The book you have in your hands is a compilation of international teacher education research studies aiming at describing current teaching practices with a lens on understanding teacher training and learning processes, the importance of critical reflection, and the use of new teaching procedures. A total of 13 countries are represented in this volume: Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, South-Africa, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States. From such diverse contexts of practice the text draws upon a variety of educational perspectives that can be of interest to graduate students, teachers, teacher educators and researchers.
The book comprises sixteen selected research papers that were originally presented at the 18th International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching (ISATT) Biennial Conference that took place in Salamanca, Spain, from July 3rd to July 7th, 2017. A double-blind review process and a scoring system indicated the editors the papers that were most eligible for a post-proceeding publication. Three of them are the extended version of the key-note speeches.
The works revolve around three major themes that shape the parts of the book: (1) Teachers’ professional learning and knowledge (Chapters 1 to 5); (2) Teacher beliefs and reflective thinking (Chapters 6 to 12); and (3) Innovative teaching procedures – e.g., video-games (Chapters 13 to 16). Most of them were conducted by applying qualitative research methods, using case studies, narrative inquiry and exploratory research to get a closer picture of how preservice and in-service teachers learn from their contexts of practice.
Part 1: Teacher Professional Learning and Knowledge
Teacher learning is often understood as the process of gaining expertise in the profession (Evans, 2000). In Chapter 1, Jean Clandinin and Jukka Husu address the learning of teacher educators as well as the ways teachers learn from diverse teacher educators. Up to date, they state that there is no clear knowledge base for accomplish professional learning and, thus, the scholarship of disruption could be a solution. Most of the professional learning that is referred to in their contribution comes during the practicum experience, and as such, it is considered essential requirement for preservice teacher training. In Chapter 2, Chiou-hui Chou offers an alternative view of the connections between university courses and field experiences in an attempt to bridge different learning sites and connect social spaces for EFL elementary student teachers. Chapter 3 takes a close look at teaching and teacher education conditions for learning and development in adverse times (e.g., economic crisis). Maria Flores reflects upon the concerns, specificities and challenges for teachers in the Iberian context (Portugal and Spain) knowing that these issues may apply to other contexts and regions.
In Chapter 4, Laura Sara Agrati addresses the integration of school subject matter knowledge, with the use of mediation devices. The ‘collaborative’ approach using multiple-case study design of two philosophy teachers give us a glance of visual representations and teacher’s competence. Similarly, Raquel Gómez et al. (Chapter 5) analyze the types of practical pedagogical knowledge that preservice teachers acquire during the practicum. The teaching support they get from student teacher peers and school mentors is considered crucial in the process of learning to teach.
Part 2: Teacher Beliefs and Reflective Thinking
Teachers beliefs and conceptions play a crucial role in understanding teacher’s work. Heather Braund and Eleftherios Soleas (Chapter 6) point out to the struggle between actions and beliefs, both in Preservice Teachers and in-service teachers, and highlight how the use of cognitive and metacognitive skills (e.g., self-regulation) facilitates teachers’ decision making processes to make sense of their practice.
In a similar vein, Chapter 7 describes case studies from 60 preservice teachers whose beliefs let position themselves – position theory – in relationship to English learners (ELs) from 3rd to 5th elementary school grades. Stefinee Pinnegar et al. determined three clear plotlines from the teachers’ positioning: Positive, pleasant and progressive that had implications to the students’ social and cultural conditions.
Leah Li Echiverri and Keith Lane in Chapter 8 conducted a survey to non-native English speaking graduate students regarding their attitudes to learning both English and content in a research methodology course. Findings revealed that attitudes had a strong and positive effect to ESL student satisfaction and perceived learning.
In Chapter 9, Samuel Ouma Oyoo and Nkopodi Nkopodi present an exploratory study about linguistic understanding of scientific terms for South African High School learners. Main results show that they experienced difficulties with meaning of everyday words presented in science context.
In a more integrated vision, teacher beliefs – along with thoughts, procedures and actions – are considered as part of reflective thinking, a substantial metacognitive skill that leads to understand and change practices. The concept of emancipatory teaching practices comes to the front in post-colonial contexts of teacher development in Chapter 10. Stephen Geofroy et al. delve into the idea that critical reflection encourages teachers’ thinking about their practice and about understanding their profession. Teachers must take an active role in their own professional growth, both in expanding their knowledge, interrogating theory and practice, and in the ability to feel part of a demanding community of educators to enhance their practice.
Chapter 11 further describes the complexity of teachers’ reflections by analyzing pedagogical confrontations (PC): events or interactions of teaching which invite to critically examine practice. Based on participants’ descriptions and responses Wendy Moran, Robyn Brandenburg and Sharon M. McDonough highlight the importance of professional roles, relationships and the changing nature of universities and teacher education. PC might be considered as a lens to new understanding of teacher educators’ work.
Finally, reflection may be guided by the supervising role of mentor teachers. Lily Orland-Barak and Ella Mazor portray in Chapter 12 the encounter between two cultures (Arab and Jewish) through mentoring conversations and interviews. Combining divergent social values in teacher training strategies allow to glimpse latent and unknown conceptions both for preservice teachers and educational researchers.
Part 3: Innovative Teaching Procedures
The third theme brings together a series of works that promote the use of innovative teaching procedures and active methodologies in classroom. It is relevant in nowadays Teacher Education to count on examples of good innovative practices capable of promoting inclusive pedagogies. Through data collection techniques such as note taking, photography, videos, reflective discussion and focus group, Hafdís Guðjónsdóttir, Edda Óskarsdóttir and Jóhanna Karlsdóttir present a research study in Chapter 13 that illustrates how teachers might organize their subjects to address diversity in classroom. On the other hand, Michael Cavanagh in Chapter 14 used smartphones technology to video-record five-minute excerpts of preservice teachers’ lessons and gave the opportunity to comment them and upload to a website. From the site, supervising teachers and university advisors could engage in meaningful interactions by reading, adding and reacting to comments. The research assumes a collaborative perspective involving Preservice Teachers, supervising teachers of schools and university tutors. incorporating annotations from different perspectives to stimulate reflection, provides good results.
In Brian Mundy’s work (Chapter 15) a praxis innovative model of education is developed. The educators and the preservice teachers build upon initial conceptions, evaluate their progress, and immerse in an ongoing process of reflection through storytelling. The relationship between stories and living praxis are explored and suggest a process of narrative inquiry that can be used in tertiary education.
Chapter 16 explores pedagogy undergraduate students’ attitudes towards collaborative learning by using videogames. Martín-del-Pozo Verónica Basilotta Gómez-Pablos and Ana García-Valcárcel argue that the use of video games in educational settings nowadays is heavily dependent on teachers’ attitudes towards them. Major findings from this study indicate that they are likely to implement innovative practices using video games in the future.
Overall, the research results and conclusions contained in this book shed light on alternative ways to (re)think Teacher Education. The collaborative networks between universities and schools, the training programs in the practicum, the multiple teachers’ identities, and the reflective and supervisory processes involved, let us to devise – and better comprehend – the complexities of educational situations in nowadays teaching.
The editors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of the book.