22 SES 06 A, Paper Session
When University Colleges in Denmark recruit teachers, the first four years of employment will be as so-called ‘Assistant Lecturers’. During this period, they must qualify to become ‘Associate Lecturers’ (Ministry of Higher Education and Science, 2015; 2016). The process of qualification includes developing basic teaching competences and competences in Research and Development activities (R&D), which should include both didactical and professional issues.
This educational programme for new teachers is based on the assumption that participation in R&D may qualify teachers so that their lecturing will include the most relevant knowledge within their professional fields. However, not much research has been done so far into the possible connections between lecturers’ R&D experiences and their teaching practices. Neither in the organisational framework nor among lecturers has it been clear, how such connections should be understood and turned into practice. Therefore, in a recently completed project we have studied how this transformation process from a R&D-knowledge production site to an educational reproduction site is conceptualised and carried out by lecturers. The main research question in this project was:
How do lecturers transform knowledge from their R&D activities to their teaching practices?
In the project, we have chosen an educational sociological approach to analyse how knowledge transforms between contexts. The main theoretical inspiration comes from Bernstein, where the concept of recontextualisation is central for the understanding of knowledge transformation (Bernstein, 2000). We use his distinctions between the three contexts/fields in the “pedagogical device” as an analytical framework. For a less hierarchical conception of recontextualisation we also draw on other authors development of the concept, including Maton’s ideas concerning the pedagogical device (Maton, 2014; Guiles 2014; Singh 2002; March 2007.)
The recontextualisation concept is enacted to capture the processes by which knowledge is transformed from its production context to an educational context (Bernstein, 1996). R&D-practices are in this case production contexts for knowledge, which, according to Bernstein and Maton, have its own logic specific to the context. This logic should be seen as fundamentally different from the logic associated with educational contexts (Bernstein, 1974). Transferring knowledge from an R&D-context to a teaching practice therefore implies a recontextualisation, whereby `pedagogical discourse’ is constituted. The recontextualisation thus involves the processes by which teachers more or less explicitly translate their R&D knowledge and experience into teaching by changing classification and/or framing principles of the discourse (Bernstein, 2000).
In the process of deciding whether new knowledge should be implemented as new curricular elements, the question of `justification´ arises and should be dealt with. Here we draw on some basic distinctions and arguments concerning `social epistemologies´ and `powerful knowledge´ (Scott 2016; Yates & Millar 2016). Furthermore we also explore the connections between recontextualisation and various knowledge forms in education: The inspiration here comes from conceptual developments by Maton and Shay, who distinguishes between four modalities of knowledge based on theories of semantics (Maton, 2011). Since professional knowledge is a very complex matter another question emerge, whether our applied theories and concepts leaves out tacit knowledge forms, as they are difficult to articulate. We discuss this issue with inspiration from Grimen, who argue for professional knowledge as practical syntheses (Grimen 2010).
The research project started in January 2019 and it is now in the disemmination phase. The project has been carried out as a qualitative study based on documentary analyses, interviews and observations (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009; Kristiansen & Krogstrup, 2015). The document research was completed first. Here four different ways of organising assistant lecturer programmes were scrutinised concerning the relation between R&D and teaching. This analysis was carried out through a collection of both policy and institutional documents with descriptions of procedures and practices for assistant lecturers. To supplement this desk research, interviews were carried out with coordinators of assistant lecturer programmes. Along with the document research, a state-of-the-art analysis was carried out focusing on the transformation processes between knowledge-producing and knowledge-reproducing fields. This included both theoretical and empirical reviews and studies within different areas of sociologies, especially about the relationship between knowledge and education. This resulted in combining the above mentioned theories and concepts, (Scott 2014 Young, Guile 2014 Maton, 2014). Based on the previous analysis 12 lecturers were selected as informants, each representing a case from different professional programmes or from further education. The majority of the informants were in their Assistant Lecturer period taking part in the qualification programme. A few had recently graduated as long term employed lecturers. A variation between cases was ensured by selecting lecturers, which seemed to have participated in a variety of different types of R&D activities. A semi-structured, in-depth interview with each selected informant was carried out. Interviews were transcribed and the data was analysed. Later on, three selected pedagogical practices were observed to capture how lecturers R&D competences influences their teaching and learning activities. After the 12 interviews were completed, data was inductively analysed to show various approaches to, and forms of transformation to educational contexts. By means of Weber’s theories of Ideal Types (Weber 1994) three lecture profiles were constructed on basis of the 12 interviews. Those lecture profiles reflects the most significant transformation processes between R&D and teaching.
The policy-framework for assistant lecturer qualification establish a large space for R&D activities. As a result, R&D knowledge is weakly classified in relation to educational knowledge. At the institutional level, frames are also relatively open. There are no common systematic at the institution for Assistant Lecturers R&D-work. Consequently, pathways by which Assistant Lecturers navigate through the landscape of R&D, are multiple, informal and often individual. Therefore, it is largely arbitrary which Assistant Lecturers get involved in which R&D-tasks. Factors, which influences lecturers’ transformation of R&D-tasks to teaching practice, depends on: • The content of R&D-work (professional or educational/didactical development or mixed) • The quantitative distribution of workload between R&D and teaching • Self-understanding/professional identity (what kind of teacher or researcher am I?) From all variations that the 12 informants exhibited, we constructed three ideal types of teachers: The “profession-oriented teacher”, the “didactic-oriented teacher” and the “research-oriented teacher”. These types form a spectrum in which all 12 teachers can be placed, each closest to the ideal type with which the teacher in question shares most features. The profession-oriented teacher is typically doing R&D for getting closer to professional practice. R&D-knowledge is considered as a practical base to draw upon in teaching, often intuitively. Not very often, the knowledge is transferred to becoming curricular elements or courses. Reflexions about the recontextualisation processes are here limited. “Didactic-oriented teachers” may do both professional and didactical research, but they are explicit about differences between the fields and about recontextualisation processes. Most “researcher-oriented teachers” express complex ideas of how knowledge should circulate between the fields, even though some of them do not teach very much or do not have the opportunity realize their ideas. Lastly, the presentation will discuss knowledge transformation and teacher qualifications in higher educations including differences between universities and university colleges.
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