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Practitioner Research in Teacher Education

Theory and Best Practices

Edited By Issa M. Saleh and Myint Swe Khine

Over the past decade there has been increased interest in teachers’ investigation of their own practice in their classrooms. Practitioner research is not a new concept in education and many teachers have attempted to enact and study their own practices with the view of improving teaching effectiveness. However, the findings of many of these studies are often not treated seriously by education scholars and policymakers, and not disseminated to others. In fact, the research process is perceived more as a professional development exercise for teachers to improve upon their own practices. Despite these criticisms, there is growing support for getting teachers to study their practices in the context of their own classrooms. This book has the potential of generating knowledge that not only informs and shapes teachers’ practices and professional development, but also makes the stakeholders aware of critical education issues. Distinct from action research, practitioner research provides the platform for teachers to try out ideas in practice as a means of improvement and of increasing knowledge about curriculum, teaching, and learning, and the ways of transforming them.


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79 CHAPTER 5 From Portrait to Practice Learning to research into learning and teaching Johanna F. Schwarz & Michael Schratz Abstract: This chapter presents a promising practitioner research approach initiated at the Department of Teacher Education and School Research at Innsbruck University. It first ex- plores the embedded assumptions or “deep structures” of schooling that prevent change in the school system and highlights specific beliefs which prevent teachers from aligning their prac- tice with their own articulated beliefs despite all well-intended efforts to foster new practice. New approaches to teacher education require to alter conventional ideas about the na- ture of knowledge itself and how it is acquired. In an innovative pilot model student teachers conduct research in a case study mode that focus on the learning processes of indi- vidual learners in close collaboration with teacher educators and supervising teachers. The paper outlines and evaluates how closely observing and shadowing individual learners that represent a difference in gender, achievement level, behavior, or culture helps student teach- ers focus more distinctly on the learner, when designing instruction. It further investigates to which extent the insights gained by the students’ portraits of the learners support the devel- opment of educational (research) literacy, of inquiry as a stance, and, increased willingness to research their own practice. Searching for a new approach to learning to teach Similar to the situation in other countries, teacher education in Austria is mod- eled along the apprenticeship paradigm. Students in teacher education programs proceed through a curricular corridor...

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