Researching pupils, schools and oneself. Teachers as integrators of theory and practice in initial teacher education

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Ams/Girona*barri Lib]On: 26 November 2014, At: 06:05Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Education for Teaching:International research and pedagogyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20</p><p>Researching pupils, schools andoneself. Teachers as integrators oftheory and practice in initial teachereducationKatriina Maaranen a &amp; Leena Krokfors aa Department of Applied Sciences of Education , Faculty ofBehavioural Sciences , University of Helsinki , FinlandPublished online: 04 Jul 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: Katriina Maaranen &amp; Leena Krokfors (2008) Researching pupils, schools andoneself. Teachers as integrators of theory and practice in initial teacher education, Journal ofEducation for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, 34:3, 207-222</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607470802213825</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. 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Terms &amp;</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjet20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02607470802213825</p></li><li><p>Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Am</p><p>s/G</p><p>iron</p><p>a*ba</p><p>rri L</p><p>ib] </p><p>at 0</p><p>6:05</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Researching pupils, schools and oneself. Teachers as integrators oftheory and practice in initial teacher education</p><p>Katriina Maaranen* and Leena Krokfors</p><p>Department of Applied Sciences of Education, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University ofHelsinki, Finland</p><p>(Received 6 September 2007; final revision received 7 May 2008)</p><p>Researching can be viewed as a way of analysing issues of schooling by linkingtheoretical knowledge with perceptions of educational reality already duringteacher education. Not only does practicing teaching provide a context foranalysing instruction, learning, school culture, diversity, or any other issue relatedto schooling, also researching these issues provides future teachers opportunity toview schooling as complex and problematic. This case study surveyed andinterviewed a group of recently graduated teachers who had worked as teachersduring their education. The interest was on their experiences of M.A. thesisresearch as well as the integration of theory and practice during the education.The respondents had experienced researching as useful as well as meaningful,although they also had development ideas concerning it.</p><p>Keywords: research-based teacher education; theory-practice integration; practi-tioner research; reflective practice; research process</p><p>Introduction</p><p>The success of Finnish pupils in the OECDs Pisa tests in 2000, 2003 and 2006 has</p><p>focused a great deal of attention on the Finnish school system, as well as Finnish</p><p>teacher education. Finding reasons for this success is naturally a multifaceted,</p><p>complex issue and no simple answer is available. However, it is possible to argue that</p><p>higher, academic teacher education in Finland has some connection with this</p><p>success. Researching pedagogical issues as part of a teacher education programme</p><p>provides future teachers with the possibility, as well as ability, to solve problems</p><p>using methodological tools. Teacher students in Finland are introduced to research</p><p>methodology early on and they practice researching by conducting several small</p><p>pedagogical inquiries. The smaller inquiries lead the students towards their final</p><p>assignment: the masters thesis. Researching pedagogical issues has been viewed as</p><p>an important phase of professional development in academic teacher education and</p><p>is seen as another way of analysing issues of schooling by linking theoretical</p><p>knowledge with perceptions of educational reality. Not only does practicing teaching</p><p>provide a context for analysing instruction, learning, school culture, diversity or any</p><p>other issue related to schooling, researching these issues also provides future teachers</p><p>with the opportunity to view schooling as complex and problematic.</p><p>Using a pragmatic, mixed methods, approach in this research, we investigate the</p><p>relationship between theory, practice and research in the context of an M.A. thesis</p><p>*Corresponding author. Email: katriina.maaranen@helsinki.fi</p><p>Journal of Education for Teaching</p><p>Vol. 34, No. 3, August 2008, 207222</p><p>ISSN 0260-7476 print/ISSN 1360-0540 online</p><p># 2008 Taylor &amp; FrancisDOI: 10.1080/02607470802213825</p><p>http://www.informaworld.com</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Am</p><p>s/G</p><p>iron</p><p>a*ba</p><p>rri L</p><p>ib] </p><p>at 0</p><p>6:05</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>research project, which all Finnish elementary school teacher students must conduct.</p><p>The questions this research addresses are as follows:</p><p>N how meaningful and significant has conducting the research been;N what were the students aims in conducting the research;N how well has teacher education succeeded in integrating theory and practice</p><p>and research supervision?</p><p>Theoretical framework</p><p>Research as a basis of teacher education</p><p>Inquiry-orientated or research-based teacher education has been defined for more</p><p>than two decades (see, for example, Zeichner 1983; Rudduck 1985), while no one</p><p>definition has been agreed on. Within this type of teacher education system Reis-</p><p>Jorge distinguished two orientations of research in teacher education: (1) the</p><p>academic perspective, where the aim is to develop academic skills and theoretical</p><p>discourse; (2) the professional development perspective, where the aim is to use the</p><p>reflective practitioner model to encourage teachers to adopt a reflective stance to</p><p>practice (Reis-Jorge 2007, 402). Reis-Jorge criticized the academic model for being</p><p>unable to transfer the abilities of reflection into practice (Reis-Jorge 2005, 2007).</p><p>However, whether or not the combination of these is possible, it should provide the</p><p>benefits of both the academic as well as professional development aspects, as:</p><p>It may be difficult for practitioners to articulate questions of practical relevance withinthe criteria imposed by academic regulations. A balance in focus on both perspectiveswould seem to contribute to bridging the so-called theory/practice divide. (Reis-Jorge2005, 317)</p><p>Achieving this balance must be the aim of all teacher education, but the means to</p><p>achieve it certainly vary greatly.</p><p>In the Finnish teacher education system the attempt to achieve a balance between</p><p>theory and practice is reached via research-based teacher education, which</p><p>culminates in M.A. thesis research work. According to Kansanen (1999) the overall</p><p>purpose of achieving a balanced development of a teachers personality and expertise</p><p>is to compose a study programme containing three basic components. These core</p><p>elements are the pedagogical content knowledge of school subjects, theory of</p><p>education and practice. The research-based approach in teacher education stresses</p><p>that teaching is drawn from research and theory building. With regard to the</p><p>viewpoint of students it emphasises the students ability to conduct or critically</p><p>analyse and consume formal research (Richardson 1994; Pallas 2001).</p><p>The question of theory and practice in teacher education</p><p>Often in teacher education, the relationship between theory and practice is viewed as</p><p>the relationship between practical training and educational theory, but in the case of</p><p>research-based teacher education the emphasis is also on understanding and</p><p>conducting research from a personal point of view.</p><p>In a pragmatic way of thinking theory and practice are in a transactional process</p><p>vis-a-vis each other and, according to Dewey (1933), action must be taken as the</p><p>basis of philosophical considerations. One of the central ideas of Deweys</p><p>208 K. Maaranen and L. Krokfors</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Am</p><p>s/G</p><p>iron</p><p>a*ba</p><p>rri L</p><p>ib] </p><p>at 0</p><p>6:05</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>pragmatism is that knowing and action are related to each other in a very</p><p>fundamental way and that there is no epistemological difference between them.</p><p>Biesta and Burbules (2003, 105) referred to Deweys action-theoretical framework</p><p>and argued that it is not that theory can tell us how things are and that practice</p><p>merely has to follow. They encapsulated the view of pragmatism by saying that if</p><p>knowledge is indeed a factor in human action, then theory no longer comes before</p><p>practice, but emerges from and feeds back into practice (Maaranen and Krokfors</p><p>2007).</p><p>According to Krokfors (2007), in the teaching profession today there are two</p><p>different orientations to pedagogical practices: (1) to instruct or practice teaching in</p><p>general; (2) to inquire or conduct research about ones own or others teaching and</p><p>learning. Both of these orientations can be seen as acting in pedagogical situations</p><p>and practicing needs skills as well as theoretical knowing, reasoning and</p><p>understanding. A real research orientation in teacher education means that</p><p>investigation, inquiry and research also need supervised practice, and practising</p><p>these skills in pedagogically meaningful situations can also be seen as an integration</p><p>of the theoretical knowledge base or theoretical knowing with the use of appropriate</p><p>data collecting and analysing practices (Krokfors 2007).</p><p>Practitioner research in teacher education</p><p>Practitioner research, which is also referred to as action research or teacher research,</p><p>plays a major role in a teachers professional development. As the purpose of</p><p>practitioner research is to view issues of teaching and schooling as problematic, to</p><p>conduct inquiries concerning them and, based on the findings, to develop work</p><p>practices, it is most often viewed as a field for qualified teachers. However, some</p><p>teacher students work as unqualified teachers at the same time as they study, and as</p><p>part of their obligatory coursework they must conduct M.A. research, with the</p><p>possibility of doing this under the supervision of university personnel.</p><p>According to Luneberg, Ponte, and Van de Vev (2007, 18) the aim of practitioner</p><p>research is first and foremost to bridge the well-known gap between research and</p><p>practice in education. Therefore theory and practice are seen as two sides of the</p><p>same coin. Practice needs theory, as theory needs practice (Luneberg, Ponte, and</p><p>Van de Vev 2007).</p><p>In a wide-ranging and thorough report of published research on teacher</p><p>education in the USA (Cochran-Smith and Zeichner 2006) practitioner research was</p><p>acknowledged as one method of teacher education. According to Grossman (2006),</p><p>within the last 20 years teacher educators have started to use various forms of</p><p>practitioner research in the preparation of teachers, and in most of the research that</p><p>he referred to the teacher students were required to study and analyze some aspect</p><p>of their classroom practice, either themselves or with others (p. 445). However,</p><p>Grossman discovered that different researchers defined practitioner research</p><p>differently, and how they did that determined the types of outcomes which were</p><p>studied. It is significant that using practitioner research as a pedagogy is a choice and</p><p>reflects the assumptions about the nature of teaching practice (Grossman 2006,</p><p>445).</p><p>Richardson (1994) defined practical inquiry as research that practitioners, i.e.</p><p>teachers, conduct in order to improve their practice, whereas formal research is</p><p>Journal of Education for Teaching 209</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Am</p><p>s/G</p><p>iron</p><p>a*ba</p><p>rri L</p><p>ib] </p><p>at 0</p><p>6:05</p><p> 26 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>conducted by researchers or practitioners in order to contribute to established and</p><p>general knowledge. The concept of teacher research has at least four approaches:</p><p>teaching as research; the teacher as reflective practitioner (see, for example, Dewey</p><p>1933; Schon 1983); action research; the teacher as formal educational researcher. The</p><p>first three in Richardsons opinion belong to the practical inquiry category, which isnot associated with any formal research methodology (Richardson 1994, 7).</p><p>In the case reported here there are elements of teacher research as well as formal</p><p>research (or research on teaching), it is, however, difficult to categorize them exactly.</p><p>From one viewpoint students who enquire into teaching or schooling related to their</p><p>own work as teachers seem to be practitioner researchers. However, as they are not</p><p>qualified teachers and they are given directions and supervision in conducting the</p><p>research by professional researchers (university personnel) the research has some</p><p>characteristics of formal research.</p><p>Reflective practice</p><p>Since Deweys How we think (1933) and Schons Reflective practitioner (1983) the</p><p>discussion of the meaning and purpose of reflection has evolved enormously.</p><p>Newman (1996) emphasised the importance of viewing Schons conception of</p><p>reflective practice in the light of its epistemological account and therefore to</p><p>understand it as a part of professional development which aims at a deeper</p><p>understanding. Griffiths and Tann (1992) argued that central to the spirit of</p><p>reflective practice is reflection on the personal and professional concerns of the</p><p>individual student teacher, who reflects on their own practice and uses theorieswholeheartedly and open mindedly.</p><p>Terms such as reflective inquiry, practitioner research and action research</p><p>(Lunenberg, Ponte, and Van de Vev 2007) have a close connection with certain</p><p>aspects of reflection and to some degree may be seen as synonymous with reflective</p><p>practice, although Schon (1983) also used the term reflective research, which he</p><p>defined as research undertaken outside the context of practice (p. 309). Based on</p><p>Schons (1987) work, Zeichner (1990) concluded that practitioners can be helped to</p><p>use their own teaching as a form of research aimed at the improvement of practice,and that research-based teacher education involves efforts to encourage and support</p><p>teachers inquiries into their own practices.</p><p>Becoming a...</p></li></ul>

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