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Ruth Berkowitz, Aidyn Iachini, Hadass Moore, Gordon Capp, Ron Avi Astor, Ronald Pitner, and Rami Benbenishty
Educational practitioners and researchers have increasingly recognized the importance of the context in which learning occurs, particularly the influence of school climate on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes. School climate is based on the subjective experiences of school life for students, staff members, school leaders, parents, and the entire school community. A school’s climate reflects its norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures. A large body of evidence connects a positive school climate to improvements in children’s learning and healthy development in school. A positive school climate is also an essential component within comprehensive school improvement processes. Nonetheless, the divergence and disagreement in defining and measuring school climate in the literature are evident. There is a major interest in school climate improvement and school climate policy. However, the policy context that supports school climate varies considerably across the United States and internationally. Clarification regarding the dimensions of school climate and continued research on how a positive school climate contributes to both school and student outcomes remain important.
Diana Gonçalves Vidal and André Paulilo
Over the past several decades, scholars have focused special attention on the relationship between schooling and culture. The first forays focused on curriculum matters, trying to understand how educational policies affected the selection of content and its dissemination in schools. More recently, the concept of school culture has emerged as a frame for researchers, thanks to its ability to problematize how teachers and pupils experience school in terms of time and space. Placing these individuals in the center of the schooling process, the concept of school culture enables scholars to create a more comprehensive analysis of what happens inside classrooms and schoolyards. This tool offers an opportunity for researchers and teachers to debate the merits of tradition and innovation in education, pay attention to material culture as a part of school practices, and consider school community as a social actor. The concept has become commonplace in the academic production in many areas, such as educational sociology, history of education, educational anthropology, philosophy of education, and educational psychology.
Jennifer Bethune and Jen Gilbert
School ethnography is a qualitative research method through which the researcher immerses herself in the life of the school, usually for an extended period, and through observation, interviews, and analyses of artifacts and documents explores questions about life in school. The school ethnographer gathers data in the form of fieldnotes, interviews, images of school life, and texts that are part of the school and continually analyses all of this data in order to discover or produce meaning from the patterns that emerge: the routines that shape school life, for instance, and the disturbances that upend these patterns. Finally, the researcher creates a written product. The school ethnography, as a product of research, often emulates the research process by immersing the reader in the life of the school and by making transparent the challenges and delights of the research.
By drawing on social theories that seek to understand systems of domination and oppression, school ethnographies can expose how inequalities circulate through the everyday life of schools, affecting students’ and teachers’ experiences and shaping policy and curriculum. Many school ethnographies highlight the positionality of the researcher as not-quite insider and not-quite outsider as a way to foreground the ways that power relations shape research in schools, influencing all stages of the research process, including the selection of a site, the researcher’s behavior in the field, the kinds of data that are recorded as fieldnotes, the approach to analysis, and the writerly decisions that shape the final product. Through this recursive and reflexive approach to research, school ethnographers lay the groundwork for social change that is grounded in a comprehensive, detailed, and complex portrait of life in the school.
Paulina Contreras, Eduardo Santa Cruz G., Jenny Assaél, and Andrea Valdivia
In Chile, ethnographic studies of schools started 30 years ago. At the time, most of the educational research in Latin America was done through quantitative methodologies, which didn’t show school processes in their proper contexts. In this scenario, a group of Latin-American educational researchers came together to develop a critical qualitative research network, in which Chile adopted the form of the first school ethnography research team in the country. From that, a new means of research was developed, aimed towards understanding everyday life in schools, which was what the “black box” quantitative research was unable to see. This innovation allowed these ethnographers to understand schools as a singular and complex reality. They took up a Latin American critical-historical epistemological approach, understanding that schools require a thick description, historically contextualized, that also considers the structures that determine a school’s singularity.
Chilean school ethnographies in the last 30 years have focused on the ways in which concrete social relationships take place in situated historical contexts, from the dictatorship of the 1980s to current neoliberal educational policy. They have allowed the visualization of the effects that more general political, economic, and social transformations have had in the schools’ daily organization and practices. In this trajectory, there have been different approaches to educational policy; some take on a critical perspective and others aim to inform and influence policy. School ethnography has addressed a variety of topics, from school failure in its beginnings, to youth culture, civic engagement, ethnicity, learning and development, and gender and educational policy. This diversity, however, has a common interest: the subordinated or excluded cultural forms and subjectivities, which are the consequence of power relationships and normative structures that are reproduced in schools.
William T. Pink
From a comprehensive analysis of the extant educational literature on school change, it is evident that two activities are essential for the successful reform of schools in the United States. While the focus in this article will be on the programmatic shifts implemented in U.S. schools, the danger of exporting these same failed programs to other countries also will be noted. The first requirement is a systematic critique of the major school reform strategies that have been employed since the 1960s (e.g., the Effective Schools model, standardized testing and school accountability, the standards movement, privatization of schools, charter schools, and virtual/cyber schools). The major conclusion of this critique is that each of these reform strategies has done little to alter the connection between schooling and their production of labor for the maintenance of Western capitalism: beginning in the early 1970s an increasingly strong case has been made that the design and goal of U.S. schooling has been driven by the need to produce an endless supply of differentiated workers to sustain the U.S. economy. Moreover, while both equality and equity have entered the conversations about school reform during this period, it becomes evident that the relative position of both poor students and students of color, with respect to their more affluent White peers, has remained at best unchanged.
The second essential requirement is the exploration of an alternative vision for school reform that is grounded in a perspective of equity, both in schools and in the society. Beginning with the question “What would schools look like, and what would be the role of the teacher in a school that was committed to maximizing equity?” such an alternative vision is built on the concept of developing broadly informed students able to play both a thoughtful and active role in shaping the society in which they live, rather than be trained to fit into a society shaped by the interests of capital. From this exploration of the literature emerges a new role for both schools and teachers that repositions schooling as an incubator for social change, with equity as a primary goal. Also addressed is the importance of inequitable economic and public policies that work to systematically inhibit student learning. A key element in forging a successful transition to schools functioning as incubators for reform is the ability of preservice teacher preparation programs to graduate new teachers capable of doing this intellectual work, and for current classroom teachers to engage in professional development to achieve the same end What is clear from a reading of this literature is that without this re-visioning and subsequent reform of schooling, together with a reform of key public policies, we must face the high probability of the rapid implosion of the public school system and the inevitable escalation of class warfare in the United States.
Gordon Capp, Hadass Moore, Ronald Pitner, Aidyn Iachini, Ruth Berkowitz, Ron Avi Astor, and Rami Benbenishty
School violence can be understood as any behavior that is intended to harm other people at schools or near school grounds. This may include bullying and victimization, or more severe forms of violence involving weapons. To respond effectively to school violence, school personnel and leaders must understand the influences on their schools that come from individuals, the surrounding community, and cultural and political spheres. Careful and ongoing assessment of the needs of any given school is also a prerequisite to effective intervention. The severity of violence, the exact location of violent acts, and how different groups on a school campus experience violence are all key details to understanding and measuring problems. With this information, schools are then able to choose intervention programs that will utilize a whole-school approach. Sometimes, existing Evidence Based Programs can address the needs of a particular school and surrounding community. Other times, schools need to either modify existing interventions or create their own to address the particular forms of violence that exist in their schools and communities.
Antonia Candela and Gabriela Naranjo
There are several different ways of understanding ethnography. On one extreme there are studies that use certain “ethnographic techniques” for practice observation, and on the other, there is the assumption that it is a complex theoretical-methodological framework that implies an ideological, political, and sociocultural approach, in order to describe the perspective of the participants. A third perspective seeks to broaden the understanding of the complex construction of scientific knowledge in the classroom. Surveys can unearth a clear tension between the etic and emic approaches, each one related to the theoretical-methodological allegiances of their researchers which can be modified somewhat through their findings. A future inquiry into the complex and heterogeneous contexts of Latin American classrooms can suggest a way to bridge macro with micro contexts of different socioeconomic and cultural and political conditions. Other growing topics that could be developed more thoroughly in the future are, for example, the multimodality of communication processes within the classroom, and studies on scientific education from an intercultural perspective, particularly considering the debt we have with the 50 million indigenous people in our region in taking into account their cultural perspectives and contributions to knowledge.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Most Anglophone curriculum scholars who have participated in, and chronicled, the reconceptualization of their field since the late 1960s would acknowledge the generativity of Joseph Schwab’s landmark 1969 text, The Practical: A Language for Curriculum, in which he argues persuasively that one facet of effective deliberation is “the anticipatory generation of alternatives.” A corollary of this assertion is that the speculative imagination is no less significant for curriculum inquiry than the historical imagination. Schwab reasons that “effective decision . . . requires that there be available to practical deliberation the greatest possible number and fresh diversity of alternative solutions to problems” and, for this reason, the literature and media known generically as SF (an initialization that encompasses science fiction/fantasy/fabulation among many others) are essential resources for the anticipatory generation of global curriculum visions. From its earliest archetypes, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), which depicted the creation of monstrous life and thereby both created and critiqued an enduring myth of modern industrial society, SF has consistently demonstrated that imagined and material worlds are always already so entwined that they cannot be understood in isolation. Similarly, in 21st-century technoculture, bioethical debates over the status of emergent citizens/subjects, such as embryonic stem cells or “brain dead” patients, challenge ideas about what counts as life or death, while epidemics and their attendant panics conflate the management of borders, disease vectors, and agriculture trade with speculative fantasies about invader species and zombie plagues. Through its exemplifications of the arts of anticipation, SF exercises the speculative imagination and offers critical conceptual tools for understanding and negotiating the milieux of contemporary curriculum theorizing and decision-making.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
The effective operation of a school unit consists of various factors, the most critical of which is leadership, as it ensures a proper working environment for the operational functioning of the school. Indeed, an effective leader can inspire vision and promote educational policy in the interests of the school and other stakeholders. This leadership role in schools is undertaken by head teachers, who are called to take action as supervisors of the school’s human resources, in parallel with their purely administrative work. In order for school leaders to achieve this, however, they should be adequately trained so as to be competent in undertaking the arduous task of leading a school unit. Consequently, in order for school leaders to successfully meet the requirements of their daunting tasks, in other words achieve the best possible results with the least sacrifices and effort, they must possess all necessary knowledge and aptitudes.
For this reason, the staffing of the school units in any country (and hence in Greece) with capable school leaders should be the top priority of the state while measures should be taken to ensure that the processes for selecting school leaders and for their professional development remain objective and systematic, if the country intends to implement an educational policy in an efficient and effective way. Taking into account the fact that the school leader is not born but becomes, it is mandatory that a system of selection and development of school head teachers must be institutionalized.
Education, broadly defined, is cultural transmission. It is the process or set of processes by which each new generation of human beings acquires and builds upon the skills, knowledge, beliefs, values, and lore of the culture into which they are born. Through all but the most recent speck of human history, education was always the responsibility of those being educated. Children come into the world biologically prepared to educate themselves through observing the culture around them and incorporating what they see into their play. Research in hunter-gatherer cultures shows that children in those cultures became educated through their own self-directed exploration and play. In modern cultures, self-directed education is pursued by children in families that adopt the homeschooling approach commonly called “unschooling” and by children enrolled in democratic schools, where they are in charge of their own education. Follow-up studies of “graduates” of unschooling and democratic schooling reveal that this approach to education can be highly effective, in today’s word, if children are provided with an adequate environment for self-education—an environment in which they can interact freely with others across a broad range of ages, can experience first-hand what is most valued in the culture, and can play with, and thereby experiment with, the primary tools of the culture.
The challenge of providing education that is inclusive and seen as equitable for all children is one that has exercised policy makers and education professionals in most countries throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. International agreements such as UNESCO’s 1990 Jomtien Declaration and 1994 Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education were instrumental in promoting debate about the rights of children who were denied access to an appropriate schooling and who, in some instances, had no opportunity to obtain any formal education. The Education for All Goals, which were used to prioritize the development of universal primary education, and more recently the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Education Goals, which reiterated a commitment to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (Goal 4), have increased the focus upon developing inclusive education. This has encouraged governments around the world to re-examine the ways in which they provide schooling for their children and young people. With such a plethora of initiatives, agreements, and advice, it is only to be expected that most national administrations have felt it necessary to respond and to demonstrate that they are taking action towards improving educational opportunities for all. However, the relationship between policy and practice is complex; and in some instances, the development of legislation has failed to provide increased equity in the manner that was intended. This article considers two distinctly different routes towards achieving inclusive education and discusses those factors that have either supported or inhibited success. In drawing upon examples from current developments in India, it additionally proposes that researchers who conduct investigations in international contexts should invest time in understanding underlying policy and cultural and historical factors that may impact upon the ways in which we interpret meaning from data.
Jane Jones and Viv Ellis
Development is a keyword in the vocabulary of teacher education research. Keywords are high-frequency words and phrases that while bringing people together in conversation are nonetheless sites of significant contestation in the field. At its most basic level, in the phrase “teacher development,” development can refer either to the development of the teacher (personal-professional formation) or to the development of the practice (teaching). Adopting descriptive categories from literacy research to delineate “simple” and “complex” views on the underlying questions of development, it becomes clear that, within such a dichotomous construction, “simple” approaches are insufficient either to describe or to plan for becoming a teacher and experiencing growth in professional practice. Underpinning these “simple” and “complex” views in the research on teacher education, divergent perspectives on formation (e.g., the “natural born teacher” vs. becoming through struggling with an identity) and learning (e.g., high-intensity training in “moves” vs. complex trajectories of participation in social practices and the growth of critical reflexivity). Thus, in the research literature, it is possible to discern critical-humanistic and also techno-rationalist clusters of meaning: optimistic yet expansive understandings of learning and change alongside well-intentioned oversimplifications of inherently contingent and uncertain situations. Navigating these clusters is consequential for how the work of teaching and of educating teachers can be understood. Indeed, the vocabulary of teacher education research needs to be examined much more closely so that, by interrogating keywords such as development, new spaces for a more critical deliberation of becoming a teacher and for more transformative practices of both teaching and teacher education can be stimulated.
David Kaufman and Alice Ireland
Simulations provide opportunities to extend and enhance the practice, feedback, and assessment provided during teacher education. A simulation is a simplified but accurate, valid, and dynamic model of reality. A simulation allows users to encounter problem situations, test decisions and actions, experience the results, and modify behavior cost-effectively and without risking harm. Simulations may or may not be implemented using digital technologies but increasingly take advantage of them to provide more realism, flexibility, access, and detailed feedback. Simulations have many advantages for learning and practice, including the ability to repeat scenarios with specific learning objectives, practice for longer periods than are available in real life, use trial and error, experience rare or risky situations, and measure outcomes with validated scoring systems. For skills development, a simulation’s outcome measures, combined with debriefing and reflection, serve as feedback for a formative assessment cycle of repeated performance practice and improvement.
Simulations are becoming more common in preservice teacher education for skills such as lesson planning and implementation, classroom management, ethical practice, and teaching students with varying learning needs. Preservice teachers can move from theory into action, with more practice time and variety than would be available in limited live practicum sessions and without negatively affecting vulnerable students. While simulations are widely accepted in medical and health education, examples in teacher education have often been research prototypes used in experimental settings. These prototypes and newer commercial examples demonstrate the potential of simulations as a tool for both preservice and in-service teacher education. However, cost, simulation limitations, and lack of rigorous evidence as to their effectiveness has slowed their widespread adoption.
Rene Suša and Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti
Social cartography is a method for qualitative research in education. It has been used mostly in comparative and international education, but it has wider applications. It originated from the body of work of Rolland Paulston, who outlined its main conceptual premises and methodological propositions. Unlike other cartographic practices that are mostly concerned with mapping of physical space, social cartography was developed with the purpose of providing a research tool that is capable of mapping relations between and within various epistemic communities and discursive and interpretative frameworks. The practice of social cartography seeks to challenge the positivist and objectivist imperative for singular, “authentic” knowledge and to disrupt the universalizing and totalizing claims of dominant perspectives and frameworks. It does so by mapping the complex and overlapping relations between different discursive and epistemic communities and by situating them in a broader discursive field. Post-representational approaches to social cartography emphasize the agentic properties of maps. These approaches work both on and with the mapmaker and the map reader in ways that seek to trouble and interrupt usual investments in meaning-making and epistemic and discursive privilege.
Laura Sokal and Jennifer Katz
Inclusive classrooms provide new opportunities for group membership and creation of effective learning environments. In order to facilitate the success of inclusion as an approach and philosophy, it is important that all class members as well as their teachers develop the skills to understand one another, and to communicate and work together effectively. Social emotional learning (SEL) is aimed at developing these skills and is generally defined to involve processes by which individuals learn to understand and moderate their own feelings, understand the feelings of others, communicate, resolve conflicts effectively, respect others, and develop healthy relationships. These skills are important to both children with disabilities and to those without, in terms of overall social development, perceptions of belonging, and promotion of overall mental wellness, as well as mitigation of the development of mental illness. Research suggests that SEL programming has the potential to effectively enhance children’s academic, social, and relational outcomes. Moreover, teachers who teach SEL in their classrooms have also demonstrated positive outcomes. Despite these encouraging findings, implementation of SEL has been hampered by some limitations, including the lack of a consistent definition—a limitation that in turn affects research findings; lack of teacher education in SEL, which erodes confidence in the fidelity of implementation; and concerns that current SEL programs are not sensitive to cultural differences in communities. Together, the strengths and limitations of SEL illuminate several policy implications regarding the most advantageous ways for SEL to contribute to the success of inclusion in classrooms and schools.
Aspa Baroutsis, Barbara Comber, and Annette Woods
Society is constituted by both historical and spatial elements; however, education research, policy, and practice often subordinates the spatial in preference for the temporal. In what is often referred to as the “spatial turn,” more recently education researchers have acknowledged spatial concepts to facilitate understandings and inform debates about identity, belonging, social justice, differentiation, policy, race, mobility, globalization, and even digital and new communication modes, amongst many others. Social geographers understand place as more than a dot on a map, instead focusing on the sociocultural and sociomaterial aspects of spaces. Space and place are core elements of social geography. Schools are comprised of architectural, material, performative, relational, social, or discursive spaces, all of which are socially constructed. Schools and education contexts, as social spaces and places, produce and reproduce modes of social interactions and social practices while also mediating the relational and pedagogical practices that operate within. Pedagogical spaces are also about the exercise of power—a spatial governmentality to regulate behavior. Yet pedagogy can focus on place-based and place-conscious practices that highlight the connectedness between people and their non-human world. A focus on the sociospatial in education research is able to foreground inequalities, differences, and power relations that are able to speak to policies and practices. As such, in this field there is often a focus is on spatial justice, where inequalities based on location, mobility, poverty, or indigeneity are analyzed using spatial understandings of socioeconomic or political characteristics. This brings together connections between place and space in a powerful combination around justice, equity, and critical thinking.
Community-based educational programs (CBEPs) have been recommended as a successful strategy for improving students’ results, family involvement, and community and social cohesion. However, research has shown that not all CBEPs generate the same results. An analysis of the social impact of community-based educational programs enables us to identify programs that achieve better social results and provide evidence of the extent to which these results contribute to improving citizens’ lives. To this end, this study describes the social impact of social improvements achieved as a consequence of implementing community-based educational programs informed by research and how those improvements contribute to addressing existing societal challenges and goals (such as EU2020 targets and Sustainable Development Goals).
Social inclusion is a well-meaning concept with something of a chequered history. Its beginnings were in the attempt by France to find a way of dealing with the social dislocation associated with transitioning from an agrarian to an urban society. The view promulgated was that some people were being pushed to the margins and thereby excluded in this process. From these origins the term was picked up and deployed in Europe, the United Kingdom, and other countries seeking to find ways of including people deemed excluded from participation in society as a result of social dislocation. Where the difficulties have arisen with the term is in conceptualizing where the “causation” resides—in individuals and their alleged deficiencies; or in the way societies are organized and structured that produce situations of inequality in the first place, where some people remain on the periphery. Where the former interpretation is adopted, the policy attempts that follow are reparative and designed to try and mend the bonds that bind people to society, and which are seen as having been disrupted. The attempt is to try and help those who are excluded to transgress the exclusionary boundaries holding them back. In the second interpretation, the focus is upon the way in which power is deployed in producing exclusionary social structures. Envisaging how structural impediments operate, as well as doing something about it, has been much more problematic than in the former case.
When applied to educational contexts, there have been some major policy initiatives in respect to social inclusion, around the following: (i) school-to-work transition programs that aim to make young people “work ready” and hence obviate their becoming disconnected from the economy—that is to say, through labor market initiatives; (ii) educational re-engagement programs designed to reconnect young people who have prematurely terminated their schooling through having “dropped out,” by putting them back into situations of learning that will lead them to further education or employment; and (iii) area-based interventions or initiatives that target broad-based forms of strategic social assistance (education, housing, health, welfare, employment) to whole neighborhoods and communities to assist them in rectifying protracted historical spatial forms of exclusion. There remain many tensions and controversies as to which approach to social inclusion is the most efficacious way of tackling social exclusion, and major research is still needed to provide a more sociologically informed approach to social inclusion.
Sara Tolbert, Paulina Grino, and Tenzin Sonam
Since the late 20th century, scholarship in science education has made considerable shifts from cognitive psychology and individual constructivism toward sociocultural theories of science education as frameworks for science teaching and learning. By and large, this scholarship has attended to the ways in which both doing and learning science are embedded within sociocultural contexts, whereby learners are enculturated into scientific practices through classroom-based or scientific learning communities, such as through an apprenticeship model. Still, science education theories and practice do not systematically take into account the experiences, interests, and concerns of marginalized student groups within science and science education. Critical sociocultural perspectives in science education take up issues and questions of how science education can better serve the interests of marginalized groups, while simultaneously creating spaces for marginalized groups to transform the sciences, and science education.
These shifts in science education scholarship have been accompanied by a similar shift in qualitative research methods. Research methods in science education are transitioning from a focus on positivistic content analysis of learners’ conceptions of core ideas in science, toward more robust qualitative methods—such as design experimentation, critical ethnography, and participatory research methods—that show how learners’ identities are constituted with the complex spaces of science classrooms, as well as within larger societal matrices of oppression. The focus of this article is to communicate these recent trends in sociocultural perspectives on science education theory, research, and practice.
Missy Morton and Annie Guerin
Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment support teachers in developing and implementing inclusive pedagogies. Sociocultural assessment approaches disregard impairment as an identity in itself, privileging the strengths and knowledge evident in observed interactions. A sociocultural approach to assessment recognizes the dynamic interaction between teaching, learning, and assessment, spread across people, places, and time. Where traditional forms of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment focus on a decontextualized individual, a sociocultural perspective pays close attention to contexts. Teachers’ practices, expectations, and understandings of learning and diversity form a key part of the contexts.
In culturally responsive paradigms, learning is recognized as sociocultural—being informed through interactions with others. All students are recognized and valued as people who gain experiences and knowledge across many contexts. Multiple perspectives are valued as shared understandings and constructions of learning are developed in response to observations and interactions in a community of learners—where students and teachers learn with and from each other. Teachers who recognize themselves as capable of teaching everyone in the class are more likely to recognize everyone as a learner, to think critically about their positioning and understanding of disability, and to plan teaching, learning, and assessment in inclusive ways of working.