Ward, Nolen, & Horn 2011 Productive Friction in Student Teaching

Ward, C. J., Nolen, S. B., & Horn, I. S. (2011). Productive friction: How conflict in student teaching creates opportunities for learning at the boundary. International Journal of Educational Research, 50, 14-20.

Summary: The authors use case study research to illustrate the role and importance of productive friction in preservice teacher learning, particularly in the student teaching context. The authors contend that student teaching (in essence field work clinical experiences) create a necessary and important third space for preservice teacher learning. They illustrate how preservice teachers are successfully and unsuccessfully supported in their student teaching experience to make sense of tensions to create productive friction for learning. Essentially, conversations are essential to fostering productive friction in order to promote preservice teacher learning.  Preservice teacher learning was also most productive when the preservice teachers embraced the tension and were supported to reconcile the differences in the social worlds.

  • The authors define productive friction as “dissonance experienced by teacher candidates when two or more social worlds conflict that leads to more sophisticated practice” (p. 14).
  • Finding – “We argue that productive friction can be an important part of creating hybrid/boundary spaces where diverse expertise from different social worlds can come together to support candidates’ learning” (p. 14).
  • “If an individual does not experience conflict, dissonance, or tension, there is no opportunity for productive friction and no need to change one’s practice. Conversely if an individual experiences too great a conflict between two worlds without sufficient resources, there might be no reconciliation or coordination, and thus the friction, though present, would be unproductive” (p. 18). (MY THOUGHTS – This study and this particular quote illustrate the role of discomfort but not distress in learning).
  • “The cases presented here are consistent with the idea that friction can be productive in helping novice teachers develop their practice in ways that support student learning nd engagement. They further suggest that friction is productive when it occurs at the boundary of social worlds and when resources are available to help novices reconcile the values and practices of those worlds” (p. 19).