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Article

Teacher Education in Singapore  

Jason Loh and Guangwei Hu

Since the turn of this century, and especially in the past decade, Singapore has consistently done well in international benchmark studies, be it the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), or the International Baccalaureate diploma assessment. Singapore’s sterling performance in these different benchmark assessments has been widely attributed to the quality of its teaching force, which is, in turn, ascribed to the teacher education programs provided by its sole teacher education institution – the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Teacher education began during the country’s colonial past, but there was no designated provider of comprehensive training until teacher training was institutionalized in 1950, when the Teacher Training College was established. After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the institution’s capacity expanded rapidly as a teacher training department and later as a statutory board within the Ministry of Education. In 1991, to raise the stature of teacher education, the Teacher Training College was incorporated as an autonomous institute within the newly formed NTU. Due to the need to ensure the survival of a tiny island nation over the years, it has been imperative to educate the population for industry and development. In the process, tensions have arisen from: (a) the recruitment of huge numbers of teachers and the concomitant quality of their training, (b) collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and (c) the influence of educational research on theory and practice. In the third decade of the 21st century, with the stranglehold that neoliberalism has on many educational systems around the world, including Singapore, will NIE be able to prepare its future teachers to navigate and survive in such a climate, while continuing to strengthen its theory-practice nexus? With the dwindling of student numbers across all sectors and the accompanying reduced need for new teachers in the country, will NIE look beyond the shores of Singapore, internationalize its programs, and take on a leadership role in the region?

Article

Qualitative Research in Indigenous Education in Mexico  

Gabriela Czarny and Ruth Paradise

In Mexico, qualitative research in the field of indigenous education finds its roots in a strong national tradition of social anthropological research. This background provides a fundamental context for understanding current emphases in qualitative educational research being carried out in indigenous communities, and for recognizing the underlying nature of indigenist policies and schooling projects (known as “indigenism”) imposed by the state during the 20th century. Indigenous organizations and communities have both challenged and appropriated this research tradition and indigenist educational projects, bringing into play a discussion of the continuous state of inequality and injustice in postcolonial states. Among the central aspects that have contributed to the shift in native research processes are the professionalization of the field of study at the level of higher education and within different programs and institutions, although the majority of these programs are still oriented toward indigenous peoples by nonindigenous professionals. Within the qualitative research agenda proposed by native researchers at the end of the 20th century, indigenous peoples began to assume a central position in the suggested themes, needs, and methods of inquiry. In Mexico, this development was closely related to the ethnographic study of education through perspectives of research action, collaborative research, narratives, and testimonials, providing fertile ground for envisioning other ways to name, produce knowledge, describe problems, and propose solutions with respect to the lives of these communities and peoples.

Article

Action Research  

Eileen S. Johnson

Action research has become a common practice among educational administrators. The term “action research” was first coined by Kurt Lewin in the 1930s, although teachers and school administrators have long engaged in the process described by and formally named by Lewin. Alternatively known as practitioner research, self-study, action science, site-based inquiry, emancipatory praxis, etc., action research is essentially a collaborative, democratic, and participatory approach to systematic inquiry into a problem of practice within a local context. Action research has become prevalent in many fields and disciplines, including education, health sciences, nursing, social work, and anthropology. This prevalence can be understood in the way action research lends itself to action-based inquiry, participation, collaboration, and the development of solutions to problems of everyday practice in local contexts. In particular, action research has become commonplace in educational administration preparation programs due to its alignment and natural fit with the nature of education and the decision making and action planning necessary within local school contexts. Although there is not one prescribed way to engage in action research, and there are multiple approaches to action research, it generally follows a systematic and cyclical pattern of reflection, planning, action, observation, and data collection, evaluation that then repeats in an iterative and ongoing manner. The goal of action research is not to add to a general body of knowledge but, rather, to inform local practice, engage in professional learning, build a community practice, solve a problem or understand a process or phenomenon within a particular context, or empower participants to generate self-knowledge.

Article

Disciplinarity and Educational Research  

David Bridges

Inquiry is not honored as “research” unless it is marked by some kind of discipline in the sense of its systematic and sustained approach, the rigor of its methods, or perhaps its situated scholarship—its disciplined character. Historically and in the contemporary academy, such discipline has been differentiated and socially institutionalized in the form of disciplines—forms of knowledge distinguished (not always tidily) by their methods of inquiry, central concepts, and a body of scholarship. Interdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity, and transdisciplinarity presuppose disciplinarity, and if they are to stand as research, they require some kind of rigor or discipline. Education in itself is not a distinctive discipline in this sense; rather, it is a field of inquiry that draws on the wide range of disciplinary resources available in the academy including disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary approaches to its themes. At one stage educational research drew especially on the disciplines of history, philosophy, psychology, and sociology, though this formulation has varied internationally and has evolved over time as new disciplines have joined the traditional disciplines and these have at the same time fragmented and hybridized. These developments, among others, have led to notions of postdisciplinarity, but discipline in research is a condition both of discerning what is most deserving of belief and of making a “community of arguers” possible, however its particular forms evolve and expand.

Article

Interdisciplinary Expansion and the History of Education in Sweden  

Johannes Westberg

The field of the history of education in Sweden has distinct features, yet also shares common characteristics with the history of education in other countries. As elsewhere, it has developed from being a field mainly occupied by schoolmen in the early 20th century to a research field firmly entrenched in the humanities and social sciences from the 1960s and onward. Like in other countries, the topics and theoretical frameworks have multiplied, making the history of education into a broad field of research. There are, however, several features that stand out in an international context. Most important, the history of education in Sweden has expanded in terms of active researchers and output since the early 2000s due to the favorable conditions in Swedish higher education presented in this article. It has also never developed into a discipline of its own but instead has remained multidisciplinary, with a strong base in the disciplines of education and history. As a result, the history of education in Sweden has remained quite independent from the international field. While it is certainly possible to identify the impact of various international trends, including those of the new cultural history of education, the history of education in Sweden is marked by the disciplines that it is part of. From this follows that this national field is less determined by international associations, conferences and journals, and the so-called turns that one might identify in these. Instead, it is the Swedish context of educational research, Swedish curriculum theory, social history, economic history, history education, sociology of education, and child studies that provide the history of education in Sweden with a character of its own—that is, a field with research groups, conferences, workshops, and a journal that encompasses several research fields.