Grossman, P. & McDonald, M. Back to the Future: Directions for Research in Teaching and Teacher Education
Grossman, P., & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future: Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal 45(1), 184-205.
- “Despite its roots in research on teaching, research in teacher education has developed in curious isolation both from mainstream research on teaching and from research on higher education (p. 185).”
- The preparation of teachers has typically involved preparation in the practice of teaching. The authors argue that preparation about relationships is essential and should also be included.
- Teacher education research needs to be connected to both research on teaching and organizational research. It is critical to understand how the organization of higher education impacts the preparation of teachers.
Still Dreaming of a Common Language
- “Despite its ubiquity, however, the field sorely lacks a commonly agreed upon definition of the features of an effective instructional explanation (p. 187).” (Is teaching about teacher explanation? If we believe in constructivist theory, then we would need to examine explanations from the students’ perspectives not from the teachers’.)
- We lack a common language for describing teaching practices, common mechanisms for conducting research to examine such practices, and common pedagogies in assisting novice teachers with understanding and learning those practices.
- Common factors are critical to success of the field, and they need to be identified.
- Relational research exists, and “Yet there is relatively little attention to the empirical research literature on how teachers establish pedagogical relationships with students and how they use these relationships to engage students in learning (p. 188).”
- The same need of a common language in subject-specific domains exists.
- (The question is then – why don’t we have a common language? Why can’t we agree? Is it that the research hasn’t been able to be duplicated? Is teaching that complex that common practices can’t exist? Is it that as researchers we want the glory of creating a new term to describe an old practice that seems more refined? Should our older definitions be more expanded to include aspects acquired from new research rather than finding the differences and then coining it as something new?)
- Interpretation slashes (destroys?) any agreed upon language that we currently do have.
- (Are there such things as core practices in teaching?)
From Pedagogies of Investigation to Pedagogies of Enactment
- Pre-service teachers experience ample opportunities to plan lessons and engage in reflection, but they have little opportunity to “…practice elements of interactive teaching in settings of reduced complexity (p. 190).” (Is it possible to isolate and still make the experience authentic? What would such a practice look like? If removed from context, which provides the complexity, will it still remain authentic? Mike Rose, 1999, agreed that such practices in physical therapy did reduce authenticity but he believed that students still developed the critical skills needed when placed in the complex situation (p.190).)
- Microteaching is as close as the field of education has come to giving students opportunities and feedback to refine specific, isolated skills.
- (The thing is, we aren’t dealing with lab rats here – our subjects are children. It isn’t ethical to use children as test subjects. It would be comparable to letting medical school students treat patients.)
- (It seems as though students abandon core components of instruction when classroom management isn’t intact, and it’s the management that makes teaching complex.)
From Independent Agencies to Situated Organizations
- Teaching does not occur in the absence of context; in fact it is embedded in multiple contexts, which create its complexity.
Three Contexts of Teacher Education
- They are national and state policies, institutional contexts, and local districts and labor markets.
- (Going back to best practices – why is it difficult to get mainstream acceptance and approval? Is it because we are battling practicing teachers who believe (battling teacher beliefs here) that because they can actually see the results of their practice in their classrooms, they are resistant to reform? Is it because, unlike other professions like the medical profession, education exists in the absence of competition? Doctors want to identify and utilize best practices in order to keep their business alive and thriving. Otherwise they are out of a job because their patients can choose to see another doctor. Teachers do not have that fear. They are protected and sheltered from the realities of a capitalistic society and therefore have the luxury to become sluggish, resistant, and even stagnant to change.)
- Teachers tend to teach in contexts similar to which they were prepared or to which they attended in high school.
Organizational Perspectives: The Case of Alternative Routes
- The classification of programs and the contexts in which they function is essential in the comparison of teacher education programs and the future of teacher educational research. Such a system could use the Carnegie classification system of higher educational institutions as a model.
- State policy impacts the design and implementation of alternative routes to teaching, which vary greatly across states. Such variation needs to be accounted for when conducting research on teacher education.
- Organizational theory could offer perspective on educational phenomenon.
- Should teacher preparation programs restructure organizationally in order to meet the demands of local labor markets? Compiling resources and have certification-specific institutions could be one way to accomplish such a task.
Building a Field
- “A common language can serve as one powerful tool in uniting a community of researchers and practitioners engaged in the improvement of teaching and teacher education (p. 198).”
- The field also needs common research tools.
- The authors are calling for more large-scale studies. Such studies will require collaboration within fields across grade levels and across fields of research.