22 SES 14 B, Paper Session
School development as a topic may be particularly traced in Teacher Education and School Leader Education in higher education programs. While the topic of school development is related to core teacher competencies, and therefore might be traced as a subject in educational programs for teachers and school leaders, bachelor and master programs in Pedagogy point to educational development and organizational development work more generally. In this paper, we identify how school development and educational development work come forth in these programs and we explore how national and local curriculum and plans in three selected higher education institutions formulate the topic of development work as an issue of teaching and learning. The purpose of the paper is to examine how school development as a key topic appears in higher education, and to examine curriculum, local plans and knowledge resources that are offered. The research questions we explore are: How is school development and educational development work presented in national and local curriculum in Teacher Education, School Leader Education and studies in Pedagogy in higher education in Norway? What kind of knowledge resources do these programs offer, and how is the curriculum designed to fit the learning outcome descriptions? To what extent do the programs design for relevant practical experience with development work within the framework of the curriculum?
In the paper we describe findings in documents on the websites of these institutions, and examine how school development and related concepts are operationalized in course plans, syllabus and textbooks
Quality in teacher education is characterized by a clear vision of good teaching, a good connection between theory and practice and a practice that provides an opportunity to test and evaluate teaching (Hammernes & Klette, 2015). According to Policy documents on teacher education (Ministry of Education and Research 2016, 2017), it is important to clarify what the role of a teacher educator entails, and to be aware of the responsibility that lies in this role. The guidelines emphasizes that the quality of education will be crucial to meet the requirement for future competence that teachers and school leaders need to take on the responsibility of leading development processes in their classrooms and schools (Ministry of Education and Research, 2016).
Policy documents in Norway (Ministry of Education and Research, 2017, p. 17) emphasizes that the quality of Norwegian teacher education depends to a large extent in the ways teachers and institutional leaders collaborate. These professional environments requires leadership and organization of teachers work and learning processes (Bjørnsrud, 2009.) In our research, we will examine how this emerges in course plans and curriculum. School development is often used normatively as an innovation concept, where the intention is that development work will lead to a better school for pupils (Dalin,1986; Mausethagen & Helstad, 2019). A central goal in teacher education and education in pedagogy is that the programs must equip students in their professional identity as future educators implying that students must understand and contribute to both the internal and external processes that influence the development of the school. This complexity of development processes makes it clear that continuous development may require a form of agreement between the actors within and between the organizations, which in turn is a reason why more researchers are directing their interest towards the development of professional learning communities. Huffman et al. (2016) and Stoll & Louis (2007) claim that it is a challenge to establish such communities in higher education. Universities and colleges are large organizations often characterized by self-governing departments with a weak tradition of collaboration and a strong degree of autonomy among teachers.
The research project has a qualitative research design which is suitable when we collect data about the context in which actions and opinions are developed (Wadel, 1991). Qualitative methods are mainly based on theories of human experience and interpretation. We have therefore chosen a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach (Kvale, 2001). The data is descriptive and based on interviews with key actors, such as study program leaders and course coordinators, together with document analysis and literature analysis of core curriculum both nationally and locally. Through document analysis and interviews with stakeholders, we seek to trace how the topic of school development is understood and operationalized. Additionally, we seek to uncover aspects of the culture of collaboration within the educational institutions that may have an impact on how local plans and teaching in the programs is carried out. In a document analysis there will be specific criteria and we have chosen to use the 6 steps from Solvang & Holme (1996): (1) Document description (clarification of the function of the document and in which environment or situation the document was created), (2) What does the document say? (Content description and interpretation), (3) Trends and attitudes in the document (political, religious and ethnic aspects), (4) The usefulness of the document (relevance to the problem in the thesis and its credibility), (5) The document assessed against other source material (first- or second-hand source, what do other sources say?), (6) Conclusion (Can the document be used? Why / why not?). The paper will analyze the curriculum used in the current programs. In our context, this involves analysis of textbooks through a traditional hermeneutic understanding using 3 stages for the work with texts: understanding, interpretation and application (Føllesdal, Walløe and Elster, 1996). This means that we achieve the author's intention or what the text expresses to the recipients it is intended for, the way the text is expressed (critical, positive, reasoning, argumentative, narrative), and to provide insight and understanding of the situation or context where the actual texts are embedded.
Pedagogy or educational studies - both as a discipline and as a subject in teacher education - is traditionally perceived to be prescriptive to a small extent, but more concerned that the student should promote self-reflexivity and critical thinking in relation to their respective mandates. Yet the education system is a so-called open system (Biesta, 2010) and there is a strong focus from the authority level on improving schools. Focus on school development and on teachers professional learning communites will be a strong contributor on improving schools. Education policy play a significant role in Norwegian and international policymaking, and the growing importance of education for societal development will in turn be able to influence the contribution of teacher education in the development of professional learning communities (Hovdenak 2014). Evidence-based programs are widely offered as part of a national strategy for development work and competence development in schools (Kvernbekk, 2018). We expect to find that there is a focus on development processes in the mentioned study programs, but that the approach is largely normative. We assume we will find that the programs only to a small extent discuss views of knowledge and research approaches linked to school development and development work as topics in the programs.
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