On Monday, Clare and I (Clive) had the privilege of attending an outstanding symposium at Brock University on self-study research on teacher education. It was organized by Tim Fletcher and Deirdre NiChroinin and funded by their respective institutions, Brock University and the University of Limerick. Highlighted speakers were Clare, Julian Kitchen, and Tom Russell. Apart from the local audience, the symposium was streamed live and will be archived for online access at : http://brockvideocentre.brocku.ca/videos/ (Under Self Study Symposium — 01:46:06).
One issue that came up was the validity of self-study inquiry versus research with a larger sample size. It was noted that there is pressure (from tenure and promotion committees as well as policy developers) to conduct research larger in scope than the typical self-study project. Some suggest that to increase the “significance” of self-study research it may be necessary to combine a number of smaller projects.
From the audience, I made a comment that was lost electronically and Tim and Deirdre have asked me to repeat it here. My comment was as follows:
Small scale research by individuals or small groups often provides a depth of understanding not available through large scale research. We must not assume that bigger is better. While large sample research is suitable for certain purposes, often something is lost when we move to a larger sample and have to ask simpler, one-shot questions, where the meaning of the questions and answers is often unclear. The typical self-study project enables us to probe in considerable depth the nature, purpose, and effectiveness of various teaching practices.
Dewey, Schon and, more recently, Zeichner, Cochran-Smith, and Lytle have emphasized how much practitioners learn on the job; and Bryk et al. in their recent book Learning to Improve (Harvard Education Press, 2015) maintain that quantitative researchers must join forces with on-site practitioner-inquirers to build a complex, publically available framework of educational concepts, principles, and practices (somewhat akin to Wikipedia). Both types of research are needed. We must not privilege one over the other.
Congratulations to our friend and colleague Tim Fletcher on the publication of Self-Study in Physical Education Teacher Education which he co-edited with Alan Ovens. Tim has a long-time commitment to the practice and study of health and physical education. Teaching at Brock University where he is an Assistant Professor and conducting research on the preparation of teachers to teach phys ed, he understands the complexity of the issues facing teachers and teacher educators. Helping children and youth acquire the skills and attitudes to lead a healthy and active lifestyle is not easy but is critically important. This text will help us think differently about preparing teachers to teach health and physical education.
Here is a description of the book:
In this in-depth examination of self-study as a research methodology, an international selection of physical education scholars share their ideas and experiences and consider the value of self-study as a vector for highlighting the emerging conflicts, dilemmas, and debates currently developing in teaching and teacher education pedagogies. A vital new addition to Springer’s series Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices, the volume is divided into three sections assessing the significance of the approach itself, offering detailed subject-relevant case studies, and exploring the nuances and controversies attending the evolution of the methodology.
The contributors show how self-study enables reflexivity in pedagogical practice, a notable lacuna in current critical research, and at the same time they make the technique accessible to scholars of physical education wanting a practicable introduction to the subject. The analysis also explores the implications of applying self-study to pedagogy itself, to the curriculum, and to human movement and educational practice more generally. By embracing more organic, emergent notions of research practice and learning, the book achieves a broader and more inclusive survey of pedagogical work in physical education teacher education that fully acknowledges the complexities of the field. http://www.springer.com/education+%26+language/learning+%26+instruction/book/978-3-319-05662-3
Tim Fletcher posted the following comment. Thought that I would put it in a blog post in case you missed it.
Thanks very much for all the kind words. I was lucky enough to learn about researching teachers/teacher education from two of the best (Clare & Clive)! BTE was also such a powerful experience for me — here is a link to an article I wrote with my UK colleague Ash Casey (founder of another teaching blog: http://www.peprn.com ) about how strongly BTE influenced my thoughts about learning to teach teachers: http://journals.humankinetics.com/jtpe-back-issues/jtpe-volume-31-issue-4-october/trading-places-from-physical-education-teachers-to-teacher-educators.
Loving the blog by the way!
Congratulations to Dr. Tim Fletcher for being awarded the 2014 AIESEP (International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education) Young Scholar Award. Tim is the first Canadian to receive this award. Tim is doing cutting-edge research on health and physical education (including self-studies of his own practices as a teacher educator). Tim is an Assistant Professor at Brock University. Check out his faculty page for a partial list of his publications. http://www.brocku.ca/applied-health-sciences/faculty-directory/kinesiology/tim-fletcher
Tim has been part of both of our research projects (Clive’s longitudinal study of teachers and Clare’s study of literacy/English teacher educators). He is an outstanding young scholar who is so worthy of this award.
This attached picture is of Tim and Shawn Bullock, another outstanding young Canadian scholar with whom Tim has collaborated. Check out Shawn’s website for a list of some of his publications. Shawn’s work is making a real difference in how we understand teacher education. http://shawnbullock.ca/wp/
Send us pictures from the award ceremony at the AIESEP World Congress being held in Auckland next month.