01 SES 02 A, Developing Professional Identity
Parallel Paper Session
The aim of the research reported here was to examine how secondary school departments in England operate as sites for teacher learning of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). We focus upon PCK because teaching as a subject specialist depends critically upon its development (Shulman 1986). We focus upon school subject departments as sites for learning for two reasons. The first is a conviction that that such knowledge is essentially constructed in practice, through engagement in the inventive processes of planning and teaching (Hashweh 2005). The second reflects the findings of the influential McKinsey report into the world’s best performing school systems (Barber and Moorshed, 2007). Such systems, its authors argue (citing Finland and Japan in particular), have found ways to ‘enable teachers to learn from each other’. Given the practical difficulties in many contexts of bringing teachers together out of school for professional development activities, and what is known about the value of collaborative planning and joint reflection on instruction, it is important for school systems everywhere to find ways of promoting learning within those contexts in which secondary teachers undertake the majority of their planning and evaluation – their subject departments.
Socio-cultural understandings of learning (Daniels et al., 2007; Edwards 2005) which emphasise what Vygotsky terms ‘the social situation of development' (SSD), recognise that individual learners both internalise what is valued in a SSD and, in turn, act on the SSD to shape it. Here we take school subject departments as the SSD, examining them as learning environments for teachers, exploring how expertise is recognised, drawn upon and developed in tackling the problems of practice. Adopting a socio-cultural perspective which thus respects both the social and the individual, and the complex inter-relationships between them (Hodkinson, Biesta and James 2008), the study is based on sustained observation of teachers’ interactions with each other and the material resources (such as textbooks and schemes of work) in which much of their knowledge is embedded.
The study addresses three specific research questions:
Within secondary school subject departments
1. How are teachers positioned as learners?
2. What is the range and origin of resources drawn upon for learning?
3. In what ways do different departmental members draw on these resources?
Barber, M & Moorshed, M. (2007) How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. London: McKinsey & Company. Daniels, H., Leadbetter, J., Soares, A., & McNab, N. (2007) Learning in and for cross-school working Oxford Review of Education, 33 (2), 125-142. Edwards, A. (2005) Let’s get beyond community and practice: the many meanings of learning by participating, The Curriculum Journal, 16 (1), 53-69. Engeström, Y. & Kerosuo, H. (2007) From workplace learning to inter-organizational learning and back: the contribution of activity theory, Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 19 Iss: 6, pp.336 – 342. Hashweh, M.Z. (2005) Teacher pedagogical constructions: a reconfiguration of pedagogical content knowledge. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice 11(3), 273-292. Hodkinson, P., Biesta, G. & James, D. (2008), ‘Understanding Learning Culturally: Overcoming the Dualism between Social and Individual Views and Learning’ Vocations and Learning 1: 1 27-47. Hodkinson, H. & Hodkinson, P. (2005) Improving school teachers’ workplace learning, Research Papers in Education, 20 (2), 109-131. Lee, E. & Luft, J.A. (2008) Experienced secondary science teachers’ representation of pedagogical content knowledge, International Journal of Science Education, 30(10), 1343-1363. Shulman, L. (1986) Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14.
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