & Russell, T. (2006). Developing fundamental principles for teacher education programs and practices. Teaching and Teacher Education 22, 1020–1041 Martin, G. & Double, J. (1998). Developing higher education skills through peer observation and collaborative reflection. Innovations in Education and Training International, 35(2), 161-170 Riese, H. (2012) Peer relations in peer learning. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25 (5), 601-624. Roth, W-M. & Lee, Y-J. (2006). Contradictions in theorizing and implementing communities in education. Educational Research Review, 1, (1), 27-40. Scherer, M. (2012) A conversation with Linda Darling-Hammond. The Challenges of Supporting new teachers. Educational Leadership, 69(8), 18-23. Zwart, R. Wubbels, T. Bergen, T. Bolhuis, S. (2009). Which Characteristics of a Reciprocal Peer Coaching Context Affect Teacher Learning? Journal of Teacher Education, 60(3), 243-257. Vacilotto, S., & Cummings, R. (2007). Peer Coaching in TEFL/TESL Programmes. ELT Journal, 61 (2),153-160. Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX. National Staff Development
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