Borko, Whitcomb, & Byrnes Genres of Research in Teacher Education
Chapter 52: Genres of Research in Teacher Education
By Hilda Borko, Jennifer A. Whitcomb, and Kathryn Byrnes
Borko, H., Whitcomb, J., & Byrnes, K. (2008) Genres of research in teacher education. In M. Cochran-Smith, S. Feiman-Nemser, & D. J. McIntyre (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education (3rd Ed.): Enduring questions in changing contexts (pp.1017-1049). New York: Routledge.
- Research in teacher education is conducted using a variety of methods. There is no consensus on one particular method.
“Effects of Teacher Education” Research
- Early research in teaching was behavioristic in nature – focusing on the process and the product.
- Tries to reduce the complexity of the context
- (Question – what research is out there that shows a transference of knowledge from the learning classroom in universities to the practical classroom in schools?)
- The federal government’s definition of good research leaves out methods that account for the complex nature of classrooms and teaching, which are foundational in teacher education research.
Central Features of Effects of Teacher Education Research
- “…experimental studies seek to identify causal relationships between conditions and events through the systematic study of planned modifications to the natural word (p. 1022).”
- Experimental studies lend themselves to generalizability.
- Does teacher certification matter? An example
- (Wondering – does preparation in a PDS impact student achievement once a candidate has taken a permanent position?)
- Research in this genre lends itself to larger scale studies, which would naturally lead to generalizability. However, the local context of teaching is so influential that it trumps such attempts and often times renders such attempts to apply universal findings worthless and irrelevant.
- Contributions and Limitations of “Effects of Teacher Education” Research
Introduction: Purpose and Intellectual Roots of Interpretive Research
- It encompasses the socio-cultural paradigm
- Embraces the complex context
- “…interpretive research seeks to perceive, describe, analyze, and interpret features of a specific situation or context, preserving its complexity and communicating the perspectives of the actual participants (p. 1025)”
- Interpretive research focuses on the local and keeps in tact the complexity of the context. It realizes that the results cannot be explained devoid of context.
Interpretive research implications may address the following areas:
- The improvement of practice. The improvement of program design.
- Pointing out features that resulted in success or failure in policy enactment as well as informing new policy by identifying features of certain contexts that will or should shape the policy formation.
- Complementing or guiding other research methods. The authors mention the area of “the effects of teacher education” as one common match.
- Shaping theory development
- Interpretive research takes into account social context.
- The roots of interpretive research stem back to Europe in the 19th Century, to Germany in particular. Interpretive research was to combat the experimental or correlational studies that were the dominant form of research at the time. The research recognizes the importance of social context and keeps such critical information in tact unlike experimental or correlational studies that deem such information irrelevant.
- “Collectively, in the 1980s, interpretive studies gave the filed an image of teaching as a complex intellectual endeavor that unfolds in an equally complex sociocultural context (p. 1025).”
- Central Features of Interpretive Research
Traditions include : (elements of qualitative research)
- Field notes
- Inductive reasoning through field notes
- Deductive reasoning through conceptual frameworks
- Understanding the social environment by looking at interactions through observation, video, or audio tape
- Document analysis
- Context matters so the research recognizes the context and situates the research within it rather than out of it
- Goal is particularizability rather than generalizability.
- To judge the quality of the research, researchers use:
- Credibility of the research
- The ability of the research to be applied (applicability)
- The ability of the research to be transferred (transferability)
- How dependable it is (dependability)
- Collaborative and longitudinal studies tend to carry more weight than those conducted by individuals.
- Interpretive studies have provided access and insight into understanding teacher candidate beliefs and knowledge.
- Because conceptual frameworks and research designs are not standard, transference is difficult and generalizability remains illusive.
Interpretative study design should include :
- Context and participants
- Researcher’s subjective presence
- Triangulation including member checks
- Disconfirming or negative cases
- Studies do get published without including those features. When that occurs, such publications weaken the clout of interpretive research in the world of quality and rigorous research.
- The scope of interpretive research has been limited to teacher candidates, teacher educators, and other personnel in the schools that deal with teacher preparation. The authors call for a wider scope that would include other stakeholders.
- Appropriating Tools for Teacher Literacy: An Example
- Contributions and Limitations of Interpretive Research
Introduction: Purpose and Intellectual Roots of Practitioner Research
- Includes: action research, self-study, participatory research, and teacher research.
- This type of research is very similar to interpretive research, but it differs in purpose and the role of the researcher.
- This research is conducted from the insider’s point of view.
- It subscribes to the belief that practitioners have important knowledge and insight gained from their perspective because they are entrenched in the work.
- Roots of this type of research stem back to Dewey and to the action research movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
- The purpose is to uncover complexities in the local context, but it is possible to have such findings be useful across contexts even though that was the intention of the research.
- Central Features of Practitioner Research
- Researcher wears the dual hat of researcher and practitioner.
- Research is embedded in the context of the practitioner.
- The questions usually result from cognitive dissonance achieved from a discrepancy between the espoused platform and the platform-in-use.
- It is intentional, deliberate, systematic research to understand practice through the eyes or perspective of the practitioner.
- To ensure rigor, practitioner research must offer itself to the scrutiny of others in the field. It must also be reported using detailed description of context, research question, and data collection methods and procedures.
- It can, and often times, does involve collaboration.
- Linda Valli and Jeremy Price: An Example of Practitioner Research
- It has direct benefits for the practitioner because it is relevant to her life.
- It can improve the practitioner’s self esteem and confidence.
- It offers collaborative opportunities across partnerships that were not previously open and available.
- Contributions and Limitations of Practitioner Research
Introduction: Purpose and Intellectual Roots
- This research recognizes the intimate relationship between theory development and the improvement of practice. Both are worked upon simultaneously. Designs are created about exemplar practices and then implemented in the field. They are then systematically studied and examine the impact on learning. Such designs inform the theory as they are put into practice.
- Central Features of Design Research
- Longitudinal and on-going
- Theoretically based – you are adding to the theoretical database
- The research is cyclical in nature and driven by theory. The cycles include design, enactment, analysis, and redesign.
- It is focused on the process.
- It allows refinement to happen within the research.
- It is usually multilayered.
- It has a commitment to improving practice locally while informing the broader field, which is similar to practitioner research.
- It is collaborative in nature, but outsiders conduct the research.
- It resembles lesson study.
- Documentation has many forms and includes multiple artifacts and methods.
- Data analysis is both ongoing and retrospective in that it occurs in the present and it examines what has happened in the past.
- The purpose of the ongoing analysis is to better the experience of the participants in the present.
- The Construction of Elementary Mathematics Project: An Example
- Theories can be tested in real settings, not just in laboratory or controlled settings.
- It is labor intensive and costly.
- It is suited for depth rather than breadth.
- Contributions and Limitations of Design Research
Challenges and Opportunities for Established, Emerging, and Blurred Genres
- The authors call for a blurring of genres. (Are we blurring interpretive/design/and practitioner?)
Responding to “Dangerous Times”
- The political air of the times is narrowing the conception of teaching and teacher education. The focus has been on test scores and evidence-based education. Learning is measured only through the achievement of a test score.
- There is a call for linking the knowledge learned during preparation to what is implemented during their first years of teaching.
- Complex Questions Call for Varied Methods
- Only by mixing methods can we capture the whole picture.
- Make sure that the methods and genres align with the research questions.
- Continue the use of multiple genres in teacher education research.
- Engage in collaborative research because it will be the only way to accomplish the large-scale research for which the political area is calling.
- Maintain rigor in research.
- Future Contributions for Genres of Teacher Education Research