We begin this issue with an article from David Morris and John Trushell. They describe a small-scale empirical study grounded in teaching experience which draws upon two principal areas of research: psychological gender and attitudes towards programming and ICT (information and communications technology) in primary schools. Daniel J. Ayres explores implications for school- and university-based teacher educators in light of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) policy developments in England. His paper highlights the crucial roles that school-based mentors will be required to undertake as pre-service teacher education becomes increasingly school-led and heavily reliant on practical experience. Evgenia Theodotou reviews research literature related to intrinsic and extrinsic motivational theory, with particular focus on the concept of rewards. She discusses how this theoretical framework explains children’s attitudes to learning. Whilse the centrality of mentoring to successful outcomes in ITE in England is uncontroversial and widely discussed, there has been less research on peer mentoring. Elicia Lewis’s small-scale exploratory study addresses this shortfall by looking at whether peer mentoring in ITE can be mutually beneficial in developing each member’s subject knowledge and pedagogy.Pepita Torbrand’s action research intervention examined the use of questioning strategies in the classroom. Her study was conducted with an upper sixth-form psychology class at a west London further education college. The results showed that students reported experiencing increased learning due to underlying factors such as increased independent thinking, effective sharing of knowledge, and increased engagement, all resulting wholly or partly from the questioning strategy adopted. Margaret Etherington explores the extent to which teachers’ workload, family commitments and other external factors impact on the retention of MA participants. She argues that heavy job and family obligations are not necessarily predictors of failure to complete the course, and that personal values and aspirations can have a greater bearing on attaining the award than work/life balance.
Our guest writer is David Wray, Professor Emeritus at the University of Warwick. David taught in primary schools in the United Kingdom for ten years. He has served as President of the United Kingdom Reading Association, and edited its journal for eight years. He has published over 50 books, and over 150 chapters and articles, on aspects of literacy teaching and is best known for his work on developing teaching strategies to help students access the curriculum through literacy. His major publications include Extending literacy (Routledge), Developing children’s non-fiction writing (Scholastic), Literacy in the secondary school (Fulton) and Teaching literacy effectively (Routledge Falmer). More recently he has begun new research programmes exploring the importance and teaching of handwriting, renewing the concept of readability and evaluating the educational use of mobile learning devices. In his article David explores some of the background to this problem and reports an investigation into the self-perceived competence in writing of teachers in training. This number’s book reviews are provided by Cathy Miyata, Shearon Gordon,Tracey Trimmer-Platman and Grant King.
As always we hope that you enjoy the collection of articles in this issue. It is with great pleasure that we announce Professor Diane Mayer as our guest writer for the next (October 2014) edition of RiTE.
Gerry Czerniawski (2014) ‘Editorial’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 4(No.1), 3–3. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
University of East London
This paper describes a small-scale empirical study grounded in teaching experience which draws upon two principal areas of research: psychological gender and attitudes towards programming and ICT (information and communications technology) in primary schools. The sample group for this study comprised 24 Key Stage 2 pupils who undertook two computing tasks using applications that align with the current UK Primary Computing National Curriculum (DfE 2013a). All children completed a Children’s Sex Role Inventory (CSRI) questionnaire to determine their psychological gender, as well as a computer attitudes (CA) instrument to ascertain their views on computing and ICT. The children’s responses to both instruments were then tested for internal reliability. The pupil participants involved in this research undertook two tasks, which involved the use of programming software, Microsoft Windows LOGO (MWL), and a desktop publishing (DTP) program, Microsoft Publisher. Work samples were then graded to a set of criteria and awarded an overall mark. Although boys marginally outperformed girls overall, the difference between the means did not achieve significance. However, when Pearson product moment correlations were taken between the performances of boys’ means and girls’ means, respectively, across the programming and DTP tasks, they indicated different tendencies. The findings of this small-scale study are limited, but would appear to demonstrate that gender differences do exist in terms of performance across different applications.Keywords: computing; gender; ICT; programming
David Morris and John Trushell (2014) ‘Computer programming, ICT and gender in the classroom: a male-dominated domain or a female preserve?’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 4–9. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
David Morris and John Trushell
University of East London
This paper explores implications for school- and university-based teacher educators, in light of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) policy developments in England. Shulman’s (2005a, b) notion of professional signature pedagogy is presented and used as a framework with which to analyse the congruence between ITE policy and the needs of the teacher workforce. The analysis is presented using Schön’s (1987) reflective practicum of professional knowledge and learning as a lens through which to establish the needs of new professionals. The paper highlights the crucial roles that school-based mentors will be required to undertake as pre-service teacher education becomes increasingly school-led and heavily reliant on practical experience.Keywords: mentor development; professional knowledge; reflective practice; signature pedagogy; teacher training
Daniel J. Ayres (2014) ‘The role of practical experience: toward an ITE signature pedagogy ’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 10–16. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
University of East London
Rewards can reinforce and at the same time forestall young children’s willingness to learn. However, they are broadly used in the field of education, especially in early years settings, to stimulate children towards learning activities. This paper reviews the theoretical and research literature related to intrinsic and extrinsic motivational theory, with particular focus on the concept of rewards, discussing how this theoretical framework explains children’s learning and attitudes. It argues that rewards usually have a detrimental impact on young students’ learning and behaviour but in some cases can contribute beneficially to children’s willingness to learn.Keywords: early years education; extrinsic motivation; intrinsic motivation; learning process; rewards
Evgenia Theodotou (2014) ‘Early years education: are young students intrinsically or extrinsically motivated towards school activities? A discussion about the effects of rewards on young children’s learning’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 17–21. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
Metropolitan College, Athens, Greece
Whilst the centrality of mentoring to successful outcomes in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in England is uncontroversial and widely discussed, there has been less research on peer mentoring. Much of the literature that exists focuses on the role peer mentoring can play in helping tertiary students or beginning teachers to adjust to their new role and legitimise concerns (Draves & Koops 2011). However, there has been a dearth of research on the efficacy of peer mentoring in developing the subject knowledge and pedagogy of ITE students. This small-scale exploratory study looks at whether peer mentoring in ITE can be mutually beneficial in developing each member’s subject knowledge and pedagogy, where dyads are training to teach different age ranges. This cross-phased pairing aims to provide a liminal space where the gap between theory and practice is negotiated, and individual goals can be addressed.Keywords: cross-phase; peer mentoring; third space; virtual mentoring
Elicia Lewis (2014) ‘Considering cross-phase peer mentoring in ITE: what can each party bring to the table? ’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 22–27. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
University of East London
This action research intervention examined the use of questioning strategies in the classroom, introducing a rich ‘question-diet’ to promote increased learning, engagement and independent thinking. A qualitative approach was taken, using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to explore the meaning-making and personal experiences of students experiencing the intervention. The study was conducted with an upper sixth-form psychology class at a west London further education college. The results showed that students reported experiencing increased learning due to underlying factors such as increased independent thinking, effective sharing of knowledge, and increased engagement, all resulting wholly or partly from the questioning strategy adopted. This outcome points to the essential value of using a rich variety of questions, and the benefits of planning when and with which learner to use different question strategies. However, as the intervention was conducted on a relatively small class, there may have been issues with participant reactivity and demand characteristics. Effective methods to reduce bias in classroom action research interventions are outlined and discussed.
Keywords: action research; classroom interventions; collaborative learning; questioning strategies; Socratic questions
Pepita Torbrand (2014) ‘Action research – questioning techniques in the FE sector: a qualitative study’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 28–37. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
Oxford High School
A school-based master’s programme was provided for teachers at a comprehensive in the East End of London, UK. Two traditional barriers to doing an MA (cost and travelling time) were removed. The study explores the extent to which teachers’ workload, family commitments and other external factors impact on the retention of MA participants. It was found that heavy job and family obligations were not necessarily predictors of failure to complete the course, and that personal values and aspirations had a greater bearing on attaining the award than work/life balance. It emerged that the minority ethnic backgrounds of the teachers interviewed might well be a significant factor in their determination to attain a master’s degree.Keywords: ethnicity; master’s degree; retention; school-based MA
Margaret Etherington (2014) ‘Barriers and motivators to attaining a school-based MA in Education: a case study’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 38–42. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
University of East London
It might be thought that, in order to successfully teach a skill or process to others, teachers would need to be fairly competent in that process themselves, and fairly confident in their competence. There is evidence, however, that, in the case of the teaching of writing, this may not actually be true. This article explores some of the background to this problem and reports an investigation into the self-perceived competence in writing of teachers in training. It goes on to argue that, in the attributions these young teachers make about their success or failure in writing, there are important implications for the teaching and development of writing.
Keywords: teachers in training; teacher educators; attribution theory
David Wray (2014) ‘‘I was never much good at writing’: trainee teachers’ attributions in writing ’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol.4(No.1), 43–49. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
University of Warwick
This forward-thinking volume focuses on the lives, professional practices and visions of literacy teacher educators. These visions encompass all aspects of language, with a focus on critical social practice and multimodal forms of communication. This book, in particular, will appeal to literacy specialists, administrators, teachers, teacher educators and policy-makers. The foreword is by Susan Lytle, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. A well-known educator and researcher, a literacy teacher and teacher educator for almost 50 years, who has published widely on literacy and urban teacher education, Lytle summarises the book, stating, ‘The images of agentive teachers and teacher educators make palpable what it means to purposefully and systematically inquire into and learn from day-to-day practice in the light of different policies/politics and local contexts’ (p. xix).
The 23 authors have extensive experience in teaching and educational research, and represent a virtual who’s who of teacher education. Educators from Canada, the United States, England and Australia, from research-based and teaching-focused educational institutions and at different stages of their careers, have their views represented here. This provides a broad spectrum of opinions and insights into the current state and necessary future direction of literacy teacher education. The book is divided into two sections: the first emphasises current issues in teacher education, and the second emphasises literacy teacher educators’ practices. The chapters provide a unique richness in the sense that they homogenise both the nature of practice and the practical issues they seek to address.
Most of the 13 chapter essays contain an autobiography of the respective authors, outlining why they became literacy teacher educators and their ever-evolving notions of literacy and teaching as social practice and developing forms of communication. The reader can expect a personal overview of each author’s pedagogy, theory and research. Furthermore, the authors share much deeper aspects of their work, which go to the heart of teaching and learning, such as their vulnerabilities, challenges and concerns. Issues of prejudice; the limited knowledge and experience of student teachers in dealing with urban education; and narrow local policies are all addressed through personal experience. This is what distinguishes this text from others. In both sections, detailed accounts of how these educators grapple with critical literacies (eg social justice, equity, poverty), multiliteracies and multimodal communications (eg digital technologies, social media, students’ day-to-day lives), government initiatives (eg curriculum standards, accountability, reform) and the challenges of teaching in higher education (eg maintaining research, inquiry and community involvement) all work together to provide an in-depth understanding of the complex and demanding role of a literacy teacher educator.
The stories are compelling, the pedagogical suggestions are realistic and the struggles shared are honest. For example, American professor Kinloch describes how her upbringing in the segregated South influences her need to develop student teachers who will combat racism and segregation, while professors Ghiso and Campano make a case for their deep affiliation with social justice because of their histories with immigration. In the realm of pedagogy, British professor Marshall describes in detail how she and her co-workers use film, literature and technologies to encourage student teachers to move between modes of expression, despite the conservative views of their government which advises only the use of the traditional modes of reading and writing. In Walsh and Durrant’s chapter, ‘Multiliteracies: A slow movement in literaCy minor’, these professors from Australia outline several reasons why other literacy teacher educators may not be modelling the current practices that their student teachers require to be competent educators in the 21st century. They suggest their already ‘crowded tertiary curriculum’ and the mandates of the ‘National Curriculum’ under which they must operate do not allow for extra topics. These sorts of frustrations are echoed throughout the book.
The concluding chapter takes an interesting turn, as three of the five editors analyse the previous chapters as data for ‘salient issues and themes’ and present these as a form of ‘educational significance’. Some of the key themes listed include: clash with government initiatives; rethinking literacy in a digital age; and thoughtfulness and integrity about teaching and research. The editors conclude with a call for changes in literacy teacher education to accommodate the shifting landscape of literacy, but recognise that the authors in this volume have a ‘sense of hope’, confirming that with dedication, integrity and commitment, teaching for new era can be accomplished.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and gained much insight from it.
Reviewed by Cathy Miyata, Brock University, Ontario, and University of Toronto, Canada
Review by (Cathy Miyata) (2014) ‘Literacy teacher educators: preparing teachers for a changing world’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 4 (No.1), 50–54. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
Clare Kosnik, Jennifer Rowsell, Peter Williamson, Rob Simon and Clive Beck (eds.)
Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2013
Reviewed by Cathy Miyata
In three parts, over seven chapters, a succinct list of exploratory intentions is set out to inform the reader of what they are likely to encounter in the hope of broadening their professional thoughts and understandings having read the chapter. These notions are reviewed at the end of each chapter, recapitulating aspects of the teaching and learning that the reader should have acquired, understood and experienced. The reader will find this systematic approach to the presentation of theories and ideas an aid to building and deepening their understanding of the skills needed for proactive practice while also addressing their individual professional needs. It also offers invaluable support for beginning teachers as they manage their professional training, providing guidance that also facilitates the process of unfolding critical thinking, reflective practice and research skills. An attractive feature of the book is the presentation of a learning challenge, not only for the novice teacher, but also for the more experienced practitioner to revisit theory and pedagogy in order to adapt and improve the teaching and learning resources and strategies that they implement on a day-to-day basis in their own classroom.
In each chapter, the authors consider and fully develop the comprehensive topics in turn addressing the phases of each as well as the generic academic skills that the reader is likely to develop during their study. This allows for a logical flow in the way the key themes are structured. The core topics explored include developing pedagogy; assessment for learning; special educational needs (SEN) and behaviour; management and leadership. These are illustrated with real case studies of postgraduate students undertaking continuous professional development (CPD) activities. In each case, references to the relevant literature are examined and attributed to the academic skills being explored. For example, on pages 83 and 104 the recommended reading for ‘Behaviour Management’ is mentioned, encouraging readers to ‘Stop and Read’ and giving a brief summary of the importance and relevance of the listed material.
The authors use observations drawn essentially from their own teaching and learning experiences related to theories and pedagogy and how they can best be practically applied. This allows for a balanced approach to the reading and the development of reflective understanding, which adds to the reader’s experience by providing concrete examples and contextualising theory through extended case studies. It further sets out to provide a basis for the next stage in professional development, guiding specialists in the consideration and enhancement of their expertise, thus highlighting the importance of sustained learning and growth in their professional journey. An example is the uncovering of potential opportunities for leadership identified in specific approaches to teaching and learning and identifying emerging interests and expertise. These might include working with other educational agencies and professionals in and beyond the school, such as educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, educational welfare officers, youth workers, counsellors and advisers, (pp.130–2).
The book is predominantly aimed at those taking the master’s level qualification in teaching and learning, but I would recommend it particularly to all teachers considering an MA qualification as it will help to affirm and continue good habits. Having already achieved the MA in Teaching and Learning accreditation, I find constant critical reflection essential as it assists in the continual development of excellence in my personal practise and performance. As a significant milestone in one’s professional progress this book also encourages participants to be more proactive in making good decisions about their on-going learning needs. The practical advice explored within the chapters is presented in a supportive way which makes it a useful read for practising teachers wishing to re-explore useful pedagogy for reflective guidance and success in the classroom. Those practitioners who read this book may also wish to apply the themes explored here with a view to informing and possibly shaping the nature of CPD in their educational setting or classroom. Overall this book serves as a useful toolkit in helping teachers take control of their own development in teaching and learning.
Reviewed by Shearon Gordon, Dilkes Academy, Thurrock
Review by (Shearon Gordon) (2014) ‘Achieving your Masters in Teaching and Learning’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 4 (No.1), 50–54. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
Mary McAteer, Fiona Hallett, Lisa Murtagh and Gavin Turnbull
Exeter: Learning Matters, 2010
Reviewed by Shearon Gordon
Bremen: EHV, 2013
Reviewed by T. Trimmer-Platman
Although the book is not aimed at the specialist teacher of information technology (very few books are), it has much to offer the specialist teacher or trainee. In addition, leadership teams have begun to understand that the development of ICT within schools is a critical whole school issue, not only for teaching and learning but for efficient internal and external communication and administration. Chapters such as ‘ICT tools for professional development’, ‘ICT in assessment’, ‘Whole school approaches: integrating ICT across the curriculum’ and ‘Linking school with home use’ are likely to be of more relevance to senior leaders. The book is not written as a linear narrative but rather a collection of contributions by specialist educational researchers covering a diverse range of related discussions based around the benefits and transformational properties of digital technologies in the modern classroom. Whatever the readership, it is possible to find something that will stimulate your interest.
The question then is whether or not the book is a ‘practical introduction’ and whether it actually offers ‘practical advice and guidance, tried and tested examples’. In reality this is not a handbook or ‘how to’ guide to using ICT in the classroom; rather it is an informed discussion of the issues and opportunities that digital technologies offer and the altered dynamic of the classroom environment that these technologies introduce. This should not be taken as criticism, as it is not the function of a book like this to act as a training manual on how to use a computer, interactive whiteboard or camcorder. Indeed, the early chapters point out quite rightly that this is the function of in-service educational training (INSET) and continuing professional development (CPD) and is often overlooked, which is why the benefits of ICT have not been developed as they should.
What this book does extremely well is to provide a variety of concise research-led discussions into the benefits of various forms of digital technologies. To a student teacher or teacher wanting to adopt digital technologies the academic research underpinning the topic will be of interest, but you really want some practical ideas, signposting to resources, to be inspired, pointed in the right direction. Many of the chapters provide that motivation. I would, for example, highly recommend ‘ICT tools and applications’, ‘Using the interactive whiteboard to support dialogue in the whole class context ’ and ‘Teaching and learning with digital video production’. Even an ICT specialist who has been teaching and advising on the subject for 22 years found himself enthused and reflecting on new approaches and possibilities.
On the other hand, there are chapters that I found problematic. One of the fundamental attributes of good teaching is the ability to communicate one’s message at an appropriate level and language for the target audience. In computing we refer to high-level and low-level programming languages. A high-level language is one that resembles normal English and allows the inexperienced programmer to begin to write computer code. Low-level languages are those that are written closer to the machine code understood by the computer itself but which are inaccessible to all but the most experienced programmers. A few of the chapters in this book could be described as written in a low-level code often accessible only to those with a background in educational research, rather than in the language of the target audience.
Perhaps one of the drawbacks of a book such as this is that it tries to make itself accessible by providing concise overviews of given aspects of ICT. At times I found myself wondering where the counterarguments were or wanting a fuller exposition of the topic. In the otherwise excellent chapter ‘Using multi-play digital games and online virtual worlds in secondary school teaching’, for example, I felt that there was a lack of balance. The underlying research evidence and case studies demonstrating the benefits of virtual game-playing in the classroom were compelling. There was no mention, though, of the technical difficulties, costs and dangers of playing networked role-playing games. I read nothing about ethical considerations of playing violent ‘shoot ’em up’ games in an educational environment or the possible conflicts between the approach to computer games in school and parental viewpoints. On occasion I felt that there was need for more exploration of the practicalities and issues involved in implementing new approaches.
One might say that the unstated aim of a book such as this is to foster discussion and debate in the subject area. No two reviewers will ever agree entirely with what has been written and no book is ever going to satisfy everyone. As an experienced ICT specialist and, until recently, someone that led postgraduate initial teacher training programmes, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book as a valuable contribution to that debate and as a source of inspiration and ideas to anyone wanting to introduce or extend the use of digital technologies in their teaching.
Review by (Grant King) (2014) ‘Learning to teach using ICT in the secondary school. A companion to school experience, 3rd edition ’ Research in Teacher Education, Vol 4 (No.1), 50–54. Available at: www.uel.ac.uk/Schools/Cass/Research/Research in Teacher Education/Volume 4 No 1 April 2014
Marilyn Leask and Norbert Pachler (eds.)
Abingdon: Routledge, 2013
Reviewed by Grant King