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Critical writing and analysis-Analysis of qualitative article: Learning on the job

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Learning on the Job: An Analysis of the Acquisition of a Teacher’s Knowledge by Paul G. Schempp

(Tee Siok Hoon)

A. Research topic

Q1. Provide a statement of the general issue, topic, or question being

investigated.

What criteria were used for a teacher to acquire the knowledge on his teaching?

Q2. Describe any reformulation of the topic on the basis of the ongoing,

interactive nature of the collection, analysis, and synthesis of data.

The data collected did not show how a teacher acquires knowledge necessary for his teaching but more to Bob’s daily practices.

The data analysis involved summarising data into themes and categories, which identified forms of knowledge as well as criteria Bob used in acquiring pedagogical knowledge. But when I review the data analysis, I found that topic was reformulated towards main issues and weaknesses of Bob’s practices in class organization and operation, teaching behavior, subject matter and pedagogical-content knowledge.

Q3. Discuss the importance of the topic.

A teacher must well equip himself with depth understanding and knowledge about his subject before he can teach effectively but what are the criteria for acquiring knowledge in a teacher’s professional practice?

Contemporary literature on teaching lack substantive information on the knowledge teachers use in their teaching, some questions noted by Shulman (1986) such as: “Where do teacher explanations come from? How do teachers decide what to teach, how to represent it and how to deal with problems of misunderstanding?” (p.8) These are very interesting questions for us to research on.

This case study specifically examines the criteria one teacher used in acquiring the knowledge necessary for his professional practice.

The research showed that Bob had developed set of criteria to acquire knowledge necessary for his daily teaching. These criteria allowed Bob to identify the gaps in his knowledge and to access new knowledge, which contribute to his teaching. Therefore this topic is important for Bob to continue review and acquire new information and then integrate this new knowledge into his professional practice.

From the observation done by the researcher, Bob became fairly predictable in his day-to-day teaching activities with only little changes in his course of action.

Student enjoyment is his main consideration and thus new knowledge that conformed to his classroom practices passed Bob’s test of valued professional knowledge. He realized that his lack of information regarding effective-teaching behavior caused a little chance to change.

This research is important for Bob to always change as new information or knowledge comes to him and is incorporated into his professional knowledge base.

This topic is important because knowledge not only influence what he teaches but how effective he teaches? By researching the criteria to acquire knowledge, Bob can become a more effective teacher who stresses on what students learn, how to stimulate the students to achieve higher achievement.

B. Review of literature

Q1. Describe the nature of the review of the literature

The researcher presented in the school on a daily basis for the first month and made field trips twice a week on average after that.

Data analysis began on the first of study and ended approximately 1 year later. The researcher collected and analysed the data concurrently in order to develop data summary themes and check the emerging themes against recurring field activities.

The researcher collected and analysed the data concurrently in order to develop data summary themes and check the emerging themes against recurring field activities.

The researcher used a variety of qualitative techniques to collect and analyse the data such as: participant observation, artifact and document analyses, stimulated recall videotaped classes and both formal and informal interviews. The researcher recorded field notes during and after observation and a summary statement was made off site after each day of data collection.

The final report included the specific strategies employed to insure data trustworthiness such as: triangulation of methods, member checks, disconfirming case analyses and cultivating reactions from the case-study teacher to the themes, categories and events.

Q2. List the major issues identified in the review of the literature

 

Class organization and operation

Bob relied on practical rules and principles, routines and habits to guide classroom operation rather than inflexible standards or absolute. Bob does not consider the prior knowledge of students as he constantly repeats his practices. He does not take into account what the students want or is interested to learn. I feel that Bob should expose students to new activities and allow them to learn new skills. In order to acquire new knowledge, Bob should observe what skills his students lack and plan how to develop those skills and knowledge in his students.

Bob relied upon few resources in deciding the organizational ad operational patterns of his classes. The fundamental criterion for evaluating his class organization and operation knowledge was Bob’s satisfaction with the results of the policy, rule or procedure.

Parents and administrators took a strong interest in the consequences Bob dealt students for misbehavior. Bob focused on fulfilling the requirements of parents, students and administrators. He does not have any motivation to acquire new knowledge and improve student’s learning.

Bob seemed unaware of an existence of a “shared technical culture” (Lortie, 1975) for matters operation and organization.

 

Teaching behavior:

Most of Bob’s teaching behavior is depending on well-rehearsed, time-worn rituals which largely composed of comfortable habits and familiar routines. He did not actively pursue knowledge that directed affected his daily teaching. The fundamental criteria were not much on what the students learned but more on their level of enjoyment. There was no learning through inquiries as students were not encouraged to be curious and initiate their own learning. They were not taught to be life-long learners, instead they were taught to only learn what they enjoyed the most.

He did not actively seek effective teaching strategies and lack in repertoire skills.

Bob did not get feedback on his teaching behavior from parents and students and no encouragement for him to stimulate greater student achievement. As there was no feedback from students or parents, Bob does not have the habit of evaluating his own practices in class. Therefore, he does not have an action plan to further improve himself in terms of knowledge and skill.

The concern for classroom control over education substance has been a consistence finding in research on physical education teacher’s conceptions of their occupational duties and responsibilities. (Placek, 1983; Schempp, 1985, 1986)

Bob has spent his time to complete requirements of his responsibilities and other activities and left no time to evaluate and improve his instructional practices.

The incentive for Bob to improve his teaching behavior was little. The administrators held a greater concern for the operation of the school than what the teacher did for student’s achievement in physical education.

Subject matter

Personal understanding and meaning of subject-matter plays an important role in Bob’s acquisition and use of content knowledge. Teacher in other subject also appear to rely on personal understanding in selecting content (Wilson & Wineburg, 1988)

The lack of expertise in subject matter resulted in Bob’s inflexibility in changing the content so readily and amenably. Due to his inflexibility, he would always be teaching the same content over the years. He does not take into account the current social environment or the changing of trends. As a result, the content that he teaches will be outdated and not beneficial to students. In my opinion, a teacher should always be up-to-date on content knowledge. This is to relate what students learn to current social situations so that it can be applied practically in their lives.

Pedagogical-content knowledge

Bob seeks curricular content that fits his teaching style. He is observed to select new activities that fit his mode of operation than look for new ways to teach old subject matter. He was less likely to teach subject matter in depth and more to teach many activities at the introductory level. The consequence of this practice is that student’s knowledge is very limited; hence their developments and achievements are also affected. Therefore, as a teacher, Bob should strive to acquire new knowledge in order to developed students knowledge in different aspects.

External conditions

Bob passively resisted school and state imperatives that counter to his personal beliefs and his interpretation of the community moral standards. His frustration came from the work amount that had gone into developing his curriculum but was ignored by those in state agencies.

Assignment 2:

A. Research approach

1. Identify the research approach

The researcher used interpretive analytic framework and case study methodology to do this research. He used a variety of qualitative techniques to collect and analyse data.

2. Briefly describe the procedures used

This yearlong research analyzed the criteria used by a midcareer high school teacher, Bob to acquire knowledge necessary to teach. Data were collected using a variety of ethnographic techniques including: nonparticipant observations, artifact and document analysis, stimulated recall from videotapes, and formal and informal interviews.

Besides Bob, the researcher also interviewed Kathy and other school personnel (e.g., students, teachers, administrators) in crosschecking stories and events described by Bob. He recorded field notes during and after observations and made a summary statement off site after each day of data collection. By collecting and analyzing the data concurrently, he managed to develop data summary themes and check the emerging themes against recurring field activities.

He started to collect data two days before the start of school and officially ended just before the Christmas break. He was present in the school on a daily basis for the first month of the study and made field trips twice a week on average after that.

An initial draft of this report was sent for his review and comment. His comments were incorporated into subsequent drafts and used to validate the accuracy of the events and quotes reported.

3. Identify any ethical issues related to the study

The names of the school and participants such as Bob, Kathy were clearly stated in this study which could create an ethical issue.

B. Site and participant selection

1. Describe the strategies used to select the site and gain entry to it

The researcher selected Hillcrest High School because education was held in high esteem as evidenced by the town having one of the highest tax bases in the state. Hillcrest High School has approximately 470 students so the numbers of students are able to provide sufficient data to this study.

The researcher selected Hillcrest High School because of its excellent achievement in the academic. This can be proved that two years before this study, the United States Department of Education awarded this school an educational excellence award.

The topic of this research is to analyse the criteria used by an experience teacher to acquire knowledge necessary to teach, so Bob was selected probably because he is an experienced teacher who has taught high school physical education for the past 14 years at Hillcrest High School.

2. Describe the site

Hillcrest is a small, rural community in the Pacific Northwest with high esteem in education as evidenced by the town paying highest tax in the state.

Hillcrest High School with approximately 470 students. During the first year, all the students were required to take physical education for one year and could elect physical education after that. The freshman physical education classes were separated by gender and were taught as a survey course to cover many subject areas. The other physical education classes were coeducational and defined by student interest (e.g., recreational sports, weight training). Hillcrest High School had two physical education teachers; one for boys (Bob) and one for girls (Kathy).

3. Describe the participant(s) and list the sampling strategies used to select them

Robert Halstop is an experienced teacher who has taught high school physical education for the past 14 years at Hillcrest High School.

He was coaching the girls’ varsity basketball team when this study is conducted. He has coached many sports and been involved in numerous school clubs, groups, and projects.

He also performed normal student counseling activities and other school duties assigned by the administrators. Bob seems to be a committed and dedicated teacher who usually in school much earlier before school officially began at 7:30am and stay later than the dismissal time at 3:30pm.

Bob worked at a local lumber mill during the summers, but did not work outside the school during the academic year.

This research was carried out to analyse the criteria used by an experienced teacher to acquire knowledge necessary for his professional development, so Bob was selected probably because he is an experience teacher who has taught high school physical education for the past 14 years at Hillcrest High School.

A variety of qualitative techniques were used to collect and analyse data. Among these techniques were participant observation, artifact and document analyses, stimulated recall using videotaped classes, and both formal and informal interviews.

The researcher has presented an initial draft of the report for Bob’s review and comment. His comments were incorporated into subsequent drafts and used to validate the accuracy of the events and quotes reported.

Besides Bob, Kathy and other school personnel (e.g., students, teachers, administrators) were also interviewed. Kathy played an important role in cross checking stories and events described by Bob, in cases where discrepant information occurred, Kathy often provided valuable insights. The researcher has chosen Kathy as a cross checking person perhaps because she is also a physical education teacher who has taught in Hillcrest High School for 3 years.

Data analysis involved summarizing data into themes and categories using procedures recommended by Miles and Huberman (1984), Goetz and LeCompte (1984) and Patton (1980). The construction of these categories was influenced by Shulman’s (1987) theory of a knowledge base for teaching.

C. Data collection and analysis

1. Describe the researcher’s role in the study

The researcher’s role in the study is to collect, analyse and interpret data. He collected data from his observation and both formal and informal interviews.

He analysed the data on the first day of the study and ended approximately one year later. By concurrently collecting and analyzing data, he was able to develop data summary themes and check the emerging themes against recurring field activities.

He analysed data during the study to ensure data collection techniques to be tailored to gather data that were amenable to testing and understanding the emerging themes.

Based on the analysis, he interpreted the data in relation to the research topic which is the criteria used by an experienced teacher to acquire knowledge necessary to teach.

2. Report the data collection strategies used

The researcher collected and analyzed the data by using a variety of qualitative techniques included participant observation, artifact and document analyses, stimulated recall using videotaped classes, and both formal and informal interviews.

Besides Bob, Kathy and other school personnel (e.g., students, teachers, administrators) were also interviewed.

He recorded field notes during and after observations and a summary statement was made off site after each day of data collection. He began to collect data two days before the start of school and officially ended just before the Christmas break. He was present in the school on a daily basis for the first month of the study and made field trips twice a week on average after that.

The researcher has presented an initial draft of the report for Bob’s review and comment. His comments were incorporated into subsequent drafts and used to validate the accuracy of the events and quotes reported.

3. Identify any instruments or protocols used

Specific strategies employed to insure data trustworthiness included triangulation of methods, member checks (particularly the use of key informants and the constant use of follow-up interviews to check consistency of responses), disconfirming case analyses (the investigation of responses and/or occurrences that were incompatible with emerging themes), and cultivating reactions from the case-study teacher to the themes, categories and events to be included in the final report.

Kathy who had been teaching physical education together with Bob at Hillcrest for three years often provided valuable insights in cross checking stories and events described by Bob.

Data analysis involved summarizing data into themes and categories using procedures recommended by Miles and Huberman (1984), Goetz and LeCompte (1984) and Patton (1980). The construction of these categories was influenced by Shulman’s (1987) theory of a knowledge base for teaching.

The final step of the analytic procedure was to present a copy of the report to Bob for his comments and reactions. The findings were brought back to the case study teacher so that he could: (a) check the accuracy of the data (reliability), and (b) validate the findings of the report. This procedure was considered a critical component for establishing the validity and trustworthiness of the study’s findings (Lather, 1986).

4. Identify any threats to the quality of the data (i.e., observer bias or effect)

The researcher also interviewed Bob’s colleague, Kathy who is also a physical education teacher at the same school to cross check stories and events described by Bob, in any case discrepant information occurred.

5. Describe the strategies used to enhance validity and reduce bias in data collection

To insure data trustworthiness, the researcher used special strategies included triangulation of methods, member checks (particularly the use of key informants and the constant use of follow-up interviews to check consistency of responses), disconfirming case analyses (the investigation of responses and/or occurrences that were incompatible with emerging themes), and cultivating reactions from the case-study teacher to the themes, categories and events to be included in the final report.

6. Describe the strategies used to classify and interpret data

Data analysis involved summarizing data into themes and categories using procedures recommended by Miles and Huberman (1984), Goetz and LeCompte (1984) and Patton (1980). The construction of these categories was influenced by Shulman’s (1987) theory of a knowledge base for teaching. He identified seven categories of teachers’ knowledge: subject matter, general pedagogical, curriculum, pedagogical content, learners, contexts, and purposes. As themes emerged and clustered into categories, these categories were checked against Shulman’s propositions.

The first step was to review the collected data to determine tentative categories. Next, the data were coded using the tentative scheme. The category scheme underwent revisions until the data could be classified within the scheme with no redundancy of categories. The constant comparison method of analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) was used to identify these patterns and relationships.

The final step of the analytic procedure was to present a copy of the report to Bob for his comments and reactions. The findings were brought back to the case study teacher so that he could: (a) check the accuracy of the data (reliability), and (b) validate the findings of the report. This procedure was considered a critical component for establishing the validity and trustworthiness of the study’s findings (Lather, 1986). Additional revisions were then made based on the responses and reactions from the teacher. Events contained in the report seen by Bob as either inaccurate or threatening to confidentiality were rechecked and eliminated where appropriate. Bob’s comments and additional supporting evidence were incorporated into the final draft of the report to lend strength to the propositions put forth.

Assignment 3-Learning on the job: An analysis of the acquisition of a teacher’s knowledge

By Tee Siok Hoon

(approximately 300 words in total)

Results

Report the findings.

After the interpretive analytic framework and case study methodology were used to research the criteria used by an experienced teacher to acquire knowledge, the researcher identified that Bob acquired his knowledge from five knowledge categories:1)     classroom organization and operation

2)     teaching behavior

3)     subject matter

4)     pedagogical-content knowledge

5)     external conditions

Describe the researcher’s interpretation of the findings.

Like many teachers (West, 1975; Yinger, 1980), classroom order and control were predominant concerns for Bob. Bob, like many teachers (Clandinin, 1985; Clandinin & Connelly, 1986), relied on practical rules and principles, routines, and habits to guide classroom operation rather than inflexible standards or absolute rules. Bob perceived the ability to organize and operate a class to be a fundamental and critical responsibility of a teacher.The practices that defined Bob’s teaching behavior were largely composed of comfortable habits and familiar routines. Bob did not actively pursue knowledge that directly affected his instructional practices.

The fundamental criteria used to determine the success of a lesson was, therefore, not so much what students learned, but rather their level of enjoyment. He harbored a stronger concern for maintaining control over the collective social behavior of the students. The concern for classroom control over educational substance has been a consistent finding in research on physical education teachers’ conceptions of their occupational duties and responsibilities (Placek, 1983; Schempp, 1985, 1986).

Bob acquired new subject-matter knowledge based upon these criteria: (a) perceptions of his own competence in teaching the subject, (b) personal interest in the subject matter, (c) perceptions of student interest, (d) actual student demand as demonstrated by elective class enrollments, (e) time investment necessary to teach or prepare to teach the subject, (f) the novelty of the subject, and (g) facility and equipment constraints.

Bob seeks curricular content that fits his teaching style. He selected new activities that fit his mode of operation than he is to look for new ways to teach old subject matter.

However, external conditions were only a minor consideration in Bob’s acquisition of knowledge.

Discussion 

Report the researcher’s conclusions.

Bob had a well developed set of criteria to guide his acquisition of occupational knowledge. Contrary to the belief of many students, administrators, and colleagues, Bob continually reviewed and screened new information and then made attempts to integrate this knowledge into his professional practice.Bob’s professional knowledge appeared personal and idiosyncratic (Carter, 1990; Zeichner, Tabachnick, & Densmore, 1987).

The researcher concluded that the changes and alterations Bob did make were neither dramatic nor overtly visible. In short, little changed in the observable practices of Bob’s day-to- day activities as a teacher and he became fairly predictable in his course of action.

In the final analysis, however, Bob’s time in service has made him well aware of who he is, what he does, why it does it, and what knowledge is required for him to meet the demands of teaching in a public school.

State the relationship between the conclusions and the initial problem

The initial problem was to examine the criteria used by an experienced teacher to acquire knowledge. The findings showed that classroom order and operation held the highest priority in Bob’s pedagogical knowledge. Subject matter that fit his personal interests, workplace conditions, and would result in student enjoyment had the greatest chance of penetrating the curriculum. New knowledge that conformed to his well-worn classroom practices passed Bob’s test of valued professional knowledge.He acknowledged a lack of information regarding effective-teaching behavior, and given his workplace conditions, this situation appears to have little chance to change.

Bob is always changing as new information comes to him and is incorporated into his professional knowledge base.

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