Monthly Archives: February 2010

Feedback for my research plan

Today I had a chance to present my research plan again in the doctoral seminar of educational sciences. Peers and facilitator suggested me to think about on following aspects:

– Why is the SECI model the best theoretical baseline?

– Maybe I should focus also on communities of practice, Lave & Wenger etc..?

– How do I measure that portfolio supports the professional development of teachers? Do those teachers, who does not use technology, are less supported or less developed? Are they less competent teachers therefore?

– Privacy issues and ownership in my portfolio-based learning environment

And sure, the eternal of issue of teachers’ using technology and e-portfolio in my study. There are still too many people who believe that teachers do not start using technology in their professional activities and it influences my study a lot. I was also said that if I have one teacher during my studies, who has agreed using portfolio with her students in school practice, it is not something to make conclusions. After the enthusiastic teacher leaves, I have nothing left. I agree with it, I have lot of hope that there will much more teachers in my study.

But, those, who last time were extremely critical with me, said for conclusion, that today I was confident and I had more arguments compared with the last meeting, I seem enthusiastic and therefore the overall picture looked better.



Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Vygotsky (1978) defined the ZPD as the distance between a child’s independent problem solving capability and the higher level of performance that can be achieved with expert guidance.

In teacher education context, the ZPD can be seen as some space, where pre-service teacher candidate, induction year teacher or in-service teacher develops her/his knowledge and competencies together with more experienced peers, who shares feedback, tips etc. Technology support may influence is more effectively. The social networking, which is important aspect in teacher training, but also emphasized by Vygotsky, can be easily implemented with portfolio for example.

ZPD can be seen as all the learner’s tools and resources (knowledge, networks, competencies, skills, tools) for performing some task or activity.

Valsiner (1997) proposed two further zones to account for development in the context of children’s relationships with the physical environment and other human beings: the Zone of Free Movement (ZFM), representing environmental constraints that limit freedom of action and thought; and the Zone of Promoted Action (ZPA), a set of activities offered by adults and oriented towards promotion of new skills.

Zone of promoted action can be seen as support for performing a task or activity with certain tools, which I don’t have yet (tools I mean). ZPA is like helping had for achieving ZPD.

Oerter characterises the ZPA as the set of activities and objects “the mastering of which is desired” by more experienced partners.

Oerter has claimed that the ZFM is characterised by the “segment of culturally provided opportunities or objects available to an individual” at a given time.

In teacher training context, ZFM can be interpreted as constraints within the school environment for pre-service teacher candidates like the curriculum provided by the university; students in school, where the practice is hold; learning materials and assessment by the facilitators; institutional and cultural traditions and cultures. The ZFM represents the barriers the individual may face while interacting different elements of the environment, suggests what teaching actions are possible. On the other hand, ZPA represents the efforts of a supervisors’ from school and university, to  promote particular teaching skills or approaches.

Pre-service teachers develop under the influence of two ZPAs – one provided by their university curriculum, the other by their supervising teacher(s) during the practice at school– which do not necessarily coincide. ZPA, ZFM and ZPD  constitute a system that can account for the dynamic relationships between opportunities and constraints of the teaching environment, the teaching actions specifically promoted, and the development of the novice teacher’s pedagogical identity.

Questions in instrument should be

To be continued..

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Seminar about professional learning with Karen Jensen

Today we had one of the most interesting seminars in Gothenburg University with professor Karen Jensen. She talked about professional learning, introduced the projects that she and Oslo University have been involved in and the general discussion took place.

Here I write down some interesting thoughts that were risen in seminar.

What is profession? – Does it include the ethical parts, by following the written and nonwritten rules and therefore become the professional of the specific area?

Standards need to be set to the professions. But who sets?

Coordination between subsystems of the organisation should exist. When all the doctors will move, then the collaboration between the nurses and doctors, will be low.

Where is the collective memory stored? Not just in university or not just in workplace, as both of those organisations shape small part of our lifelong learning nowadays.

There is so much knowledge in the world, that there is noone, who knows everything in his or her research field.

People do not trust the institutions (for example hospitals), but they do trust the persons (doctors), as the professions in those institutions. Paradox. System is based on a BELIEF that this doctor is same good as any other doctor. Personality does not matter, but profession (he is a doctor), matters. When I turn to doctor and he says, I know better than you, what disease you have, I BELIEVE him. And trust him. On the other hand, I will be sent to the operation, I don’t know, who personally operates me and I have to trust the institution (hospital) that everything goes right. It is a trust system, doctor never tells me hmm, I’ve never heard of such disease or I do not know how to treat you.

Society is changing quickly, everything is complicated, multi-culturality takes place etc, people have to be self-monitoring and -reflective in order to fit into the changing world.

We put the knowledge into some form and get back tool environment, object, text – it is mediation. When I learn something, I have to publish it. I take it in and give it back. But what about professional communities? They learn together, but how to give it back and by what means?

boundary object:

– there is one object that is differently interpreted and provides holding ground for communities, translations, standardisation of meaning;

– stable enough to enable coordination across communities of practice

– used in direct, cross-boundary interactions between multiple actors

technical objects:

– ready-to-hand, complete and unproblematic instruments

– static, fixed and stable tools

– concrete instruments are used by the expert subjects-functional role

epistemic objects:

characterised by lack and incompleteness; continuously evolving; laterally branch out.

– dynamic to enable knowledge work over time

– particular instantiations are used by the expert subject – have a binding role

Note. If you read articles, make small dramas of what one is saying and other certainly disagrees.

Interview is data? Or informed analysis?

Rather informed analysis, because: I ask teacher to analyse something. She does it, analysis herself, her work, reflects etc. It is not data, but analysis. Teacher gives her analysed reflection to me and I will analyse it for my self again.

Their project studied teachers from the professional learning aspects and:

– they have strong challenge to learn

– limited provision of profession-specific resources

– a break down in learning dynamics

– collegial advice are given precedence

Challenges to teachers’ profession are:

– priority given to personal knowledge and the sharing of experiences within local workplace

– the horisontal discourse takes precedence

Professional language of teachers, is low. Professional language involves the discourse of discipline, discourse of curriculum, discourse of assessment (tests etc).

These are the most important points from the seminar.