01 SES 14 A, Policy, Politics and Practice: The ‘Fast Policy’ of Initial and Continuing Teacher Education
In this paper, we draw upon two new empirical studies of initial teacher education (ITE) (Bendtsen, Eklund, Forsman, Pörn, under review; Jakhelln, Eklund, Aspfors, Bjørndal & Stølen, under review) – one Finnish and one Norwegian – to explore the challenges of integrating theory and practice in more research-based approaches to teacher education. Such approaches provide an alternative to more ‘fast policy’ approaches but also reveal a need for further inquiry into these alternatives. Finnish ITE has attracted much interest due to the Finnish students’ success in PISA and other surveys. The aim of the Finnish research-based approach is to qualify reflective, autonomous, responsible and professional teachers who can base their teaching on research principles, and successfully use these principles to address practical challenges in the profession (Krokfors et al., 2011; Tirri, 2014). The Finnish study explores student-teachers’ experiences of action research (AR)-based projects (e.g. Masters’ thesis) within ITE, revealing both constraints and affordances. The results show that AR-based projects enabled student-teachers to develop critical and analytical thinking by combining their own thoughts and experiences with scientific literature. The analysis of the different teaching situations developed their professional teaching skills. The results also reveal an ambivalence, whereby student-teachers expressed a great need of scaffolds, even as they appreciated room and opportunities for agency. In this area of tension, we argue the AR-based projects can be seen as a tool for student teachers’ professional development. Norwegian teacher education has also undergone a series of reforms over the last decades, changing from an experience-based education at Bachelor’s level to a Master’s education with a stronger focus on research and practice development. The Master’s projects serve as vehicles to bolster practice-based teacher capacity for better student results. The changes can be seen as a paradigm shift, inspired by the Finnish approach. The Norwegian case draws upon insights from 24 newly qualified Norwegian teachers, who graduated from a pilot study in ITE, about how they understood research-based teacher education practices. The results also reveal ambivalence about the programme. On one hand, participants saw their R&D based knowledge as meaningful for their work as teachers in schools. However, the Norwegian NQTs also questioned the possibilities for teachers’ to draw on this knowledge in future work. Even as these research-based approaches to ITE flag the possibilities of alternatives to more ‘fast policy’ approaches, perceptions of ambivalence amongst student-teachers require deeper analyses and discussion.
Bendtsen, M., Eklund, G., Forsman, L., Pörn M. (submitted). Student teachers’ experiences of action research-based projects: Two cases within initial teacher education in Finland. Submitted to Education Inquiry. Jakhelln, R., Eklund, G., Aspfors, J., Bjørndal, K.E., & Stølen, G. (submitted). Newly qualified teachers’ understandings of research-based teacher education practices: Two cases from Finland and Norway. Submitted to Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research. Krokfors, L., Kynäslahti, H., Stenberg, K., Toom, A., Maaranen, K., Jyrhämä, R., Byman, R. & Kansanen, P. (2011). Investigating Finnish Teacher Educators’ Views on Research-based Teacher Education. Teaching Education, 22(1), 1–13. Tirri, K. (2014). The Last 40 Years in Teacher Education. Journal of Education for Teaching, 40(5), 600–609.
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