Connecting Theory and Practice?

A discussion about Praxis-related Criteria for Examinations Tasks and Degree Projects in Teacher Education

In: Examining Praxis

In this chapter we present ideas about points of departure, relevance, and usefulness related to degree projects in Teacher Education programmes at the University of Gothenburg2. The idea about relevance and usefulness is related to methodology and basic assumptions in action research, and to the discussion about differences between academic and practice criteria and demands. We also want to highlight the possibility that degree projects can produce a new form of knowledge. This knowledge is built upon insights from practice which might have the same status as academic knowledge, using praxis as a relevant concept. Results from two different studies will be presented and reflected upon:

1) The degree project as a bridge or a barrier between theory and practice? This study is based upon a group of 15 upper secondary school teachers of Religious Education that have been followed during their first years of working as teachers. Thereby, the shift from theory to practice, from subordination to responsibility, is a centre of attention in the project. The focus is on interviews conducted a few months after the group had finished their teacher education. The newly graduated teachers were then asked about their views of the degree project. The analysis focuses on usefulness, responsibility and purpose of the degree project, as the informants have experienced them. The breach between the academy/theory and practice is made visible through the study.

2) Using Praxis-related criteria. An examination task with a very strong academic perspective in the final semester in teacher education takes on a more practice relevant form. The change is inspired by basic assumptions in action research and was called the SKUT-project. An analysis of the change reveals empowerment, inquiry culture and reflection as the criteria come more from practice than from academia.