Making a Difference in Teacher Education? A Case Study

By Isabel Barbosa and Flávia Vieira.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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If pre-service teacher education is to play a central role in teacher empowerment for democratic educational change, particular attention should be paid to the nature and impact of teacher education practices. We need to develop a scholarship of teacher education whereby teacher educators explore and inquire into their own pedagogies as regards their educational value for teacher development and school teaching. Based on the above assumptions, a naturalistic self-study was conducted over two academic years in two sequential pre-service teacher education contexts where the researcher acted as teacher educator: (1) a Teaching Methodology course attended by twenty two students, and (2) the practicum of six of those students. The study aimed at enhancing the students’ professional autonomy and had the following pedagogical and research objectives: 1) To articulate prospective teachers’ didactic training with the practicum; 2) To develop and monitor teacher education strategies that promote reflectivity, self-direction and creativity/innovation; 3) To analyse the effects of those strategies upon teacher empowerment and the transformation of school pedagogy; 4) To explore a self-study approach in the context of pre-service teacher education. A reflective, participatory teacher education approach was designed and evaluated, involving data collection through questionnaires, portfolios and interviews. The paper highlights and discusses some major findings related to the impact of the approach on the promotion of professional autonomy, critical reflection and pedagogy for autonomy in schools. We conclude that a reflective, participatory approach in pre-service teacher education can promote professional autonomy and prepare prospective teachers to become reflective practitioners and foster learner autonomy in schools. The study further suggests the need to develop a scholarship of teacher education as a means to reshape teacher education pedagogies and enhance their transformative potential.

Keywords: Pre-service Teacher Education, Pedagogy for Autonomy, Self-study Approach

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp.31-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 451.323KB).

Isabel Barbosa

FL Teacher, Language Department, Escola Sá de Miranda, Braga, Portugal

English teacher at Sá de Miranda School (Braga, Portugal), where she coordinates a multidisciplinary project aimed at the development of learner autonomy. Between 1994 and 2007, she was a teacher educator at the University of Minho (Portugal), where she developed research in the areas of pedagogical supervision and pedagogy in higher education. She has been an active member of a multidisciplinary learning community of school teachers and academic researchers/ teacher educators since 1997: Working Group-Pedagogy for Autonomy.

Prof. Flávia Vieira

Institute of Education, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

Full professor at the University of Minho (Portugal), Institute of Education, Centre for Research in Education. She is a teacher educator and has developed research in the areas of teacher development for learner autonomy, pedagogical supervision, and pedagogy in higher education. She has been actively involved in the scholarship of teacher education and has coordinated a multidisciplinary learning community of school teachers and academic researchers/ teacher educators since 1997: Working Group-Pedagogy for Autonomy.