Effective ITT / ITE

Teachers as researchers

Papers & recommended reading | Editorial reviews | Task for trainees

Professional development through collaborative curriculum planning in English and modern languages (pdf document)
Pomphrey, C. (2004) Language Learning Journal, 29, pg 12

The author describes a language education programme in which modern languages and English student teachers have to plan a language learning lesson collaboratively.

The process of planning and delivering such lessons enables student teachers to develop a more complete understanding of language and issues related to language teaching and learning. It also helps them explore the contribution of each subject area to pupils’ language education.

The author reports on what was learnt by the various subject specialists from their counterparts and how the experience has changed their attitudes and enhanced their practices as future language teachers.

Escaping from the treadmill: practitioner research and professional autonomy (pdf document)
Lamb, T., Simpson, M. (2003) Language Learning Journal, 28, pg 55-63

The article sets out to encourage the notion of the teacher as researcher, and illustrates the resultant sense of professional growth and satisfaction derived from the process even for a previously successful middle manager whose work carried official OfSTED endorsement. The paper is a result of the discussion between this head of a MFL school department and a HEI lecturer in education, and explores several pertinent themes: the teacher as learner and the need to continue the process; the development of the notion of action research beyond mere pursuit of a personal interest; design of an appropriate step-by-step process by which to conduct the research and, moreover, implement change; and choosing a focus which might effect a significant enhancement of the MFL learning process for pupils. There follows an in-depth exploration of the nature of professional autonomy and the liberating and re-invigorating contribution research activity can bring to the teacher-researcher

Second language teachers as second language classroom researchers (pdf document)
Macaro, E. (2003) Language Learning Journal, 27, pp 43-51

This article makes the case for MFL teacher involvement in research on the basis that enhanced activity and validity in this area is necessary to combat a) the UK's majority cultural groups' poor capacity to speak languages other than English and b) the imposition of poorly-researched policies by government agencies. The paper attempts to propose and define classroom-based research as an integrated part of the teaching process, whilst acknowledging there are factors including workload which may inhibit teacher involvement. Clear advice on choosing topics, assessing the quality of existing work in the field, explanation of key terms and methods, and detailed guidance on how the teacher might tackle example topics feature in this article, as does publishing the research. The concluding remarks constitute an exhortation to undertake such professionally developmental activity on the basis that: it provides the opportunity to look below the surface of what pupils produce, and consider rather the learning process; the techniques for carrying it out have been de-mystified; and the study can be integral rather than extra to the teacher's workload.

The professional development of modern languages teachers (pdf document)
Green, S. (1996) Language Learning Journal, 14, pp 75-79

The aim of this article is to explore ways by which teachers might continue their professional development (CPD) via career mapping and action research. The need to have an idea from an early stage about the next step on the career map is emphasised, and having this plan is equated with successful, purposeful teaching by fulfilled professionals; it is important that the next step is not necessarily a step up. Action research is recommended as a means of effecting change in one's own teaching environment, change to be brought about by greater understanding of major challenges to learning, and a large section of this article is devoted to how and why this might be undertaken. Commitment to the notion of CPD in whatever form it takes is proposed as a professional responsibility both to one's own career prospects and to colleagues and pupils in the school. The concluding remarks are an exhortation to make time to take some course of developmental action in spite of the sometimes overpowering levels of the MFL teacher's everyday workload.


An Introduction to Curriculum Research and Development (book) Stenhouse, L. (1975), London: Heinemann

This seminal work champions a process-driven approach to the theory and practice of curriculum design. The nature of the curriculum dilemma is explored in depth: content, teaching methods and styles, the school as an institution, the interaction between behavioural objectives and curriculum development, and an analysis of both the objectives-driven and process-driven approaches lead to the proposal of a research-led model of curriculum design. Stenhouse argues that curriculum should ‘belong’ to the teacher, and that design and development should be led by the process of research. “A research tradition which is accessible to teachers and which feeds teaching must be created if education is to be significantly improved.”
This ‘bottom-up’ process may seem in stark contrast with the current situation, in which it might be argued the curriculum consists of a set of ‘top-down’ objectives set by national criteria. However, there is not necessarily a philosophical dilemma for followers of the Stenhouse school of thought: proposals from policy makers need not be discarded, but can be treated as further enrichment of the bank of ideas which the teacher should test out in the classroom; Stenhouse’s later work clarified that teachers’ professionalism leads them not to reject advice, consultancy or support. However, conducting their own research into the ideas’ capacity for improvement puts curriculum back in the hands of teachers. It enables teachers to recognise the quality of their individual and collective expertise, to articulate, share and examine that expertise, and thence to seek to develop that expertise more fully. [McIntyre (1995)]. Much current theory and research properly values the notion of ‘autonomy’ in learning; this book effectively concludes that the teacher-researcher is her/himself aspiring to this notion, and that the teacher continuing in the role of a learner is a key aspect of professional development:
“Moreover, there is, it is argued, a teaching strategy which invites the teacher to cast himself in the role of a learner in his work so that his life in his classroom extends rather than constricts his intellectual horizons. A good classroom, by this criterion, is one in which things are learned every day which the teacher did not previously know.” (1975:37).


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