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Reflections from teacher educators, student teachers and practice teachers on teacher knowledge in the areas of professional diversity, research & development and digital competencies


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Reflections from teacher educators, student teachers and practice teachers on teacher knowledge in the areas of professional diversity, research & development and digital competencies

Nielsen, Birgitte Lund; Lund, Jens H

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Nielsen, B. L., & Lund, J. H. (2021). Reflections from teacher educators, student teachers and practice teachers on teacher knowledge in the areas of professional diversity, research & development and digital competencies.

Paper presented at NERA 2021, Odense, Denmark.

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Reflections from teacher educators, student teachers and practice teachers on teacher

knowledge in the areas of professional

diversity, research & development and digital competencies

NERA 2021: Network 19, Teacher’s Work and Teacher Education

Birgitte Lund Nielsen BLN@VIA.dk & Jens Hansen Lund JE@VIA.dk

VIA University College, Aarhus, Denmark



§ Background about the three areas of competencies and the context of the Norwegian TEQ21 project

§ Background: Why the focus on stakeholder understandings

§ A typology of knowledge in teacher education & various paradigms

§ Findings from analysing reflections in survey and stakeholder interviews

§ Implications: Whose knowledge counts? Hope/democracy?


Background: The 3 areas of competencies

§ A pragmatic choice – central areas of transdisciplinary competencies in Norwegian teacher education examined in the TEQ21 project

§ Significant different understanding across research about transdisciplinary

teacher competencies in general and these areas specifically Smestad & Gillespie, 2020

§ Professional diversity competency

o About inclusion or teacher relational competence? Can refer to particular students (language, culture etc.) or to diversity among all students Smestad & Gillespie, 2020

§ Professional research & development competency

o Differences in how teacher educators understand research based teacher education

Brew & Saunders, 2020 . Research as content or as practitioner inquiries Munthe & Rogne, 2015)

§ Professional digital competency

o Best defined of the 3 areas at policy level. Including e.g. digital judgement, social media harassment etc., but often a reduced understanding in practice- as technical skills

Johannessen & Øgrim, 2020; Lillejord et al., 2018

§ Not well defined and inconsistencies. A need for more knowledge about how

the stakeholders understand these competencies - in particular STs, to be able

to support the new STs in making sense when meeting teacher education


Background: Stakeholders

§ Teacher educators (TEs), student teachers (STs) and practice teachers (PTs) can be expected to emphasise various types of knowledge when reflecting on teacher education Ben-Peretz, 2011; Puustinen et al., 2018

§ STs are known to have strong emotions – negative/positive - related to global theory McGarr et al., 2017

§ Tensions in the meeting between STs, TEs and PTs when referring to global theory Kalgraf & Lindhart, 2018

§ In stakeholder dialogues an expectation from PTs and STs that the TEs in particular contribute with global theory. Reference to theory can

however also be (negatively) experienced as as positioning of power

Kalgraf & Lindhart, 2018

§ Our hypothesis is that such tensions can be challenging but maybe also

fruitful Hatlevik og Havnes, 2017 if addressed in dialogue


Paradigms of Teacher Education

§ A range of conceptualizations since Zeichner (1983) discussed:“alternative paradigms of Teacher Education”

§ The question about whose knowledge and expertise counts in the

education of teachers (Zeichner et al., 2015) is basically a question about hope & democracy

§ One example is Menter et al., 2010, here freely after this:

o The effective teacher: An understanding primarily referring to standards, skills and summative data on results at student level

o The reflective teacher: An understanding primarily referring to value and theory-informed professional judgements.

o The enquiring teacher: An understanding primarily positioning the teachers as systematic inquiring in own practice – in collaboration with colleagues and researchers.

o The transformative teacher: An understanding primarily seeing the school -

and therefore also teacher education - as aimed for affecting, developing and

changing the wider society .


Research Questions

§ What kinds of understanding of professional diversity, research & development, and digital competencies are found in reflections from student teachers, teacher

educators and practice teachers?

§ In what ways do `knowledge´ appear in a knowledge-

typology analysis of these stakeholders’ reflections on

professional diversity, research & development, and

digital competencies ?


Translated from Lund & Nielsen, 2020, see also Nielsen & Lund, 2020

A previously developed typology with

dimensions of knowledge is used in the analyses



§ The research design is a mixed methods QUAL-quan design Creswell & Clark, 2018.

§ STs have in a survey answered the question: “What is relevant diversity [research & development; digital] competencies for teachers?

§ Group interviews with STs as well as TEs and PTs

§ Data from two cohorts of STs. The first cohort spring 2020, where also the interviews were made. The second cohort august 2020.

o For cohort 1, n=128, the answering % for the three items are 36% in professional diversity competence, 16% research & development competence and 20% about professional digital competence.

o The answering % for cohort 2 is respectively 52%, 33%, 48% (n=116).

§ The open reflections and the interviews were analysed thematically by two researchers developing and refining themes Braun & Clarke, 2006.

§ Analytical–matrix: Tripartition in particular tendencies (particular for each

of the areas of competencies), crosscutting tendencies, and contrasts


Student teachers reflections in open items in survey

§ Particular tendencies, Crosscutting tendencies and Contrasts

o What is relevant diversity [research & development; digital] competencies for teachers?

§ Professional diversity competencies

o Both teacher competencies in relation to diversity and the phenomenon diversity

o In particular diversity in language, culture, religion and ethnicity.

o Diversity in ethnicity, language, free-time activities. To plan for good

dialogues about diversity to support acceptance and respect across cultures etc.

o Dominant in the reflections is a reference to teachers’ didactical choices founded in humanistic values – to threat all students with respect, based on:

o Insight into different religions and creeds, human rights, culture and

inclusion, and the ability to create a good classroom environment


Particular tendencies

§ Professional research & development competencies

o Not the same distinction phenomenon and competence – no STs explicate how they understand “research”, but there are many reflections indicating implicit

understandings e.g. research is something external used by the teacher not something in the teacher’s everyday practice. Practitioner inquiries not mentioned.

o To have an overview of new research (about teaching, subject etc.) so you can plan for the best learning among students

o Many refer to research as pre-describing what you should do as a teacher o But, there are also examples where it is about a basic critical stance

o That you are critical towards your own work and learn by your mistakes

§ Professional digital competencies

o STs reflections about professional digital competencies contrast the other two areas by the homogeneity – the dominant reference to skills:

o …to use different digital resources to create variation …

o Knowing ups and downs concerning using digital tools. Knowing the students and

their strengths and weaknesses concerning digital tools


Croscutting tendencies and contrasts

§ Student learning and engagement is STs reflections

§ But some contrasts in the orientation in these reflections – in relation to diversity there is a strong orientation towards (secondary) socio-cultural

conditions, while reflections on digital competencies is oriented towards the (primary didactical Hiim & Hippe, 1997 ) pre-conditions in term of students’

knowledge and skills

§ Reference to difference teacher/students is seen across the reflections, but differences/contrasts in relation to how this is seen as a challenge

o Diversity: Teachers social background and language can be different from students o Digital: Different approach due primarily to age – the well-known claim about

students as digital natives

§ There are many examples where critical reflections from the same student about diversity in the society, and the role of research, is not mirrored is

likewise critical reflections on professional digital competency, BUT there are a few examples of ”transfer” of a critical stance, e.g. seeing research in a

critical light is followed by reference to digital harassment as a focus


Stakeholder reflections: Interviews

§ So - the STs are basing the reflections about the 3 areas of competencies at different reference grounds

§ The tendency is confirmed – and further elaborated analysing the interviews – and appears to be active also for TEs and PTs

§ Different competence areas appear to stimulate different epistemological orientations – you might even say epistemological tunnel vision (Berger &

Luckmann, 1966: relevance structures and zone of lucidity)

§ Furthermore, there is a contrast between stakeholder-groups e.g. related to the role of (new) theory in the reflections

o The TEs use global theoretical concepts like whiteness, institutional racism, intersectionality and heteronormativity as the starting point in their reflections while STs and PTs more refer to experiences and rich narratives from school practice (local empirical knowledge)

o BUT a TE actually use a narrative when reflecting about a school visit

o The TEs reflections furthermore differ by referring to the societal and political

situation in Norway:


Stakeholder reflections: Interviews (continued)

§ The theme “How research – teachers positioned as active or passive?”

from the survey – the tension between the teacher as primarily a

consumer of research or as a critically inquiring reflective practitioner - is further understood based on the interviews

§ The TEs refer more to the second position – but implicitly position STs as consumers for example when reflecting on STs being being uncritical to what is served

§ The STs think about themselves as novices (what they are) but the point is that this is followed by a passive consumer perspective concerning research that could be challenged (outcomes from undergraduate research are well-known)

§ The PTs do not show the same insecurity concerning research - BUT

other tensions appear to be active in the interplay between TEs and PTs, where PTs are positioned by the TEs as not giving themselves time for research (implicitly understood as research in the materiality of

research articles)


Conclusions and implications

§ Stakeholders refer to humanistic values when reflecting on professional diversity competence. Opposite, professional digital competence is mainly about an

effective teacher proficient in using specific tools.

§ Differences in relation to paradigms Menter et al. 2010 : the effective teacher, the reflective teacher, the enquiring teacher and the transformative teacher, also in reflections from the same ST.

§ Additional differences comparing STs, TEs and PTs. TEs use global theory while STs and PTs mainly refer to local evidence and experiences, but not only stakeholders, also arena appears to format reflections

§ A meta-perspective on ”Knowledge”, as being constructed etc., is only addressed when reflecting on R &D, and “research” is by all groups refl. implicitly/explicitly as research articles, not so much practitioner inquiries.

§ Looking forward this epistemological tunnel vision need to be further researched

§ A meta-perspective on “knowledge” in dialogues across stakeholder-groups -

addressing the various points of reference with curiosity and with perspectives



§ A meta-perspective on knowledge in dialogues between stakeholders in professional education?

§ Whose knowledge counts?

§ Hope/democracy?

§ Contact BLN@via.dk



§ Ben-Peretz , M. (2011). Teacher knowledge: What is it? How do we uncover it? What are its implications for schooling? Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 3-9.


§ Berger, PL, Luckmann, T (1966). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. Garden City, NY: Doubleday

§ Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101.

§ Brew, A. & Saunders, C. (2020). Making sense of research-based learning in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education 87, 102935.


§ Creswell, J.W. & Clark, V.L.P (2018). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Sage Publications.

§ Hatlevik, I.K.R. & Havnes, A. (2017). Perspektiver på læring i profesjonsutdanninger – frugtbare spenninger og meningsfulle sammenhenger. I S. Mausethagen & J.C.

Smeby (red). Kvalifisering til profesjonell yrkesutøvelse. Universitetsforlaget.

§ Hiim, H og Hippe, E. (1997). Læring gennem oplevelse, forståelse og handling. En studiebog i didaktik. Gyldendal.

§ Johannessen, M. & Øgrim, L. (2020). The role of multidisciplinarity in developing teachers’ professional digital competence. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education, 4(3), 72-89. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.3735

§ Kalgraf, S. & Lindhardt, E.M. (2018). Lærerutdannerens profesjonelle rolle i praksismøtet The professional role of the teacher educator in practice meeting. Nordic Studies in Education, 38(1), 67–81. https://doi.org/10.18261/ISSN.1891-5949-2018-01-06

§ Lillejord S., Børte K., Nesje K. & Ruud E. (2018). Learning and teaching with technology in higher education – a systematic review. Knowledge Centre for Education

§ Lund, J. H., & Nielsen, B. L. (2020). Viden i læreruddannelsen - en analysemodel. Studier i Læreruddannelse og Profession, 5(1), 135-156.


§ McGarr, O., O’Grady, E. & Guilfoyle, L. (2017). Exploring the theory-practice gap in initial teacher education: Moving beyond questions of relevance to issues of power and authority. Journal of Education for Teaching, 43(1), 48-60. https://doi.org/10.1080/02607476.2017.1256040

§ Menter, I. et al. (2010). Literature Review on Teacher Education in the 21st Century. The Scottish Government, Edinburgh, UK.

§ Munthe, E., & Haug, P. (2010). En integrert, profesjonsrett et og forskningsbaseret grunnskolelærerutdanning. Norsk Pedagogisk Tidsskrift, 94, 188-202.

§ Munthe, E., & Rogne, M. (2015). Research based teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 46, 17-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2014.10.006

§ Nielsen, B. L., & Lund, J. H. (2020). Different dimensions of knowledge in teacher education: towards a typification. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education, 4(3), 9-25. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.3722

§ Smestad, B. & Gillespie, A. (2020). Dimensions of teachers’ transdisciplinary competence based on a systematic review of three transdisciplinary areas. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education, 4(3), 117-138. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.3757

§ Utdanningsdirektoratet (2018). Rammeverk for lærerens profesjonsfaglige digitale kompetanse (PfDK). https://www.udir.no/kvalitet-og-



§ LULAB is an organizational and professional-pedagogical initiative supporting teacher educators and other actors in teacher education (student teachers and cooperative partners

Reflections from teacher educators, student teachers and practice teachers on teacher knowledge in the areas of professional diversity, research & development and

§ LULAB is an organizational and professional-pedagogical initiative supporting teacher educators and other actors in teacher education (student teachers and cooperative partners

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