E-journal of All India Association for Educational Research (EJAIAER)
VOL.20 Nos: 3 & 4 September & December, 2008
RESEARCH AND TEACHER EDUCATION
Sunil Behari Mohanty
ago, the editor, as a member of a Teacher Education Resource Group inspection
team had visited a State Government managed
INNOVATIONS IN INITIAL TEACHER TRAINING
Deliberations on innovations make teacher trainees aware of importance of undertaking innovations for bringing improvements in the school system. “In a global knowledge economy, where the touchstone of competitiveness will be capacity for innovation, the fostering of a culture of innovation is a matter of encouraging the rapid spread of inventions and new ideas throughout a society” (UNESCO 2005, p. 59). Effective teacher training programmes promote a culture of innovation that promotes rapid spread of innovations and new ideas. Do courses of studies of the examining bodies encourage innovation? If not, how these can be modified to encourage innovations in initial teacher training programmes?
Innovative Courses to suit to Changing Needs
More than three decades ago, the Education Commission 1964-66 stated that “New courses required to meet special needs should also be developed” (Kothari 1966, Art. 4.26, P. 136). The nation has not been able to develop courses to fit to the requirements of different categories of candidates and keeping in view effective utilisation of time and energy for teacher training. However, certain examining bodies such as Jamia Millia Islamia have started a few innovative courses - B. Ed. (Special Education), B. Ed. (Nursery Education), M. Ed. (Elementary Education), M. Ed. (Special Education), M. A. (Educational Planning & Administration). Should such types of innovative courses be started by other examining bodies?
Advanced Level and General Level Initial Teacher Training
In spite of
having cent per cent trained teachers in secondary schools, many States have
large numbers of institutions where general initial teacher training courses
such as B. Ed.; D. Ed., are being provided. Should these States go for Advanced
Level of Training Courses so that products of their courses can get preference
for teacher recruitment by developed countries? In an era of global
competition, introduction of advanced level of teacher training, no doubt, is a
necessity. There are special government schools for gifted children. There are also high fee charging private
schools which look for talented teachers at higher salary than the Government
rates. Countries like
One Year B. Ed. Courses for Pre-School Teaching for Graduates
As the 86th amendment of the Constitution, has made pre-school education part of Article 45 of the Directive Principles of the Constitution and has made it responsibility of the Government, is there a necessity for creating examining bodies for pre-school teacher education in each of the States and UTs and expanding facilities for pre-school teacher training? Should DIETs start pre-school teacher training courses? Can Jamia Model of One Year B. Ed. (Nursery Education) course be suggested for other examining bodies? Is it necessary to make this qualification equivalent to two year Diploma course for pre-school teaching after higher secondary?
One Year B. Ed. Courses for Elementary School Teaching for Graduates
Kothari (1966, P. 136). Stated that
“The employment of graduates in primary schools - even at the lower primary
stage- has been increasing and a special course designed for them could be of
great value.” After three decades, is this recommendation still valid?
Recently, an analysis of qualifications of primary school teachers in
Puducherry found that majority were graduates. NCERT had instituted B. Ed.
(Elementary) course which was withdrawn. Many developed countries have
increased minimum qualifications for primary school teachers to degree level
and are also providing their teacher training at the university level.
PG Diploma for Higher Secondary Teaching
Teachers in lower secondary schools generally teach two subjects for which B. Ed. courses provide two method subjects. A teacher at the higher secondary school stage teaches only one method subject and requires training in teaching of one method subject. School teaching experience may be restricted to teaching of school students of classes XI and XII. Instead of prescribing one year B. Ed. course for such teachers, should there be a new course such as PG Diploma for Higher Secondary Teaching? What should be the duration of such a course? There are States like Orissa, where most of the higher secondary classes are attached to junior colleges as part of higher education and their teachers need not be trained. Should there be a PG Diploma for Higher Secondary Teaching Course (Distance Mode) for such teachers?
B. Ed. (Education)
While recommending introduction of Education as a subject at both undergraduate and post graduate stages, Kothari (1966, p. 126) stated that.
“In all these courses – undergraduate or postgraduate- a minimum teaching practice should be obligatory just as laboratory work is a compulsory part of the study of sciences. It should be possible for a student who has taken these courses, to become a teacher, after a period of internship and, if necessary, after some in-service education provided through summer institutes.”
There are States (e.g. Orissa) where ‘Education’ is a subject taught even at the higher secondary stage and it includes training of teaching skills and practice teaching in primary schools. The ‘Education’ graduates do not deliver lessons in secondary schools and do not cover all types of practical training and all methods of teaching covered in a Diploma or Certificate course for elementary school teaching, a special course is required for them- What should be the duration of such a course?
Bridge Courses to Switch Over from One Stage to Another
A programme is being provided by the government of Uttar Pradesh to make B. Ed. passed candidates eligible for primary school teaching job through their participation in special BTC programme of 6 month duration. Should such attempts be tried out in other parts of the country?
TECHNIQUES FOR IMPROVING INITIAL TEACHER TRAINING CURRICULA
As the society advances, new techniques appear to take care of various concerns. What are the techniques applicable for initial teacher training curricula of this century?
A Few Concerns
MHRD (1986) mentioned a few concerns such as Education of Girls & Removal of Gender Bias (P. 6); Inclusive Education (P.8); Education of Children from Minority Groups (p. 8); Education of Children from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Groups (p. 6); Secularism (p. 3); Democracy and Equality of Educational Opportunities ( p. 4); National Integration (p. 4); Value Education ( p. 4); Peace and International Understanding ( p. 4). Should initial teacher training curricula take into account all these concerns?
Improving Quality of Training in School Teaching
Minimum number of lessons to be delivered per method subject varies from one State to another and from one examining body to another. What is the magic number? Should it be a specific number of lessons or a specific period of attachment to school?
Giving Stress on Freedom and Flexibility
Flexibility is an accepted principle of good initial and continuing teacher education programmes. Good curricula have in built freedom to develop its own curriculum keeping in view resources available and national standards for teacher preparation. In an ideal situation, each teacher trainee develops his/her own curriculum. They set their own goals and develop action plans to explore issues that matter to them and develop varieties of lesson plans and teaching learning tools. Effective programmes give freedom to their faculty members to carry out innovations. Will it be possible for examining bodies to allow freedom and flexibility in their initial teacher training courses?
Providing Opportunities for Self-Learning of Teacher Trainees
Modern strategies suggest that initial teacher training is possible through a more personalised training route. In order to have optimum utilisation for self initiated learning of teacher trainees and teacher educators, is it necessary to have the library and the computer room kept open during morning and evening hours? Advancements in science and technology have brought in newer sources of learning than available in formal traditional sources. Now, there are ample opportunities for self- learning for teacher trainees, who are exposed to Internet. Are initial teacher training courses giving scope for self-learning of teacher trainees? If no, how to ensure it?
Utilising Modern Teaching Techniques
Good programmes train their trainees in skills such as engineering effective discussions, questions and tasks that elicit evidence of learning; providing feedback that moves learners forward; clarifying and sharing learning intentions and criteria for success; and activating students as the owners of their own learning and as resources for one another. They provide training in skills of developing and using graded worksheets and in undertaking project work. They encourage peer learning, group learning, collaborative learning, learning through dialogue and learning from assessment of learning. They utilise innovative methods. To what extent teacher training programmes are utilising modern techniques in training their teacher trainees? Is it necessary that the teacher training courses of studies do specify methods to be utilised in transaction of theory?
Utilisation of ICT including Internet Resources
Effective utilisation of ICT techniques changes the role of the teacher from teacher as a “presenter” to that of a “problem-poser”, to a “co-learner” with learners in a problem centered classroom. Is it advisable to make ICT a compulsory paper in each initial teacher training programme? Will utilisation of ICT improve the skills of teacher trainees in all types of situations? What will happen, if they are posted in schools away from urban locations? Will ICT skills be of no help in such locations? UNESCO (2005, p. 22) states that
“There is no point in linking populations with fibre optics unless the development of skills and efforts to produce appropriate contents keep pace with that “connectivity”. Information and communication technologies still require the development of new cognitive and legal instruments in order to realize their full potential.”
Will the training programme cover training in traditional audio-visual aids, in addition to modern aids, so that there can be effective teaching even during the power cut period, when electrical gadgets are not used?
The initial goals of an action research project develop and change as teachers share and reflect on experiences. Some nations provide training in research skill development (OECD 2005, p.107). In case of many examining bodies, trainees submit action research reports for evaluation as part of course requirement. Are they real action researches? Do the trainees get time to undertake action research during their internship? Is it necessary for teacher educators to have action research in training their trainees in different skills and even in taking theory classes?
Lifelong Learning & Learning to Learn
teacher educators make the teacher trainees acquire lifelong learning skills
for their own initial training as well as for continuous professional
development. Do teacher educators employ innovative, activity and learner
centred strategies in theory classes? Learning to learn requires abilities such
as locating, classifying and sorting of the information. Do teacher training programmes develop the
skill of learning to learn among teacher trainees? Do they make the trainees develop skills of
using lifelong learning tools such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, thesaurus,
index, maps, and globe? Three decades
ago, UNESCO Institute for Education at
Learner Centered Teaching Strategies
Knowledge does not come from the teacher; it is constructed by the learners. Knowledge society requires use of varieties of strategies suited to each learner’s intelligence. Effective teaching requires varieties of teaching methods so as to cover preferences of student groups for any modality. Do teacher educators employ learner centred strategies in teaching theory? Do they utilise constructivist approach, which points out that learning is a personal process? Personalising teaching and learning strategies enable students receive support tailored to their needs, interests and abilities (Gilbert 2006). These strategies are renewed commitment for learner-centered education. Do teacher training programmes provide training in facilitating personalised learning in the classrooms? Do they go for personalised learning of teacher trainees?
EVALUATION OF INITIAL TEACHER TRAINING CURRICULA
physical or human resources is not enough for delivery of high quality initial
teacher training programmes. Many developed nations carry out periodic
evaluation of the programmes at national, state and institutional levels. The
strategies employed include portfolios, interviews, performances and direct
observation. Is there a necessity for
such types of evaluation in Indian situation? What should be the mechanism? Broadly,
teacher education programmes are delivered by four types of institutions:
University Departments of Education, Departments of Education in general
CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD) of School Teachers
Inter-school sharing of experiences by teachers working at elementary school level is being carried out through the activities of Cluster Resource Centres and Block Resource Centres. Is there a necessity for having such centres for secondary and higher secondary school teachers? Should every teacher education institution have an extension services centre? Is quality of cluster resource centre activities getting negatively affected due to absence of highly knowledgeable and skilled master trainer, who is available in case of extension service centre?
Training Courses for Head Teachers
Kothari (1966, p. 469) stated that “… special training courses (which do not exist at present) should be organized for headmasters. They should include short induction courses for those who are newly promoted as headmasters as well as periodical refresher courses for others”. MHRD (1986, P. 27) stated that “Heads will be specially selected and trained.” MHRD (1992, p. 117) stated that “Each State government should formulate a training policy and perspective plan for organising training programmes for educational planners and administrators at different levels.” Chapman (2005, pp. 24-25) suggested induction programmes, mentoring programmes and leadership coaching. What factors are obstructing national government as well as State governments to provide a training programme for heads of schools delivered as Diploma courses though distance or face to face mode? What should be the duration of such a course? Can there be a degree course such as One Year Bachelor Educational Leadership (B.E.L.) course? Can such a course, be made available for supervisors / inspecting officers of schools?
Updating of Knowledge and Skills
Recently, in two workshops being conducted for developing skills for writing research papers, it was found that all the participating teacher educators was not aware of the 86th amendment of the constitution. They did not know that elementary education had become a fundamental right and ECCE had a place in Article 45 of the directive Principles. Continuous updating of knowledge and skills of teacher educators is essential for implementing an excellent initial teacher training curriculum. Should there be periodical tests conducted at various levels? Should there be a mechanism to make teacher educators aware of what changes have taken place in the materials they had learnt during their own training? Which agency should take lead in the matter? Is it necessary that quality assurance in teacher education need develop and operationalise resource centres for continuous updating of knowledge and skills of teacher educators?
Qualifications of Teacher Educators
qualification for a Lecturer in Education varies from State to State and from
School Teaching Experience of Teacher Educators
Teacher Educators as Honorary Academic Supervisors of School Teachers
There are State Government institutions, where a faculty member has to teach for less than three hours a week. This is the worst kind of wastage of human resources. The teacher education institutions having only B. Ed. courses, on many occasions, are unable to provide any work to most of their faculty members, when admissions are delayed. Is it necessary to declare teacher educators as honorary academic supervisors of school teachers indicating their areas, so that the heads of the teacher institution can engage the fewer hours working faculty members in observation and giving feedback of school teaching or in preparation of teacher support materials? Will feedback given by the faculty members of teacher education institutions help the school teachers, regular supervisors and heads of schools?
Test for Selection of Teacher Educators
As there is a difference in content covered in Method theory subject at B. Ed. and at M. Ed. or M. A. (Education), can a teacher educator selection test will take care of the differences in preparing teacher educator through M. A. (Education) or M. Ed. courses? M. Ed. course in many States are taught through State languages. Such students may not have acquired secondary school level English language. For example, it was found that a lecturer while filling up a Form for becoming member of an association, wrote “M. Phil” as “M. Fill”. A Lecturer having studied M. Ed. through Gujarati medium generally can not teach B. Ed. Tamil medium students. Hence, is it necessary to have separate test for selection of teacher educators at each State level? Should there be national level and State level selection tests? Should the tests include assessment of classroom teaching performance through observation and analysis of video recording along with the applicant? Should there be a Test for issue of Provisional License and another Test for Issue of Regular License? If a national level test is suggested, which agency should take the responsibility of preparing test items, administering tests and declaring results
Orientation of New Teacher Educators
Adequately qualified persons starting career as teacher educators need orientation to the new roles. Whether there is such a necessity? Studies conducted on existing teacher educators can help in answering this question. If the answer is yes, should studies be undertaken to suggest guidelines for such programmes?
Training teachers is a complex issue. “Teacher preparation has become a controversial issue all over the world.” (Bray 2007, P. 11). Researches may not be able to suggest strategies that are effective universally, but these strategies can be adapted to suit to specific requirements. There has been no conclusive research evidence for teacher education that can be applicable globally. Various international bodies like UNESCO, World Bank and IIEP have been carrying out researches and encouraging nations to do research. In 2000, American Educational Research Association has set up a panel on Research and Teacher Education. Editors of this Panel stated that their job was to “recommend a new research agenda for teacher education by outlying topics that needed further study, identifying terms and concepts that required clarification and consistent usage, describing promising lines of research and processes most likely to define new directions and yield useful findings for policy and practice” (Cochran-Smith and Zeichner 2005, p. x). In this editorial, an attempt has been made to highlight a few research issues so as to provide a base for All India Association for Educational Research (http://www.aiaer.net) to set up a panel on Research and teacher Education.
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