Research in Teacher Education - Volume 6 No 1 May 2016
We begin this issue with an article from Jenny Robson in which she analyses the status of children's rights in the standards for Early Years Teachers (EYTs) introduced in 2013 in England. Informed by the findings from research in sites of early years practice, she suggests possibilities for a critical dialogue that repositions the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as a visible and explicit framework of reference for EYTs' work with young children. In his article, Graham Robertson reflects upon the educational writings and teaching experiences of the 19th-Century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. Some may wonder at the relevance of Leo Tolstoy's experience of teaching and his thoughts on education for today's 'modern age'. And yet the author argues that Tolstoy's writings on education have much to contribute to our present-day understanding of the learning process and cover such issues as, 'learner autonomy', 'motivation', 'relationship' and 'student voice'.
In England, inclusion has once again become a much-discussed topic following the publication of the 2015 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice. There have been successes and improvements in inclusion since the Warnock Committee first published its findings on special educational needs in 1978, but many argue that these improvements are not enough. In her article, Lara Conner examines the impact of two of the most important documents in the history of SEND, the 1978 Warnock Report and the 1994 Salamanca Statement. Lara examines the concept of inclusion in England - how it is defined by a variety of perspectives, and how the reality of inclusion differs from the ideal. Ruksana Mohammed examines the concept of critical incident analysis through a teaching situation, with the aim of improving the teaching practice of students on teacher education programmes. The author concludes that although critical incident analysis is a useful tool in navigating teaching practices, often challenges need to be addressed at much broader levels than the teaching context itself.
In Research in Teacher Education we welcome writers to submit from other countries and in this edition, İsa Deveci's Finnish study used a phenomenological research design to determine the difficulties faced in her science-based entrepreneur project development process for pre-service science teachers. Her qualitative data were obtained through interviews conducted with ten pre-service science teachers. The results indicated that pre-service science teachers have difficulty translating into practice the concepts of 'entrepreneurship' and 'economy' because they have little or no experience of the education processes related to entrepreneurship. Rose White and Fran Paffard, in their article, summarise the explorations of two Initial Teacher Education (ITE) lecturers looking particularly at Muslim families' sense of belonging as they encounter the British education system. In a world where xenophobia currently fuels rigid and stereotypical views of cultures in general and Muslim cultures in particular, it is important that the complexity of families' identities and relationships to the existing systems is seen, heard and appreciated. Their study draws on Garcia’s (2009, Alstad, 2013) view of monoglossic and heteroglossic settings, and on Cremin's (2015) proposition of the super-diversity of inner-city experiences. Their preliminary findings suggest that existing paradigms for discussing identity fail to capture increasingly complex and super-diverse realities.
Our guest writer is Professor Simone White, Chair of Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, Australia, and currently the President of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA). Simone's research, teaching and engagement are focused on the key question of how to best prepare teachers and leaders for diverse communities. Her current research areas focus on teacher education research and policy; teacher educators and professional experience; and building and sustaining university–school/community partnerships. In her article she examines policy–research tensions and the critique of teacher education researchers and then outlines some of the key findings from an Australian policy-maker study. Recommendations are offered as a way for teacher education researchers to begin to mobilise a new set of generative strategies to draw from. This number's book reviews are provided by Gurmit Uppal, Warren Kidd and Rebecca Bannocks.
As always we hope that you enjoy the collection of articles in this issue of the periodical.
Gerry Czerniawski (2016) 'Editorial' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1).
Early Years Teachers and Young Children’s Rights: The Need For Critical Dialogue
The absence of knowledge about children's rights is frequently associated with ineffective implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); this directly impacts on children's lives and the ways they are viewed by adults (Freeman 1998; Pugh 2015). Recent research (Jerome et al. 2015) has highlighted the lack of focus on children's rights in the initial training of teachers and other education practitioners. In this paper I analyse the status of children's rights in the standards for Early Years Teachers (EYTs) introduced in 2013 in England. Informed by the findings from research in sites of early years practice, I suggest possibilities for a critical dialogue that repositions the UNCRC as a visible and explicit framework of reference for EYTs' work with young children.
Keywords: children's rights, early years practitioners, professionalism.
Jenny Robson (2016) 'Early Years Teachers and young children’s rights: the need for critical dialogue' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 6-11.
Alternative Approaches to Education: Tolstoy’s Thinking on Teaching and Learning and its Relevance for Today
In this article, I reflect upon the educational writings and teaching experiences of the 19th-Century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy is known to have attached much importance to his own writing on education, even more than to the literary creations for which he is best remembered. His writings on education have much to contribute to our present-day understanding of the learning process and cover such issues as, 'learner autonomy', 'motivation', 'relationship' and 'student voice'. Tolstoy's teaching experience was with multi ethnic peasant children in his schools in Yasnaya Polyana. I intend to illustrate that the themes and issues that arose from his experiences in the 1860s can still find resonance with students and teachers in the twenty-first century.
Keywords: Leo Tolstoy; Alternative Education; free schools; student voice; learner autonomy; relationships.
Graham Robertson (2016) 'Alternative approaches to education: Tolstoy's thinking on teaching and learning and its relevance for today' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6 (No.1). 12-17.
Reflections on Inclusion: How Far Have We Come Since Warnock and Salamanca?
In England, inclusion has once again become a much discussed topic following the publication of the 2015 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice. There have been successes and improvements in inclusion since the Warnock Committee first published its findings on special educational needs in 1978, but many argue that these improvements are not enough. When the state of inclusion today is compared to the ideals advocated by both the Warnock Report and the Salamanca Statement it is clear that the education system has fallen short of the expectations outlined in these documents. There have been efforts to reduce the level of segregation between special schools and mainstream schools such as the establishment of resourced provisions, but these settings often have their own difficulties when considering inclusion.
Keywords: inclusion, Warnock, Salamanca, SEND, disability, education
Lara Conner (2016) 'Reflections on inclusion: how far have we come since Warnock and Salamanca?' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 18-23.
Critical Incident Analysis: Reflections of a Teacher Educator
As a teacher educator, I consider myself an advocate for research-informed education and strongly believe that it starts with one's own critical self-reflection and analysis of one’s own teaching practice. Critical incident analysis is a pedagogical theory developed by Tripp (1993), whose analytical approaches allow reflection on teaching situations - 'the critical incident' - so that teachers can develop their professional judgments and practices. This article examines the concept of critical incident analysis through a teaching situation, with the aim of improving the teaching practice of students on teacher education programmes. I conclude that although critical incident analysis is a useful tool in navigating teaching practices, often challenges need to be addressed at much broader levels than the teaching context itself.
Keywords: Critical incident, critical thinking, reflection, analysis, teaching practice, teacher education, teacher educator.
Ruksana Mohammed (2016 'Critical incident analysis: reflections of a teacher educator' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 25-29.
Science-Based Entrepreneur Project Development Process for Pre-Service Science Teachers: Difficulties Faced
This study used a phenomenological research design to determine the difficulties faced in the science-based entrepreneur project development process for pre-service science teachers. Qualitative data were obtained through interviews conducted with ten pre-service science teachers. The data were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis. The results indicated that pre-service science teachers have most difficulty 'making decisions on one of the innovative ideas' and 'making predictions about unexpected situations'. They also have difficulties 'calculating the cost as a result of design or work analysis', 'identifying if the idea already existed (similarity analysis)' and 'making decisions on the required materials, tools, services'. These results show the need for pre-service science teachers to communicate with other institutions and organisations.
Keywords: Science education; Teacher education; Entrepreneur project.
İsa Deveci (2016) 'Science-based entrepreneur project development process for pre-service science teachers: difficulties faced' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 30-35.
Like a Fish in Water? Experiences of Muslim Families in the British Education System
This article summarises the explorations of two Initial Teacher Education (ITE) lecturers looking particularly at Muslim families’ sense of belonging as they encounter the British education system. The study draws on Garcia's (2009, Alstad, 2013) view of monoglossic and heteroglossic settings, and on Cremin's (2015) proposition of the super-diversity of inner-city experiences. Case studies of individual families are used to create a picture that reflects the complexity and shifting nature of cultures, languages and identities in present-day Britain. Video and tape interviews are used and data coded and analysed to identify prevailing themes. The families and schools taking part are active participants in the research process, giving informed and ongoing consent, and having control of the resulting findings. Parents' and children’s perceptions and experience have evolved in complex ways across the generations, and in ways that challenge the stereotypes that dominate media portrayals. Early findings suggest that existing paradigms for discussing identity fail to capture the increasingly complex and super-diverse realities. In a world where xenophobia currently fuels rigid and stereotypical views of cultures in general and Muslim cultures in particular, it is important that the complexity of families' identities and relationships to the existing systems is seen, heard and appreciated.
Keywords: identity, diversity, culture, family, Muslim
Rose White and Fran Paffard (2016) 'Like a fish in water? Experiences of Muslim families in the British education system' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 36-40.
Looking At 'Both Sides' Of Teacher Education Research and Policy-Making: Insights for the Teacher Education Research Community
Simone White is Professor and Chair of Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, Australia, and currently the President of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA). Simone’s research, teaching and engagement are focused on the key question of how to best prepare teachers and leaders for diverse communities. Her current research areas focus on teacher education research and policy; teacher educators and professional experience; and building and sustaining university–school/community partnerships. Through her collective work, she aims to connect research, policy and practice in new ways that break down traditional borders between academics, policymakers, communities and practitioners. Simone currently leads the state-funded initiative Teaching Academies for Professional Practice (TAPP) aimed at improving the professional learning of pre-service and in-service teachers across a broad geographic cluster in Melbourne.
Teacher education researchers appear generally not well equipped to maximise a range of dissemination strategies, and remain largely separated from the policy implications of their research. How teacher education researchers address this issue and communicate their research to a wider public audience is more important than ever to consider within a global political discourse where teacher education researchers appear frustrated that their findings should, but do not, make a difference; and where the research they produce is often marginalised. This paper seeks to disrupt the widening gap between teacher education researchers and policy-makers by looking at the issue from 'both sides'. The paper examines policy–research tensions and the critique of teacher education researchers and then outlines some of the key findings from an Australian policy-maker study. Recommendations are offered as a way for teacher education researchers to begin to mobilise a new set of generative strategies to draw from.
Keywords: teacher educators, teacher education, policy, research, policy-makers, research community
Simone White (2016) 'Looking at 'both sides' of teacher education research and policy-making: insights for the teacher education research community' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 41-46.
Teaching with Tablets
With the increased deployment of tablet devices in the primary classroom, Caldwell and Bird aim to provide much-needed direction and a range of practical ideas on how these technologies can be used to transform teaching and learning. In this text, Caldwell and Bird's own expertise is complemented by contributions from several experienced school-based computing leaders, academics and specialists.
Teaching with tablets is a well-researched text and makes reference to a number of tried and tested tablet applications. As is the case with other titles in the Learning Matters series, each chapter is clearly structured with defined aims, links to the Teachers' Standards (Department for Education (DfE), 2013), the National Curriculum (DfE, 2013), detailed case studies, short activities, ideas for further reading and useful links. Links to theory are strong throughout each chapter, providing secure grounding for the teaching approaches under discussion and maintaining a firm focus on the transformative potential of technology.
The case studies are particularly useful in providing practical examples of how tablets have been used in different settings and subject areas, along with explanations of the pedagogical approaches which have been deployed. The use of these practice-based case studies provides valuable contexts to support any trainee teacher, in-service teacher or subject leader looking to develop their use of tablet devices in the classroom. In addition to the case studies, each chapter also provides a list of suitable tablet applications which can be utilised to support the teaching and learning approaches under discussion. It is noteworthy that there is no specific platform bias and many of the tablet applications discussed are available on various operating systems and devices. Whilst this book does not set out to provide masterclass tutorials in the use of specific tablet applications, it certainly provides a strong rationale and detailed examples which would spark sufficient interest amongst readers to explore the applications further.
The content of the book covers various broad themes, including manipulating media, digital storytelling, talk and collaboration, using technology outdoors, computer science and the use of iPads in the early years. In addition to the specific content focus of each chapter, there are additional links made to areas such as assessment, differentiation, e-safety and pupil-led learning, where deemed relevant. The book provides many practical examples across a range of different subject areas and teaching and learning approaches. Whereas traditionally, similar texts may be broken down into subject-specific chapters, the approach taken here is more holistic and theme-based, which is appropriate due to the flexibility of the tools under discussion and provides an emphasis on transferable skills. Whilst the index certainly suffices for anyone looking for subject-specific content, some readers may still be appreciative of a curriculum map to navigate to subject-based ideas.
The authors recognise that whilst many schools have purchased tablet devices, they are not necessarily being used to optimize or transform teaching and learning. With this in mind, it is somewhat surprising that the text does not delve deeper into discussions around implementation issues, such as multiple device management, content sharing and information technology infrastructure in schools. Nevertheless, the text is highly accessible and technical vocabulary is clearly explained throughout. Despite the obvious focus on technology, all ideas outlined in the text are undoubtedly examples of high-quality teaching and learning which will appeal to many teachers. In summary, this timely book would be valuable for any new or experienced teacher looking to develop their understanding and use of tablet technology in a meaningful manner.
Review by Gurmit Uppal (2016) ‘Teaching with Tablets’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 45-47.
Helen Caldwell and James Bird
London: Sage, 2015
Reviewed by Gurmit Uppal
University of East London
Action Research in Education (2nd Edition)
This is the 2013 second edition of an already well-established book on educational action research. The text, and the authors, genuinely appreciate the benefits, pitfalls and difficulties of action research in general, and these are specifically applied to the contexts of professional learning and the professional practice of those in education. This applies whether they are qualified teachers undertaking action research for continuing professional development, or student teachers undertaking action research as part of an Initial Teacher Education qualification.
To support both potential readerships of the book, the authors offer a practical yet highly theoretically informed step-by-step approach which is easy to follow and readable yet packed with important information. I currently use this text with my pre-service teachers undertaking action research assignments and they find it to be highly accessible whilst offering a depth which underpins both theory and context. The book positions teachers and student teachers as 'practitioner enquirers' and as such offers a wide range of different models, or, as the authors put it, different 'ways of being'. There is a strong connection running all the way through this book which links together action research, teacher learning, pupil impact and pupil voice. While this might be expected from texts of this nature, this book tackles these aspects particularly well, especially in chapter 5 'Taking account of learner perspectives in your enquiry'. The themes covered here are sometimes either omitted or glossed over in other books on this topic.
The book starts with a careful consideration of what 'enquiry' is, before teasing out and identifying both the links between teacher and student enquiry and their benefits. The very first sentence, 'Teachers are problem solvers,' sets the scene for the rest of the book, which sees teachers as active agents who seek to create their own authoritative knowledge and make claims about their practice which are both rooted in methods of enquiry and linked to pupil voice.
After a brief history of action research, the book settles down to explore the action research cycle which is often conceived as a series of action steps following questioning and fact-finding. The focus is always on the practice of action research to inform the practice of learning and teaching. As such, the book always underpins its discussions of research within a conversation about the links between practitioner enquiry and pedagogy. In my opinion, it does this convincingly without falling into the trap of making unsubstantiated claims about the power and worth of practitioner enquiry. In this regard, the book is both realistic and inspirational.
After the opening chapters, the book explores how practitioners might develop a research question (chapter 3) and then moves on to finding an approach that meets the needs of the context and professional learning in question (chapter 4). Chapters 5–7 variously discuss the stakeholders in educational contexts and how their needs and positions can be incorporated into practitioner enquiry. The final chapters (8 and 9) explore concluding the research and ensuring it has impact. This last point - impact - is crucial, and one that this book does well to explore and develop, which again is something that singles this text out from other books in this field.
As already noted, I currently use this book in my teaching. My students, as a professional learning audience, really appreciate the case studies. They feel these studies bring 'alive' the world of possibilities that this approach can provide, in a concrete and meaningful way. In fact, I think this is frequently the problem, not just with books on practitioner enquiry/action research, but with the process itself in more general terms, and that knowing what to do, why and what the possibilities are is something very daunting for professionals in practice. This can often be the case particularly when encountering and studying books on this type of research activity for the first time. The tone of this book, its coverage and practical application are certainly useful in helping readers to move away from the paralysis of choice that this research approach can often seem to provide.
To conclude, this is an excellent contribution to an increasingly crowded field, but one that certainly in my own teaching I have come to really value. In Chapter 2 of the book the authors suggest that a way to explore the quality of research is to assess both its 'rigour' and also its 'warrant'. Using this as a tool to think about this book and its role in the market place of other action research titles, its quality and usefulness shine through.
Review by Warren Kidd (2016) 'Action Research in Education (2nd Edition)' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 45-47.
Vivienne Baumfield, Elaine Hall and Kate Wall
London: Sage, 2013
Reviewed by Warren Kidd
University of East London
The Primary Curriculum: A Creative Approach (2nd Edition)
The editors of this book have over 50 years' experience of teaching between them. The book has 13 chapters, each being an introduction to a subject taught at primary school. The majority of chapters, though not all, provide references for further reading. The references and suggestions for further reading at the end of the English chapter are not as up to date as those in subsequent chapters. As English is such an integral part of the primary National Curriculum (2014) it would have been beneficial to the reader had the author considered recent literature on the teaching of English. However, I am interested in this book mainly for the chapter on mathematics, so this review focuses on 'An introduction to mathematics'.
The author of this chapter, Gina Donaldson, has 11 years' teaching experience, a degree and MA in Mathematics and Education and is now a senior lecturer and Primary Mathematics team leader at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her wealth of experience in mathematics is evident throughout the chapter, as she is able to explain complex mathematical ideas in a way that is accessible to not only experienced teachers but newly qualified and trainee teachers also.
The chapter's aims are clear and well laid out (as they are in all the chapters), namely to provide new teachers with a framework to understand and critically evaluate experiences of mathematics and to challenge one's own principles of what good practice in mathematics is, based on an understanding of theoretical ideas and research findings. In my opinion, Donaldson achieves these aims.
She does so by encouraging the reader to reflect on their own experience of being taught mathematics, in particular, what the focus of mathematics was. I found this particularly useful, as Donaldson explains that 'the staging of the [curriculum] content is based on the view that mathematics is a set of knowledge and skills, which is generally hierarchical...[H]owever, mathematical learning might not always develop in a linear fashion' (p. 30). She goes on to explain that an alternative way to consider the content of the mathematics curriculum is with regard to the skills of problem-solving and mathematical reasoning. I found this particularly useful as, whilst reading this chapter, I experienced some training on mastery in mathematics and I found that Donaldson's explanation of mathematical reasoning, instrumental understanding and relational understanding really helped me to understand how I can develop mastery in mathematics in the children I teach.
Throughout this chapter, the author makes strong links between research and the Early Years Framework and the National Curriculum. Points raised by Donaldson are also consistently supported by a range of sources and case studies. Furthermore, Donaldson's classroom experience is evident as she highlights the various difficulties teachers face when teaching mathematics and she provides insightful and helpful suggestions to support teachers.
A great deal of information is presented throughout the chapter, and it would have been even better had some sections, such as learning through play and assessment, been covered in more detail. However, this chapter is only an introduction to mathematics.
This book is a valuable resource for trainee teachers, newly qualified teachers and experienced teachers who want to reflect upon their experiences of learning and teaching mathematics. I intend to continue using it to develop my practice across all areas of the primary curriculum.
Review by Rebecca Bannocks (2016) 'The Primary Curriculum: A Creative Approach (2nd Edition)' Research in Teacher Education, Vol 6(No.1). 45-47.
Patricia Driscoll, Andrew Lambirth and Judith Roden
London: Sage, 2015
Reviewed by Rebecca Bannocks
(ex-UEL Primary PGCE)
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