10 SES 05 B, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
Although mentors are more likely to employ effective mentoring when prepared for the role, mentor preparation is rather underdeveloped and there is a need to know more about the impact of mentor programs (Hobson et al., 2008). Through this study we aim to deepen the understanding in this area, more specifically by examining if action research can serve as a way to empower mentors. Mentors, who are supposed to facilitate others' professional development, should be familiar with professional development from their own experience. Furthermore, the literature describes mentoring as different from teaching (Bullough, 2005; Jones, 2010). As a result, mentoring is something teachers need to be taught to perform in a professional way (Smith & Ulvik, 2010). The program examined in the current study aims to meet the needs for development and education by building on action research. The main research question is: How does action research function as a way to empower mentors in a mentor education program? We seek to learn more about how mentor students perceive action research and what they learn from it.
The concept action research is here understood as interplay between research on own practice and actual practice, a process that both impacts the actual practice and its theoretical understanding. It is a systematic investigation into own behavior (McNiff, 2002), where the researcher acts as object and subject for the study (Hopkins, 2008). Action research is a process in which the researcher, here the mentor, purposely searches for new answers and develops knowledge. Eraut (1994) describes this way of learning as the most advanced stage in professional development. The approach is based on the understanding that practitioners are capable of analyzing challenges and knowing where and how to look for solutions. They develop insights and knowledge which enable them to act autonomously and professionalize their work.
Action research has been used in teacher education in several countries as well as in induction programs to foster professional development and to empower beginning teachers (Ponte et al., 2004; Smith & Sela, 2005). In this study we seek to apply it to potentially enhance professional development among mentors.
The study was conducted in Norway at the University of Bergen (UoB) and investigates a mentor education program for teachers in upper secondary school. Since 2010, all new teachers in Norway are supposed to be offered mentoring, and to support this, the government has funded formal mentor education with academic credits. UoB offers two modules in their mentor education program, each with 15 ects. The first module consists of lectures, group work and practical exercises. The second module has a quite different structure and content, connected to action research, and includes a different group of participants. Less then half of the participants in module one move on to module two. Furthermore, some take a break between the two modules or attend the first module at other institutions. As a consequence we have chosen to study the modules separately and the current study focuses on the second module.
Bullough, R. V. (2005). Being and becoming a mentor: school-based teacher educators and teacher educator identity. Teaching and Teacher Education 21 :143–155. Hatch, A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. State University of New York Press. Hobson, A.J.; Ashby, P.; Malderez, A.; Tomlinson, P.D. (2008). Mentoring beginning teachers: What we know and what we don't. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25,207-216. Jones, M. (2010). The needs of mentors. In K. Smith & M. Ulvik, Veiledning av nye lærere. Nasjonale og internasjonale perspektiver. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. McNiff, J. (2002) Action research for professional development, downloaded 21.4.10 http://www.jeanmcniff.com/booklet1.html Ponte, P., Beijard, D & Ax J. (2004). Don’t wait till the cows come home: action research and initial teacher education in three different countries. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 10(6), 591 - 621. Smith, K. & Sela, O. (2005). Action Research as a bridge between pre-service teacher education and in-service professional development. The European Journal of Teacher Education, 28 (3), 293-311. Smith, K., & Ulvik, M. (2011). Mentoring Novice teachers – the Norwegian context. ISATT-conference; Porto, July. Ulvik, M.; & Sunde, E. (2011). The impact of mentor education. Does mentor education matter? European Conference on Educational Research; Berlin: Sept.
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