ERG SES E 07, Social Justice and Education
Interrelating theory and practice is a central challenge for teacher education. Missing links between theory and practice are discussed to cause on the one side ‘passiv’ or ‘inert’ knowledge, which is not connected to practice in any way, and on the other side ‘blind’ routine, meaning unquestioned practices of teachers (Neuweg, 2011).
Teachers’ competences to interrelate theory and practice are of vital importance for successful teaching and school development – especially in times of ongoing changes in teachers’ tasks and increasing challenges for schools: Recent theoretical knowledge as provided in university studies should actually affect development in schools and in teaching. And future teachers need to be prepared for lifelong learning, so that they can and are willing to interrelate critical reflecting on coming changes in everyday teaching realities and coming theoretical knowledge.
Within the frame of Germany’s two-phased teacher education, internships at schools during the first phase of education at university are perceived as major means for students to learn by interrelating theory and practice. However, it is common, that students complain about difficulties in trying to interrelate theory and practice. They argue that covered theoretical knowledge would be too abstract and unrelatable to their experiences and perceived needs during internships, and therefor of little use. Empirical studies also clearly indicate that students tend to not interrelate theory and practice in the context of internships but rather blend out theoretical knowledge in school situations (Hascher, 2012). Additionally theoretical models on how theory and practice in teacher education can be interrelated are highly divers. The divergences are based on different assumptions on how different forms of knowledge (such as theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge) interrelate with each other and how these forms of knowledge are acquired or emerge (Neuweg, 2014).
The present study, developed within the context of the project “ProfaLe” at the University of Hamburg, seeks to gain deeper insight into preconditions for students’ acting in internships and interrelating of theory and practise in that context. Therefor students’ knowledge about acting in internships as well as acquiring of and dealing with knowledge in that context shall be analysed.
There are already studies available that analyse, what students said or wrote about their acting in internships and their acquiring of and dealing with knowledge in that context. Analysis were mainly conducted focusing on the content of what the students explicitly said or wrote. However, following discussions in reconstructive social science and research on teacher profession, it is reasonable to assume, that students’ acting in internships is not only based on explicit but also on implicit knowledge. Implicit knowledge can be elicited by reconstructive methods – but so far only few results of such studies in the field of interest are available (e. g. Košinár, Schmid and Diebold, 2016; Herzmann, Artmann and Wichelmann, 2017).
The present study addresses that research gap and aims at a reconstruction of implicit knowledge that “underlies” the students’ actions in or in the context of internships (Bohnsack, 2010, p. 20).
The reconstructive analysis is guided by a first broad research question:
- What implicit knowledge of students on acting in internships and acquiring and dealing with knowledge in that context can be reconstructed?
A second following research question is:
- What are the meaning and importance of different forms of knowledge originated in theory and practice within the reconstructions?
The findings of the study shall contribute towards an improvement of higher educational offers that adaptively support students’ learning in internship. As the present study addresses a general challenge in teacher education, results and implications should be meaningful and discussable on an international level.
The purpose of the study is to extend the state of research about student teachers’ knowledge concerning interrelating theory and practice in the context of internships. Therefor a qualitative study design has been chosen aiming at reconstructing implicit knowledge. 16 students were interviewed after taking part in an internship during their master studies. The episodic interviews (Flick, 2010) lasted between one and two hours and the students were predominantly asked to narrate parts of their experience during the internship. The interviews were transcribed and interpreted following the principles of the Documentary Method (Bohnsack, 2010) and its application on interviews (Nohl, 2010). The Documentary Method focusses on reconstructing implicit knowledge embedded in practical experience, which guides actions of the students, but usually is not directly explicable. To reconstruct the implicit knowledge, the analysis of what is said by the students, the explicit content, is distinguished from a second analysis on how and in which ‘frames of orientation’ (Bohnsack, 2010, p. 104) students said things. Using inner- and cross-case comparisons the Documentary Method finally aims at constructing typologies.
Evaluation of the study is still in progress. Nevertheless, preliminary findings provide first answers to the research questions and offer starting points to discuss implications for teacher education. The analysis of the data points out differences among the students’ implicit knowledge concerning acting in internships in general as well as acquiring and dealing with knowledge in the context of the internship in particular. Theoretical knowledge occurs to gain different meaning and importance within the reconstructions of implicit knowledge in different cases. In some cases theoretical knowledge seems to possibly be relevant for students’ actions within the context of internships in several ways. Whereas in other cases the possible relevance of theoretical knowledge appears as very limited: Reconstructions suggest actions of these students to be oriented on ‘security’, on securing one’s ability to deal with perceived challenges. Against that background simply applicable knowledge, that occurs to ensure to avoid mistakes in future acting as a teacher, becomes highly relevant for those students. Theoretical knowledge only seems the gain relevance, when it is being presented in form of recipe-like rules for the acting of teachers. Such orientation on ‘security’ seems to be important for explaining differences in students’ interrelating of theory and practice in the context of internships. Teacher education needs to find ways to adaptively support professionalisation for students with different preconditions in internship contexts. One discussable option could be to reduce complexity in demands, that teacher students are faced with in internships. The study’s findings are expected to be further advanced by September, so additional findings will be presented as well.
Bohnsack, R. (2010). Documentary Method and Group Discussions. In R. Bohnsack, N. Pfaff & W. Weller (Eds.), Qualitative Analysis and Documentary Method in International Educational Research. Opladen: Barbara Budrich, p. 99–124. Flick, U. (2010). Qualitative Sozialforschung. Eine Einführung. Reinbek b. Hamburg: Rowohlt. Hascher, T. (2012). Lernfeld Praktikum. Evidenzbasierte Entwicklungen in der Lehrer/innenbildung. Zeitschrift für Bildungsforschung, 2 (2), p. 109-129. Herzmann, P., Artmann, M. & Wichelmann, E. (2017). Theoriegeleitete Reflexionen videographierten Unterrichts. Eine Typologie studentischer Perspektiven auf universitäre Theorie-Praxis-Bezüge. In C. Berndt, T. Häcker & T. Leonhard (Eds.), Reflexive Lehrerbildung revisited. Traditionen – Zugänge – Perspektiven. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt, p. 176-189. Košinár, J., Schmid, E. & Diebold, N. (2016). Anforderungswahrnehmung und -bearbeitung in den berufspraktischen Studien. Rekonstruktion typisierter Relationen von Orientierungen Studierender. In J. Košinár, S. Leineweber & E. Schmid (Eds.), Professionalisierungsprozesse angehender Lehrpersonen in den berufspraktischen Studien. Schriftenreihe der IGSP, Band 1. Münster: Waxmann, p. 139-154. Neuweg, G. H. (2011). Distanz und Einlassung. Skeptische Anmerkungen zum Ideal einer „Theorie-Praxis-Integration“ in der Lehrerbildung. Erziehungswissenschaft, 23 (43), p. 33-45. Neuweg, G. H. (2014). Das Wissen der Wissensvermittler. Problemstellungen, Befunde und Perspektiven der Forschung zum Lehrerwissen. In E. Terhart, H. Bennewitz & M. Rothland (Eds.), Handbuch der Forschung zum Lehrerberuf. 2., überarb. und erw. Aufl. Münster, New York: Waxmann, p. 583-614. Nohl, A. (2010). The Documentary Interpretation of Narrative Interviews. In R. Bohnsack, N. Pfaff & W. Weller (Eds.), Qualitative Analysis and Documentary Method in International Educational Research. Opladen: Barbara Budrich, p. 195–217.
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