European Educational Research Journal
ISSN 1474-9041


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Volume 7 Number 4 2008

Archive

CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]

 

ECER GOTHENBURG KEYNOTE
Sharon Gewirtz. Give Us a Break! A Sceptical Review of Contemporary Discourses of Lifelong Learning, pages 414‑424

EERJ ROUNDTABLE
The European Research-Intensive University
David Livesey.
Putting the Idea of the Research-Driven or Research-Intensive University in Europe in its Context, pages 425‑432
John H. Smith. Europe’s Universities in the European Research Area, pages 433‑437
Sverker Lindblad. Navigating in the Field of University Positioning: on international ranking lists, quality indicators and higher education governing, pages 438‑450

SPECIAL ISSUE
Research in Teacher Education
Guest Editors: MARIT HONERØD HOVEID & JAMES C. CONROY
Marit Honerød Hoveid & James C. Conroy. Introduction, pages 451‑458 doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.451 VIEW FULL TEXT
Jean Murray, Anne Campbell, Ian Hextall, Moira Hulme, Marion Jones, Pat Mahony, Ian Menter, Richard Procter & Karl Wall. Mapping the Field of Teacher Education Research: methodology and issues in a research capacity building initiative in teacher education in the United Kingdom, pages 459‑474
Laura Colucci-Gray & Christine Fraser. Contested Aspects of Becoming a Teacher: teacher learning and the role of subject knowledge, pages 475‑486
Klaus-Henning Hansen. The Curriculum Workshop: a place for deliberative inquiry and teacher professional learning, pages 487‑500
Gerry MacRuairc & Judith Harford. Researching the Contested Place of Reflective Practice in the Emerging Culture of Performativity in Schools: views from the Republic of Ireland, pages 501‑511
Robyn Ewing & John Hughes. Arts-Informed Inquiry in Teacher Education: contesting the myths, pages 512‑522
Isabel Rots & Antonia Aelterman. Two Profiles of Teacher Education Graduates: a discriminant analysis of teaching commitment, pages 523‑534
Philipp Grollmann. The Quality of Vocational Teachers: teacher education, institutional roles and professional reality, pages 535‑547
Inger Erixon Arreman & Per-Olof Erixon. Developing Research Structures and Research Capacity: the Swedish National Postgraduate School in Educational Work (NaPA), pages 548‑556

ECER 2007
Best Paper Award of the Postgraduate and Young Researchers Pre-Conference
Nasser Mansour. Religious Beliefs: a hidden variable in the performance of science teachers in the classroom, pages 557‑576


Give Us a Break! A Sceptical Review of Contemporary Discourses of Lifelong Learning

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.414

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Over the past 40 years a whole cluster of discourses centred on the ideas of the learning society and lifelong learning has emerged. These discourses have moved from being theoretical and aspirational to become increasingly embedded in international and national policies and professional practices. This article raises some concerns about what happens when the aspirational discourses which abounded in the 1960s and 1970s are translated into real-world practice and policies. The article begins with a brief review of the range of discourses bound up in the theory and practice of the learning society, and some of the sociological explanations for the proliferation of learning society and lifelong learning discourses. It then goes on to ask some questions about the potential risks of specific manifestations of these totalising approaches to education, focusing in particular on threats to ‘learning-rich’ and ‘learning-free’ spaces. In the spirit of lifelong learning, the author develops her arguments by drawing on some reflections on her own experiences as a worker (specifically as a supervisor of doctoral students) and as a parent of young children.

Putting the Idea of the Research-Driven or Research-Intensive University in Europe in its Context

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.425

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Research intensive universities have important roles in society and cannot be valued solely on the basis of their contribution to economic growth. Their activities are only part of the diverse spectrum of the higher education system which advanced societies need. League tables of universities discourage diversity, distort the goals of higher education institutions and grossly simplify the transmission of knowledge and the advancement of learning. Universities are complex clusters of networks of individual active learners engaged to their mutual benefit in a variety of ways with the rest of society through a myriad of equally complex network of active learners. These engagements are beneficial provided that the do not distort the roles of universities.

 

Europe’s Universities in the European Research Area

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.433

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Universities are placed strategically at the interplay of research and technological development, educational and regional development policies at both national and European level. Universities are also unique environments in which interdisciplinary skills are being developed to tackle the complex challenges facing human, social and economic development in the twenty-first century. Future European research policy should take more account of this unique role of universities in building the ‘knowledge society’. The launching of the European Commission’s ‘Green Paper on the Future of the European Research Area’ in 2007 provided scope for a new recognition of the place of Europe’s universities as key stakeholders and gave the European University Association an opportunity to bring university needs and perspectives into the policy debate on new instruments and initiatives required.

 

Navigating in the Field of University Positioning: on international ranking lists, quality indicators and higher education governing

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.438

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The construction of transnational and national systems for comparing qualities of universities are presented and discussed. In focus are two important university ranking lists – those produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University and by the Times Higher Education Supplement. A Swedish example concerning the making of a resource distribution system based on performance indicators is presented. The Swedish performance indicator system and the international university ranking lists contain similar technologies for comparing universities and are to a large extent based on services of the same multinational corporations. From this point of view ranking lists and systems of performance based governance can be conceived of as globalisation at work.

 

Mapping the Field of Teacher Education Research: methodology and issues in a research capacity building initiative in teacher education in the United Kingdom

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.459

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This article discusses the first stages of the work of the Teacher Education Group (TEG) in building research capacity in teacher education research and identifies the potential of the model adopted for future European initiatives in the field. The TEG work is part of the second phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP), based on an embedded social practices model of research capacity building. The article opens by outlining the broad context of research capacity building initiatives and identifying general factors which create concerns about the sustainability of teacher education research in the United Kingdom. It then describes the initial impetus, within the TEG, for the creation of an up-to-date annotated mapping of current research in teacher education and outlines the practices used to generate the model used for the mapping. In conclusion, the article discusses some of the methodological, ethical and epistemological issues raised by the mapping exercise and the challenges ahead in disseminating and embedding the initiative.

 

Contested Aspects of Becoming a Teacher: teacher learning and the role of subject knowledge

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.475

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Teaching is acknowledged to be complex, multifaceted and dynamic. Curriculum revisions in Scotland, and elsewhere, call for teachers who are adaptable and capable of change. Yet the skills and attributes traditionally valued and acquired by teachers during their education do not necessarily equip them to cope with the shifting landscape of educational change. This article draws on a collaborative review of literature relating to teacher education, undertaken for the Scottish Teachers for a New Era project. It examines the nature of knowledge for teaching generally and in relation to science education in particular to discuss contested aspects and to develop a conceptual framework for future research and development in this area. The main argument for this study is that a reformulation of teacher education is required. This involves changing the way teachers are educated within an accompanying shift in epistemology and a move to interdisciplinarity. It calls for a more egalitarian way of learning as a means to facilitate change within schools for the creation of a more equal and just society.

 

The Curriculum Workshop: a place for deliberative inquiry and teacher professional learning

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.487

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In this article, the curriculum workshop (CW) is elaborated as an approach to professional learning, deliberation and inquiry. It offers a compre­hensive framework for school-based deliberation and inquiry, is rooted in curriculum theory, promises a broad range of applications in teacher education and provides tools to assess the trustworthiness of processes and out­comes. The first section of the article discusses the theoretical background of the CW by going back to Joseph Schwab’s idea of ‘the practical’, of deliberative inquiry in curricular groups. Building on these ideas, Karl Frey’s model of a ‘curriculum conference’ is presented. Elements of Schwab’s and Frey’s approaches are then modified and adapted to the CW. The second section asks how the CW was enacted in the frame­work of a European project on good prac­tice in school-based teacher education, presents exemplary outcomes and critically discusses the trustworthiness of the approach. The final section pro­vides a summary of the outcomes and indicates directions for further research.

 

Researching the Contested Place of Reflective Practice in the Emerging Culture of Performativity in Schools: views from the Republic of Ireland

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.501

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This article examines the role of reflective practice in a growing culture of new managerialism and performativity which has emerged in schools in the Republic of Ireland over recent years. Ten student teachers participating in a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and 24 experienced teachers participating in a Master’s in Education programme participated in the study. Through a series of open-ended questionnaires and focus group discussions, these teachers’ experiences of the evaluative framework which now typifies schooling in Ireland, and their capacity within this paradigm to engage in critical reflection, were examined. The study comments on the extent to which meaningful reflection can be part of a performance-driven agenda, and examines the implications of performativity cultures for initial teacher education and teacher professional development.

 

Arts-Informed Inquiry in Teacher Education: contesting the myths

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.512

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Arts-informed inquiry has attracted a great deal of controversy in recent times as it has gained popularity as an educational research methodology in teacher education. As with other innovative approaches and methodologies, there have been lively debates about its rigour, authenticity and appropriateness. This article suggests principles for its use in exploring relevant questions in teacher education research and examines some of the issues that have been used to challenge its integrity. Several recent teacher education research projects undertaken by staff and research higher degree graduates at the University of Sydney are discussed initially as exemplars and to provide a context for the discussion. The authors demonstrate how research using arts-informed inquiry contributes perspectives and understandings that are distinctive from other methodologies and so can offer new understandings about some of the liminal issues in teacher education.

 

Two Profiles of Teacher Education Graduates: a discriminant analysis of teaching commitment

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.523

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Although several studies have confirmed the importance of teaching commitment for beginning teachers’ retention in the profession, research on the factors that enhance the teaching commitment of teacher education graduates is scarce. The purpose of the current study is thus to identify the predicting factors that distinguish teacher education graduates with a low level from those with a high level of teaching commitment. Four categories of predicting variables were distinguished: (1) personal characteristics (sex, personality); (2) initial motivation for teaching; (3) teacher education (type of teacher training, graduation degree, preparedness for teaching, faculty support and mentor support); and (4) integration into teaching (teacher efficacy and professional orientation). The results suggest that graduates with a low level of teaching commitment can be reliably distinguished from graduates with a high level of commitment by the personality factor ‘conscientiousness’, the type of teacher training, their initial motivation for teaching, their views of their teacher education (in terms of preparation for teaching, faculty support and mentor support) and their teacher efficacy. As such, the findings of this study have important implications for teacher education since the results confirm the importance of teacher education for the teaching commitment of graduates.

 

The Quality of Vocational Teachers: teacher education, institutional roles and professional reality

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.535

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What are quality vocational teachers? This article analyzes the different factors exerting an influence on the professional knowledge, practices and performance of teaching staff involved in technical and vocational education and training (TVET). The international variety of vocational teacher education patterns, profiles and recruitment practices is presented. Any assessment of the quality of teachers’ work, be it in theory or practice, needs to be considered against the background of the institutional environment in which they practise. Hence, some common trends of institutional change within vocational education are introduced. Most particularly here, the author focuses on the professional reality of vocational teachers as made manifest in the conjoined elements of the knowledge of teachers and professional cultures. In doing so, the author draws on some empirical exemplars. The author shows how closely teacher education and the institutional contexts are entwined in the minds of teachers as well as in professional cultures. Finally, some conclusions are drawn as to what this implies for high-quality vocational teacher education and recruitment.

 

Developing Research Structures and Research Capacity: the Swedish National Postgraduate School in Educational Work (NaPA)

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.548

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This article focuses on the emergence and development of new research structures and research capacity within Swedish teacher education at the beginning of the new millennium. Since 2001, it has been possible in Sweden to undertake postgraduate and research studies within teacher education – something that was previously impossible. As a result of a national reform, a new research discipline, educational work, was established at several Swedish universities. At the same time, the National Postgraduate School in Educational Work (NaPA) was created, the responsibility for which was given to Umeå University, one of the larger Swedish teacher education providers. The aim of the article is to provide a picture of Swedish national teacher education policies in the first years of the millennium that have generated new research structures, which, in turn, have enabled a rapid and nationally distributed expansion of research within the field of Swedish teacher education. It draws on a combination of policy documents, research carried out by the two authors and reflections on their own experiences, as a former PhD student who now has a doctoral qualification in educational work and as the head of NaPA respectively.

 

Religious Beliefs: a hidden variable in the performance of science teachers in the classroom

doi:10.2304/eerj.2008.7.4.557

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This article focuses on some of the challenges of teaching science in a culture where science and religion sometimes appear to be or are set at odds with each other. Apparent conflicts between scholarly claims and religious claims are not limited to science, however – they occur in almost every subject. Many topics included in science education are acknowledged as controversial issues, for example, evolution, cloning, abortion and genetic engineering. These issues pose problems for science teachers, especially in a religiously based culture, because of the nature of the conflict between the implications of a scientific study of some of these issues and religion. Some other issues may not formally conflict with religion but teachers’ views, or the way they interpret the religious view regarding these controversial issues, can create a false contradiction, which might influence their performance and, in turn, influence their students’ learning. Therefore, there is a need to understand teachers’ personal religious beliefs and practices around some of these, and the way their beliefs influence their performance in the classroom. This article describes a study conducted to address these needs. The study looks at the role and influence of religion on the science teacher’s performance. The findings highlighted the powerful influence of teachers’ religious beliefs in dealing with or gaining new knowledge (the epistemology and the ontology of science). Also, the findings found that teachers’ religious beliefs are among the major constructs that drive teachers’ ways of thinking and classroom practices about scientific issues related to religion.

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