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Article

Evidence-Based Practices in Special Schooling  

David Mitchell

Increasingly, around the world, educators are being expected to draw upon research-based evidence in planning, implementing, and evaluating their activities. Evidence-based strategies comprise clearly specified teaching methods and school-level factors that have been shown in controlled research to be effective in bringing about desired outcomes in a specified population of learners and under what conditions, in this case those with special educational needs/disabilities taught in special schooling, whether it be in separate schools or classrooms or in inclusive classrooms. Educators could, and should, be drawing upon the best available evidence as they plan, implement, and evaluate their teaching of such learners. Since around 2010 there has been a growing commitment to evidence-based education. This has been reflected in: 1. legislation: for example, the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act in the United States, which encourages the use of specific programs and practices that have been rigorously evaluated and defines strong, moderate, and promising levels of evidence for programs and practices; 2. the creation of centers specializing in gathering and disseminating evidence-based education policies and practices, brokering connections between policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers; and 3. a growing body of research into effective strategies, both in general and with respect to learners with special educational needs. Even so, in most countries there is a significant gap between what researchers have found and the educational policies and practices implemented by professionals. Moreover, some scholars criticize the emphasis on evidence-based education, particularly what they perceive to be the prominence given to quantitative or positivist research in general and to randomized controlled trials in particular. In putting evidence-based strategies into action, a five-step model could be employed. This involves identifying local needs, selecting relevant interventions, planning for implementation, implementing, and examining and reflecting on the interventions.

Article

Examining Challenges and Possibilities in the Objective of a Decolonized Education  

Marlon Lee Moncrieffe

This article examines challenges and possibilities in the objective of a decolonized education. Beginning with key referents to the term decolonized education, this article then provides a unique presentation of decolonizing the education of Eurocentric knowledge created through colonialism, empire, and racism. This process is shown as enacted through a decolonial consciousness framed by a historical, social, cultural, intellectual, emotional, and political disposition which takes action to reverse colonial knowledge. The article applies this decolonial consciousness in a review and analysis of the intergenerational educational experiences of migrant 20th-century African Caribbean people across the United Kingdom, and the ethnogenesis of their Black British children in the face of a White British-centric school system of epistemic inequality. The article provides a critical review on the challenges and possibilities in advocating for decolonized education for the greater inclusion of Black British experiences against national curriculum policy discourses given by U.K. government over the last few decades. The critical focal point of the article is on the aims and contents of the primary school history curriculum and the uncritical teaching and learning perspectives in the delivery of this curriculum. Challenges to decolonizing education and curriculum teaching and learning are presented, discussed, and analyzed through U.K. conservative/liberal democrat coalition government curriculum reforms of 2013 centered on restoring education and curriculum teaching and learning through an ethnic nationalist monocultural version of British national identity (whiteness) at the expense of multiculturalism (cultural diversity). This curriculum hierarchy of whiteness is contrasted by presentation and analysis of evidence-based research that decenters curriculum whiteness. Following this discussion is a review and analysis of debates and discussions in the U.K. Parliament held in 2020, forced by heightened public appeals for a decolonized curriculum. Finally, this article concludes by reviewing examples of continued professional development in teacher education and research that seeks to advance and extend decolonial praxis.

Article

Global Orientations, Local Challenges, and Promises in Initial Teacher Education  

Lily Orland-Barak and Evgenia Lavrenteva

The global move toward advanced strategic, constructivist, and sociocultural orientations to student teacher learning is reflected in the stated vision, mission, and curricula of local teacher education contexts worldwide. Six major themes in teacher education programs worldwide are integral to this vision: the establishment of school–community–university partnerships; bringing more of school practice focused on pupil learning into the preparation of future teachers; a shift from a focus on teaching and curriculum to a focus on learning and learners; the inclusion of activities that promote reflective practice and the development of the teacher-as-researcher; the design of academic and school spaces for fostering teacher learning that attends to social justice and inclusion; and the preparation of teacher educators and the provision of mentoring frameworks to support student teacher learning. Among the challenges shared across contexts is the need to strengthen partnerships in education, structure stable mentoring frameworks, adopt a more focused approach to student teacher placement, and better articulate expectations for student teaching. Notwithstanding these challenges, promising directions include the establishment of more meaningful links between universities, schools, and communities; developing programs that deal with authentic teacher preparation through injury- and-research-informed clinical practice, and providing mentoring models that involve different community stakeholders.

Article

Heuristic Inquiry in Teacher Education  

Rochelle Fogelgarn

Teacher educators often encounter novice pre-service teachers who naively declare that their chief motivation for choosing a teacher training course is their passion for teaching children and young adults. Our challenge is to sustain that passion and transform it into effective pedagogical practice. As education is a profession with a crucially important affective dimension, preparing pre-service teachers for the rigors of daily teaching requires more than facilitating the acquisition of pedagogical technique and strategy. Heuristic inquiry is a methodological approach that affords teachers-as-researchers the means to portray the lived experience of teaching so that both pre- and in-service teachers can identify with, and learn about, the holistic experience of teaching. In contrast to other methodologies, the heuristic researcher’s own experience regarding the phenomenon informs, guides, and interacts with the lived experience of the study participants. The multidimensional, multiperspectival, and multifaceted “story” of the lived experience of teaching which emerges from a disciplined heuristic inquiry provides pre-service teachers with a window through which they can vicariously experience the joys, challenges, and risks inherent in the work of teaching. Being more deeply aware of what to expect may better prepare novice teachers to remain within the profession with their initial passion intact. As a methodological approach, heuristics involves self-inquiry and dialogue with others in order to discover the meaning, significance, and implications of pertinent human experience. Knowledge crystallizes within the researcher in consequence of sensory input, perception, transpersonal communication, belief, and judgment. The individual and composite portrayals and the creatively synthesized essence of the phenomenon that evolve from heuristic exploration coalesce to give a powerful picture of human experience. When heuristic inquiry depicts the dedicated efforts of dynamic teachers who have managed to make a real and enduring impact on their students’ learning and transformative growth, insight is likely to emerge regarding how to ensure the vibrant sustenance of inspired, effective teaching.

Article

High Leverage Practices in Elementary Inclusive Education  

Lawrence J. Maheady and Angela L. Patti

Teacher preparation programs are undergoing a shift from knowledge-based to practice-based, meaning the emphasis is on what teacher candidates can do, rather than what they know. In light of this movement, high leverage practices (HLPs)—a set of core practices that educational experts agree all teachers should be able to do upon entering the teaching field—have been developed in several different educational areas (e.g., general education and special education). As experts develop sets of HLPs, they identify practices that (a) are researched based, (b) are often used by teachers during the school day, (c) can be applied across grade levels and subject areas, (d) are fundamental to student learning, and (e) can be taught, practiced, and developed to some degree of fluency by teachers entering the profession. The idea is that these practices can be used as a core curriculum for teacher preparation programs. While initial work with HLPs is promising, additional questions must be answered before moving forward. Institutions of higher education that choose to use HLPs to frame their teacher preparation programs need to determine (a) which HLPs to use, (b) how to integrate HLPs into the program, (c) how to assess teacher candidate fluency with HLPs, and (d) how to evaluate the effects of HLPs on P–12 students. As these questions are answered, further light can be shed on what truly makes a practice worthy of the designation “high leverage.”

Article

Historical Development of Lesson Study in Japan  

Kanako N. Kusanagi

Lesson study (jyugyo kenkyu) is an approach to professional development that originated in Japan 150 years ago. It was first introduced to the United States in the late 1990s and is now widely practiced in over 50 countries. Lesson study is often perceived as an effective form of professional development aiming to improve mathematics and science instruction, motivated by the high performances of Japanese students as evaluated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, lesson study is more than a model for professional development. Lesson study has developed dynamically over time, accommodating educational contexts and the needs of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. Nowadays, lesson study is used as an approach to lesson analysis, curriculum development, practice-oriented research, demonstration lessons, and various forms and levels of professional development. Lesson study continues to be practiced in the early 21st century as the practice is socially constructed and context-dependent; thus, lesson study is flexible in adapting to the local system. This flexibility and adaptability make it difficult to grasp the comprehensive picture of lesson study. Understanding the unique Japanese educational contexts that have supported lesson study is essential for foreign practitioners and researchers of lesson study as the lack of the necessary supporting conditions often poses challenges for implementing lesson study abroad. Lesson study continues to exist in the early 21st century as it has been facilitated by sociocultural norms in a Japanese educational context and has built upon the professional traditions of Japanese teachers. The focus is on discussing the sociocultural contexts that have supported the dynamic development of lesson study since the late 19th century. For this purpose, “sociocultural” refers to the theoretical space of social relations and cultural practice (Dowling, 2009). For example, a collaborative school culture is not a fixed state or end-product but negotiated through the social relations of the school system that regulates the daily responsibilities, actions, and interactions among managers, teachers, and students around the shared goals. Lesson study has developed under the influence of various factors, including educational theories, approaches, and ideologies, both domestically and abroad. Lesson study is supported by a holistic approach in terms of many aspects such as student learning, teacher-initiated inquiry centered on student learning, the culture of collaboration in professional development, collaboration between teachers and researchers, personal, contextual, and narrative reflection on teaching experience, and flexibility in the learning system that works to address the needs of the educational issues of the time. Nonetheless, contesting forces have contributed to the diversification of lesson study: (a) policymakers’ efforts to standardize lessons and bottom-up initiatives of teachers to experiment with practice; (b) top-down efforts to institutionalize professional development and bottom-up efforts on the part of teachers to work together to realize their educational ideals; and (c) scientific investigation by researchers and narrative, descriptive and subjective reflections on practice by teachers.

Article

The History of the National Writing Project  

Anne Elrod Whitney and Yamil Sarraga-Lopez

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a network of professional development sites focusing on the improvement of writing across schools and communities. Its origins as the Bay Area Writing Project led to a professional development model of teachers teaching teachers, a concept that hinges upon recognition of teachers’ knowledge and their capacity to become leaders within their professional community. In the ensuing years, with early financial support from the US government in the form of an initial grant and an eventual direct federal line item, the NWP expanded from one location to over 200 local sites across the USA’s 50 states and territories as well as international sites. These US and international sites, created in partnership with local universities or colleges, offer localized support to teachers of writing. The project’s model involves an intensive summer institute in which teachers spend their time writing, reading, and sharing their knowledge about writing practices and teaching. While its focus is on the teaching of writing across all levels and disciplines, the project has become a model example of a professional learning and development network. As such, the NWP has created a legacy in teacher learning and development that many within the field of teacher professional development wish to emulate. An examination of this history, highlighting the project’s beginnings within the Bay Area Writing Project and its eventual expansion, speaks to the vision that has driven its success.

Article

Indigenous Teacher Education in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand  

Celia Haig-Brown and Te Kawehau Hoskins

Indigenous teacher education has proven to be a powerful influence in the resurgence of Indigenous cultures and languages globally. In Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand, while there are numerous distinctions between the countries in size, linguistic and cultural diversity, and the histories of Indigenous peoples and colonization, an Indigenous commitment to schooling has shaped long-term and recent aspirations in both contexts. Within Canada, the proliferation of Indigenous teacher education programs is a direct result of a 1972 landmark national policy document Indian Control of Indian Education. This document written by Indigenous leaders in response to the Canadian government was the culmination of a decades-long, relentless commitment to creating the best possible schooling systems for Indigenous students within the provinces and territories. In 2015, despite some significant gains, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada completed its work articulating Calls to Action that reinforce the original recommendations, particularly the focus on Indigenous control of education. In the Aotearoa New Zealand context, the establishment of Māori language schooling pathways and Māori medium teacher education programs has been made possible by activism focused on the recognition of Indigenous-Māori rights to language and culture guaranteed by the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Forms of constitutional recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi mean that New Zealand endorses a social policy of biculturalism. From the 1970s and 1980s, responses to exclusionary and racist colonial policies and practices have led to the creation of teacher education programs in both Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand transforming universities and schools and establishing spaces of Indigenous authority, activism and expertise. While the pace of change varies radically from place to place and from institution to institution, and the specific contexts of the two countries differ in important ways, the innumerable Indigenous graduates of the programs make ongoing contributions to Indigenizing, decolonizing, and educating Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike. The growth and strengthening of an Indigenous education sector have led to significant policy and curriculum reforms across the education systems and to ongoing engagement in critique, advocacy, research, and practice. Throughout their development, Indigenous leadership and control of the programs remain the immediate and long-range goals.

Article

In-Service Teacher Training for Inclusion  

Chris Forlin and Kuen Fung Sin

Following the UNESCO initial statement in 1994 that inclusive schools were the most effective way to counter discriminatory approaches and attitudes toward students with a disability, international legislation and policy has evolved to challenge exclusionary practices and focus attention on equal opportunities for all learners. Inclusion in education is now accepted as a basic right and the foundation for a fairer and equal society. In opposition to earlier dual systems of regular and special education, inclusive education presents a changed paradigm in the way that learners with diverse needs are educated. Specifically, generalist teachers are now required to be able to cater to the needs of the most diverse student populations both academically and socially within regular classrooms. In most regions, there has been a rather slow and lagging change in teacher preparation to support these new developments. It is frequently documented that new graduates and in-service teachers are not well prepared for managing inclusive classrooms and understanding differences among students. Many teachers will say that they require more professional learning opportunities about inclusive education than they currently receive. When teachers are appropriately trained, have positive attitudes toward including students with diverse abilities, and have access to appropriate resources and support, there are many good practices that become evident. Conversely, inadequate teacher education and a lack of suitable resources often inhibit teachers from developing the appropriate beliefs or attitudes necessary for becoming inclusive practitioners. As the demand for better training of teachers about the inclusion of students with diverse abilities increases, the question that arises is what constitutes best-practice professional learning for upskilling teachers about inclusive education? While a variety of existing practices ranging from in-school support to system-wide approaches are employed globally, identifying which to use must be grounded in the context and specific needs of individual teachers and schools. This article provides a review of the range of models of whole-school methods, including focusing on teacher competencies, developing school and university links, engaging in collaborative scholarship, and establishing professional learning communities. System support is also examined, as this is critical to effective training. The Hong Kong model is cited as a good example of a collaborative government system/university partnership toward upskilling teachers about inclusive education. This model provides a realistic approach to addressing this issue when a longitudinal plan has been implemented to upskill regular class teachers in inclusive education, using initially an off-site training program followed by a school-based whole-school approach that may be of interest to many other systems. Consideration is also given to the training needs of education assistants who work in inclusive classrooms and their roles in supporting students. The importance of lifelong professional learning should underpin decisions regarding what model or approach to adopt, as student and teacher needs will undoubtedly change over time.

Article

Interdisciplinary Professional Partnerships  

Poi Kee Low

With the growing diversity of professions working in schools, interdisciplinary partnership and collaboration are growing quickly the world over. Apart from traditional teaching and learning concerns, awareness of children and youth mental health issues and socio-emotional wellbeing, grew readily since the 2000s. Rising in tandem with this trend is the number of psychologists, social workers, and counselors joining educators to support children and young persons in schools. Challenges such as misconception of roles, differing perceptions as well as cross-disciplinary misunderstanding threaten to prevent concerned professionals in working collaborative to help children and young persons in need. Fortunately, this aspect of interdisciplinary partnership in schools gains the much-needed attention in research from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas. Models and frameworks suggesting best practices for interdisciplinary collaboration emerged in school psychology, counseling and social work literature. Also growing in tandem is research in methods of measurement and evaluation of such collaboration as well as studies on pre-service professional training on interdisciplinary collaborative skills in the related disciplines.

Article

Leadership Practices and Managerial Accountability in Italy  

Angelo Paletta, Christopher Bezzina, and Genc Alimehmeti

The changes that are affecting public education imply the need to incorporate into principal’s leadership practices two opposing forces: on the one hand, the accountability systems, which require responsibility for centrally managed achievement testing, compliance with standard procedures of self-evaluation, planning teaching improvement, and reporting of the results; and on the other hand, the expectations that come from within the school, namely those of teachers, students, families, and other stakeholders. This presents the challenge of coproducing authentic learning (problem solving, soft skills, civic knowledge, and citizenship) that is not easily measurable and therefore difficult to bring to light, rationalize, systematize, and report. Principals react differently to the demands of centralized policy-making initiatives. Some see them as opportunities for growth and only formally adopt them, whereas others entrench themselves into particular practices aimed at focusing on the immediate, on being conservative and minimizing risk taking and setting less ambitious goals that can take their schools forward. Managerial accountability can end up “colonizing” the organizations (and those who lead them), with the consequence that time and attention is devoted to what is being measured or observed by the central administrative systems. The “colonized” leaders develop or bend their managerial practices primarily in response to the expectations of accountability systems. On the opposite side, accountability systems can produce the effect of “decoupling”: the actual activities are separated from the rituals of accountability requested by the central or local government. In this case, school principals conform only formally to the demands of accountability systems. Other school leaders can capture opportunities from an accountability system, integrating it into a comprehensive management approach that balances opposing requests and organizational principles into a “systemic” model. Thus, the accountability practices in the field of education introduced in Italy can leave both a positive or negative impact on the way school principals lead their organizations. Studying the impact that the introduction of such policies can have on individuals as a result of the way leaders execute such directives are deemed important as they shed light on the link between policy and practice, and help us gain deeper insights into the so-called theory and practice divide. The move toward greater forms of accountability presents an ideal opportunity for policy makers and educational leaders working at different levels to appreciate the importance of systemic leadership and engage in a discourse that enlightens its value to school improvement initiatives. Rather than focusing on the self, on merely following directives and working independently, the school principal that is able to understand how things and people are connected and can come together to transform their schools can make a difference to school development and school improvement. Bringing policy makers and implementers together can help in understanding the realities faced by educators at the school level, the former often oblivious to the challenges educators face on a day-to-day basis.

Article

Leadership That Bridges Arts and Social-Emotional Learning  

Marco A. Nava, Imelda L. Nava, and Jan Kirsch

Over the last 40 years, due to the combination of cuts to school and district budgets and an overemphasis on standardized testing, arts instruction has been severely cut back in public schools. Minority and low-income students are the ones most negatively impacted, as the schools they attend generally have lower standardized test scores. A study, Arts and Social-Emotional Learning (ASEL), provided training for 44 elementary school administrators serving high-needs students. Through a theoretical framework of social-emotional and brain-based learning, participating administrators received 40 hours of professional development that supported them in creating safe classroom learning environments to foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration. The research may provide insights to assist school and district leaders to provide all students with equitable access to the arts and social-emotional learning.

Article

Lifelong Learning  

Stephen Billett

The concepts of lifelong learning and lifelong education are related to but different from each other. A corrective is required, as public and governmental discourses often mention lifelong learning when referring to lifelong education and these distinct concepts are frequently conflated. It is important, therefore, to make clear delineations between them as they are not consonant, but distinct and interdependent. Lifelong learning is advanced as being a personal fact, that is, learning and development that arises from and is secured by individuals through their experiencing in diverse ways and through activities and interactions in distinct settings (e.g., workplaces, community, and educational) across their lives. Lifelong education is an institutional fact, that is, its goals, concepts, and experiences arise from and are projected by the social world. In schooled societies, experiences in educational institutions and programs are privileged and sometimes seen as encompassing all the worthwhile learning that can occur. However, what shapes and directs that learning is premised upon individuals’ readiness (i.e., what they already know, can do, and value) and their mediation of what they experience. Also, what constitutes lifelong education needs extending beyond the provision of taught courses offered through educational institutions to include educative experiences far more broadly. That is, it should include the educative experiences afforded by the communities and work practices in which adults participate and should engage in the activities and interactions through which they learn. These include experiences in which adults engage interpersonally and those that are more distant and indirect, such as through engaging with text, social media, and other sources of information. So, both concepts are important, as is the interdependence between them. However, without clarity about their distinctiveness and elaboration of these two concepts, they may well remain misunderstood and limited in their explanatory power and their interdependencies not fully elaborated. Identifying these can enhance the utility in guiding the provisions of educative experiences required to support effective learning. Given the range of circumstances and means through which learning and development occurs across adults’ working lives, accounting for the range of educative experiences and how they can support and sustain that learning is important.

Article

Matching Performance Assessment to Teacher Capabilities: The Bridge Between Teacher Performance/Evaluation and Student Learning  

Robert Morris

America’s public educational system is under constant scrutiny concerning student performance on standardized tests. Some blame the teachers, others blame the students, and recently many have begun to blame the test. A clearer picture of the issues is important and by reviewing the traditional aspects for evaluating teachers and then analyzing how contemporary testing methods in today’s classrooms has evolved a clearer perspective can be accomplished. The advent of newer models and methods of teacher assessment that focus on the classroom performance of teachers and based on observable assessments, along with a more authentic measure of student capabilities, are central. Although many researchers praise this movement, others have found many pitfalls in the attempt to standardize performance assessments. Many critics advocate the use of performance assessments in the classroom but remain loyal to the multiple-choice assessment as the more reliable and valid measure for comparative standardized testing. All aspects of this debate are important however. Given the increasing usage of performance assessment in today’s classrooms, many believe and advocate the development of newer assessments to replace the more traditional assessments. Understanding the roles evaluation and assessment play in reforming teacher evaluation is vital. Different data sources, new social power relations, and new ways of thinking about teacher evaluation are all important. The link between these developments in teacher evaluation and school reform is hoped to bring about an increased focus on the most important resource for change: the best practices of current teachers.

Article

Mentoring Epistemologies Beyond Western Modalities  

Carol A. Mullen

Commitment to mentorship, while necessary to benefit mentoring parties, is insufficient to work with the complexities of contemporary educational settings, especially in pursuit of engagement and learning for all. Mentoring that makes a profound difference for all participants, worldwide, is oriented at the outset to call into question such organizational constraints as hegemony, hierarchy, and culture. Traditional versus alternative approaches to mentoring is a critical binary that can be differentiated in the abstract. However, context and culture are existing organizational realities for which mentoring forms, enactments, and activities (such as mentoring circles) either perpetuate the status quo or produce significant change. Thus, alternative mentoring approaches work within both the traditional view of mentoring and any alternative to it.

Article

Numeracy Across the Curriculum  

Merrilyn Goos and Kathy O'Sullivan

Numeracy is related to, but different from, mathematics. While mathematical development proceeds through increasing abstraction, numerate practice is instead firmly grounded in making sense of real-life contexts. Education systems around the world acknowledge the importance of numeracy as an essential goal of schooling, since poor numeracy skills are known to diminish an individual’s life chances and limit national prosperity and social development. Different manifestations of numeracy can be located along a continuum that distinguishes between numeracy as a technical skill needed for performing everyday tasks and numeracy as a social practice that underpins critical citizenship. In the school curriculum, there are also different ways of addressing students’ numeracy development; however, there is growing consensus that numeracy should be taught as an essential element of all subjects, that is, as “numeracy across the curriculum.” This process should not trivialize numeracy by representing it as basic arithmetic or simple calculation skills; instead, the numeracy capabilities that are genuinely needed for learning a curricular subject need to be rigorously identified and nurtured in students. Two strategies are usually recognized for achieving this goal: integrating mathematics with other areas of the curriculum or, alternatively, identifying the intrinsic numeracy demands and opportunities in disciplines other than mathematics. The former strategy is less feasible when both the curriculum and teacher preparation are organized around subject specialisms, thus inhibiting interdisciplinary collaboration between teachers. The latter strategy responds to curriculum designs that recognize numeracy as a cross-cutting competency to be developed in all subjects. For numeracy across the curriculum to become a reality in schools, teachers need to be provided with numeracy frameworks and models that align with the official curriculum, together with practical guidance for classroom implementation across year levels and subjects. This does not mean that all teachers need to become mathematics specialists; it does mean that teachers should be supported to see how a focus on numeracy can enhance the achievement of curriculum goals in the subjects they teach.

Article

Online Networks in Teacher Education  

Nick Kelly

Initial teacher education is increasingly happening online, both formally and informally, within networks that are commercial, institutional, governmental, and research-driven. These networks make use of the capabilities of the internet and related technology to better support teachers. The scholarship of teacher learning within online networks can be divided into four main strands: network design, outcomes from network participation, agency within the network of networks, and critical perspectives on online networks of teachers. Online networks are designed environments, and there are design decisions involved in developing different types of teacher network. Research into networked learning provides a common language for talking about these networks that allows for articulation of transferable design principles and comparison between networks. Some studies of networks of teachers are conducted with a focus upon the forms of social support that teachers provide for each other. These studies look to understand the role of online networks within the profession, and to contribute to growing and testing the base of theoretical knowledge about how teachers can be better supported through online networks. There is a growing strand of literature that focuses upon how teacher agency can be developed so that each teacher can take advantage of a world in which online networks are prevalent and can use them to flourish within the profession. Teachers can learn to develop their own professional learning network that makes use of existing online networks. While there is much optimism about the potential of online learning networks to support teachers and serve the profession, there are also perspectives that are critical of the widespread embrace of online networks by teachers and the way in which this development is changing the profession.

Article

Organizational Trust in Schools  

Megan Tschannen-Moran

Trust is increasingly recognized by scholars and practitioners alike as a vital element of high-functioning schools. Schools that cultivate high-trust environments are in a better position to accomplish the challenging task of educating a diverse group of students in a changing world. Trust supports schools’ effectiveness and persistence in reform efforts, as well as a culture of innovation and continuous learning. It is also a source of social and financial capital for schools. And most importantly, trust is closely related to student outcomes. Therefore, the study of trust is important because it can support these vital functions in schools. There are a number of conceptual and measurement issues, however, that make the study of organizational trust in schools a challenge. One of the ongoing challenges is how to best define trust, and how we might understand the characteristics trustors assess in making trust judgments. Making clear distinctions between the act of extending trust and being trustworthy is important and will help advance the study of trust relationships in schools. There are also issues with level of analysis, as trust as an organizational property may function differently than at the interpersonal level. Another challenge is the dynamic nature of organizational trust, which may change dramatically with a change in leadership or a major conflict between various factions of teachers. There are a number of promising directions for future research about organizational trust in schools. These include how to foster initial trust, how to sustain trust over time, and how to rebuild broken trust. It would also be useful to delve more deeply into the role trust plays in educator innovation and learning, and why trust seems to play such a potent role in creating the conditions for learning.

Article

Peer Tutoring and Cooperative Learning  

Keith J. Topping

Both peer tutoring and cooperative learning are types of peer assisted learning; they involve people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves by teaching. Peer tutoring usually involves pairs of students, one in the role of tutor and the other as tutee, with the more able or experienced member helping the other to learn material which is new to the tutor but not to the tutee. By contrast, cooperative learning is usually done in small groups of perhaps four students, often of mixed ability. The group works toward a consensus on a problem. Because it is easier to dominate or hide in a group, roles are often assigned to each group member. Earlier perspectives tended to use the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, perhaps with some consideration of Bandura and Dewey. Chi, King, and Graesser have been prominent in more recent work. However, a theoretical perspective is offered that integrates these elements with more practical issues. In general, both peer tutoring and cooperative learning “work”— in a wide range of curricular subjects and with a wide range of ages. Given the appropriate form of organization, cognitive gains ensue for both helpers and those who are helped. This is not the main research issue, which is exploring how and why these practices work, in order to improve effectiveness. There are several meta-analyses (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) which are relevant, and beyond this, key individual papers of specific importance are highlighted. Over the years, we have become wiser about some of the key issues. In peer tutoring, same-ability tutoring has appeared in recent years, sometimes reciprocal, and we need to know under what conditions it works. Cooperative learning has issues regarding the most effective roles for group members and how these integrate with student ability and personality. There has also been much recent work in online peer tutoring which raises different issues. The existing literature is well-developed since these are not new methods. Future research should include more tightly defined studies focusing on more minor variables of context and organization. Many teachers will say they use both peer tutoring and cooperative learning, but very often they overestimate how often anything like good practice takes place. Simply putting students together and hoping for the best will not do, although it might have mild effects. Teachers using these methods need to be clear about what organizational parameters are vital in their context with their type of peer assisted learning. These features then need to be maximized in practice and an eye must be kept on implementation fidelity throughout. Education administrators need to organize professional development for teachers which is thorough, including initial instruction and practice followed up by support and monitoring in the classroom.

Article

Philosophical Tenets of Action Research in Education  

Luis Sebastián Villacañas de Castro and Darío Luis Banegas

The juxtaposition of action and research conveys a sense of the richness and complexity of action research, yet it does not entirely translate its nuanced and sophisticated philosophy. In turn, an understanding of this philosophy is crucial for grasping action research’s radical originality. In this context at least, it may be more accurate to define action research by drawing on the term practice, even though it does not form part of the basic conceptual pair. Not only does practice make it easier for us to trace the constellation of philosophical influences behind the theory and practice of action research—from pragmatism to postmodernism, including Greek philosophy and Marxist and psychoanalytic schools of thought—but also to identify where these influences end and action research emerges as the bearer of a nontransferable view. Beyond this, at the heart of action research lies a structural affinity with singular social practices, which are its key ontological sites—that is, the context where action research in each case fills its epistemological and ethical dimensions with meaning. What kind of knowledge does action research aim to produce? What behaviors do action researchers engage in? Compared to other research paradigms in the social sciences—the field of education included—the specific quality of action research has to do with how its epistemological and ethical dimensions are shaped not from without but from within any given social practice. This is the key to its specific ecology. In action research, the epistemological and ethical realms do not stand beyond or above the situated social practices, with their values, principles of procedure, knowledges, and discourses, including their own literacies and modalities—in short, their own internal cultures. Action research conceives and presents itself as a rational and systematic way for members of the different social practices to build and rebuild their own epistemologies and ethics precisely by drawing on, and selecting from, their own internal cultures. How does this ecological perspective translate itself in education? Education is one of the key areas in which action research is generally applied, together with welfare and healthcare. Yet apart from the specific use of action research by educators, action research carries within itself a specific educational philosophy (and a political philosophy as well) which underlies its application, regardless of the specific social practice in which it takes place. In the same way that action research is politically democratic, educationally speaking action research is participatory, meaning that learning, improvement, or development can only be realized through a self-determining process in which people act and research freely upon and among themselves. This is precisely what action research facilitates in the different social practices. Action research is always educational, whether one develops it in education, welfare, or healthcare. As a result, action research has contributed a clear-cut pedagogical model that some critical educators have already imported to their own educational institutions and practices: youth participatory action research.