Learning from Research on Teaching: Perspective, Methodology, and Representation: Volume 11

Cover of Learning from Research on Teaching: Perspective, Methodology, and Representation

Table of contents

(20 chapters)


Pages v-vii
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Pages xiii-xvii
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This is the 11th volume in the Advances in Research on Teaching series, and the second to address teacher education and professional development. The previous volume (Brophy, 2004) focused specifically on the use of video in those contexts. This volume casts a much broader net, looking at studies of a variety of teacher education and professional development issues. The studies were selected to offer contrasts in the types of informants who provided the data, the methods used to collect the data, and the means chosen for representing and communicating what was found.

A dilemma arises anytime a teacher, in the moment of teaching, tries to determine what or how much the class understands. This is the question of whom to ask: The least knowledgeable student, the quickest intellect, the plodder, the average student, etc. This decision will determine to some extent what the teacher learns about the understanding or skill of the class, which in turn will guide the teacher's next action. Of course, asking only one student will not provide a comprehensive view of the knowledge of the class as a whole. In a similar way, researchers’ and teacher educators’ decisions about whom to ask about teaching will determine what they learn. Across the book, we will see the impact of who gets asked on what is learned about teaching.

This chapter provides a range of data that we broadly characterize as listening to preservice teachers’ perceptions and representations of teacher education programs. Our first purpose is to illustrate the variety of ways in which it is possible to listen to those learning to teach and to illustrate the rich complexity of the replies we received. Our second purpose is to illustrate how these data have encouraged and sustained us in the development of our own teacher education practices, both in the university classroom and in practicum supervision in schools.

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This chapter describes a unique model used by one teacher educator to provide an authentic process for assessing student learning and observing how students represent themselves as teachers to their families. The student-led parent conference is a means of making learning more viable and more intrinsically motivating because it incorporates elements of choice and a real audience for evaluation. A powerful by-product is the credibility it can give to at least one recommendation university professors often make about what classroom teachers should do.

In this chapter, a teacher educator, counselor educator, and educational psychologist look at written and pictorial representations of teaching created by a sixth grade class in West Texas. The school is predominantly African American and low income and, at the time of this project, was rated “recognized,” the second highest rating in the Texas system. The students’ representations are analyzed and discussed with reference to the literatures in curriculum and instruction, counseling, and educational psychology.

Different images of teacher knowledge and of teaching are described using the conceptual structure of Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999a), in which knowledge and practice are viewed as either formal, practical, or transformative. Instructional design (ID) represents a formal image of knowledge and frames the teacher as a problem-solver. Teachers, however, have been resistant to the use of ID. In a graduate ID course, students were given the task of drawing their own representation of the ID process. Two research questions framed the study, including How might these models be categorized? and What views of teaching were found in the models? From 13 deliveries of the course, 123 models and explanatory narratives were analyzed from students who were teachers. The course and ID model task are described. A recursive cycle of categorization and theme-building were used. Types of models included those characterized by Human Activity (51 models), Components (23), Artifacts (20), Organic (15), and Flow Charts (14). Views of teaching included Teacher-centered (47 models), Designer-centered (36 models), Co-centered (18), Learner-centered (16), and De-centered (6). Analysis revealed that for teachers ID activity is a human activity and the principal focus for design activity is teacher needs. Implications are summarized in terms of teacher knowledge and expertise, as well as limitations to our methodology.

As research on teaching has turned to close examination of the nature and development of teachers’ knowledge, it increasingly has employed methods that offer potential for unpacking tacit knowledge, revealing practical knowledge, and exploring the full body of professional knowledge that a teacher may possess. The methodologies illustrated in the various chapters of the book as a whole raise important issues surrounding these questions. In particular, the contrasting research strategies featured in Part II make even clearer the impact that methodology can have on what can be learned about teaching.

In this chapter, the authors analyze current pre-service teachers’ reflections on the journals written by teachers from the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. They explore what the interchange reveals about pre-service teachers’ conceptions of teaching and the learning-to-teach process. The analysis focuses on the commonalities and differences between these groups of teachers. Findings are presented in a readers’ theater format in which recurring themes and meaning-making are expressed by voices from the past and by those who would be teachers.

This chapter is focused on a 3-year, privately funded project. Dean David England, the dean of our College of Education at Western Michigan University from 2000 to 2002, worked in collaboration with Elizabeth Binda, the chairperson of the board of directors for the Guido A. and Elizabeth H. Binda Foundation, to develop a project that would contribute in substantive ways to the improvement of teacher education. As a veteran K-12 teacher and teacher educator, Elizabeth Binda has long taken great interest in contributing to the profession where she has invested a good deal of her life.

This research investigated the creative representations and written reflections of 74 pre-service teachers in two teacher education courses from two large public research universities. Using qualitative methodology, this study examined images of teaching in conjunction with written reflections as a measure of the developmental level of learning to teach. As the representations were analyzed, the very personal nature in which these representations were constructed became apparent, along with the importance of the students’ own past personal experiences. Moreover, sophistication of reflective comments also differed across groups. Differences between the two groups are discussed and implications for future research are offered.

As teacher educators, we know that preservice teachers come into teaching with idealistic visions of both teaching and their own identity as a teacher. Students’ sense that they are or could be teachers is an important aspect of their decision to become teachers. If who they become as teachers must emerge from who they are as people, teacher educators ought to be interested in how students position themselves in their role and identity as teachers when they enter teacher education programs. This paper explores what preservice teachers’ initial applications to teacher education programs reveal about how preservice teachers position themselves as teachers.

In this account of a study of a Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) intervention in a preservice teacher classroom, the authors explore an alternative way of learning to teach, as well as the dynamics of interdisciplinary collaboration between Theater and Education. Measures of racial and political attitudes did not demonstrate any change in the preservice teachers; however, several limitations made these findings inconclusive. Observations and journal entries suggested that interactive theater may be a promising way to make beliefs about teaching and learning visible, and therefore accessible for critical reflection.

Whatever the sources of their information and the methods used to collect and analyze data, researchers need to make good decisions about how to represent their findings clearly to help others understand what their research reveals about teaching, teacher thinking, or teacher education. A reading of journals in the field reveals quite a variety of strategies for representation, as well as the flourishing of arts-based research, multimedia cases, and other interesting experiments in representation of findings. Readers of this book have already encountered several experiments in representation from narrative boxes, teacher-edited videotapes, readers’ theatre, and drawings.

The point that I wish to make is that we must be constantly aware of Shakespeare's “whining school-boy”, employ our pedagogy in the framework of its power, and be very humble while preaching our ideas, hoping to find the right way to bring a smile to the faces of our children. It is in this context that I wish to suggest a theatrical framework for teacher training, that is to say – theatrical representations of teaching as performance.

Drawing on a view of children's and teachers’ identities as stories to live by, the authors use one field text, taken from a year-long narrative inquiry, to show how children's and teachers’ stories to live by interact with milieu and subject matter in classroom curriculum making. Tensions around negotiating a curriculum of lives are identified as children's stories bump against teachers’ stories. Three children's stories to live by are represented through a set of images in found poetry. We return to the curriculum-making moment with wonders about each child's evolving stories to live by in relation with the particular subject matter. We outline four methodological dilemmas and ethical dilemmas encountered in studying multiple participants’ experiences nested within social, cultural and institutional narratives.

This study examined teachers’ cognitive development when interacting with video ethnography. It used grounded theory to discover embedded meanings and relationships that emerge from descriptive data collected from six teachers. Findings revealed (a) the categories of cognitive activities when using video ethnography, (b) the influence of experience and beliefs on these activities, (c) the scaffold that video ethnography provides, and (d) teachers’ progression in a cognitive development process through interaction with video ethnography. The study has implications in improving technology use in teacher development, production of multimedia cases, and research on case-based pedagogy and other related areas.

This chapter documents monthly meetings of Bank Street College Reading and Literacy alumnae between October 2002 and December 2004. It describe the ways in which case study and self-study methodologies enabled participants to support their own professional development and that of colleagues. Findings suggest that the process enabled participants to revisit, reconsider, and reframe understandings and perspectives both in the minute and later as they shared experiences with a broader audience. Outcomes include a more extensive professional knowledge base, increased ability to meet the needs of children and parents, and a stronger sense of self as professional identity.


Pages 411-428
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This book was organized to illustrate some of the affordances and constraints of contrasting methodological approaches to qualitative research on teaching (who provides the information, how the information is gathered, and how the findings are represented). The differing perspectives, methods, and forms of representation in the included studies complement one another to enrich our insights about teachers, as they progress from applying to teacher education programs through various stages of completion of these programs to continuing their development as professionals. In addition to these methodological insights, however, the chapters offer a variety of substantive findings that will inform the work of teacher educators, including many that reinforce or otherwise connect with one another.

Cover of Learning from Research on Teaching: Perspective, Methodology, and Representation
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Advances in Research on Teaching
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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