Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Research Experience of Social Studies Pre-Service Teachers: A Qualitative Study

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Research Experience of Social Studies Pre-Service Teachers: A Qualitative Study

Article excerpt

Abstract

Improving teachers' reflective thinking skills about their instructional applications in their classrooms and their suggestions to solve the problems they face during teaching have become more important since the 80s. Reflective thinking is not only important for the professional development of teachers but it also plays a significant role in the institutional development of schools, eventually in the development of the society. Teachers' taking part in their teachings as researchers depends on their ability to adopt a researcher role and their experience in research. The participants of the present study were a group of third-grade pre-service teachers who were attending the Social Studies Teacher Education Program in the Education Faculty of Anadolu University. The study was conducted in order to understand the pre-service teachers' perceptions of their research experience in the scope of the course titled Research Method in Social Sciences. The data were collected in June, 2006 by using semi-structured interviews held with a total of 24 volunteering pre-service teachers. All the participants, 8 males and 16 females, were selected by using criterion sampling method. Content analysis was used to analyze the data. Findings showed that most pre-service teachers believed that teachers should conduct research for the purpose of solving the problems they might encounter in the learning-teaching process and for the purpose of professional development. Another finding was that the pre-service teachers considered the research process as a different experience, although they described the process as "difficult." Most pre-service teachers also stated that they learned the research processes and understood research articles and theses. They pointed out that they were more willing to conduct a research after their experiences. In this process, some pre-service teachers experienced various problems in areas such as the description of the research problems, data collection, time management, data analysis, and group work. The pre-service teachers suggested that the course of Research Method in Social Sciences should take place in all teacher education programs in Turkey, the course should be offered with more course credits, and it should include field-experience. Final suggestion was that pre-service teachers should be guided effectively in the entire research process.

Key Words

Social Studies, Pre-service Teachers, Researcher-Teacher, Reflective Thinking Skills, Teacher Education.

Teachers are considered as professionals who are known to be trained as reflective pragmatists, who are able to relate instructional applications to research, and who sometimes inform other teachers through the publications of their own studies regarding their own teaching (Ben-Peretz, 1994; Eliot, 1993, cited in, Koutselini, 2008; Kynaslahti et al., 2006; Darling-Hammond ve McLaughlin, 1995, cited in, Levin ve Rock, 2003; Rock, & Levin, 2002; Rosiek, & Atkinson, 2005; Zeichner, & Klehr, 1999). In the profession of teaching, research on teachers is seen as a necessity for a teacher to become better in his job (Stenhouse, 1984, cited in, Ekiz, 2006a; Whitford, Schlechty, & Shelor, 1987, cited in, Clift, Veal, Johnson, & Holland, 1990), and this new role of the teacher is described as "researcher-teacher" (Ben-Peretz, 1994; Ponte, Ax, Beijaard, & Wubbels, 2004; Zeichner, & Klehr, 1999). The notion of "researcher teacher" is first proposed by Lewin in the 40s and it came back at the top of the popularity during the 70s by means of the curriculum development works of Lawrance Stenhouse (Brydon-Miller, Greenwood, & Maguire, 2003; Cochran-Smith, & Lyttle, 1990; Ekiz, 2006a). Consequently, the notion of researcher-teacher has started to be regarded as a part of the school system throughout the last decade (Hopkins, 2002). Additionally, teachers are considered as expert reflective practitioners who associate the research and teaching approaches and publish studies related to their teaching approaches in order to enlighten other teachers on the practical teaching approaches (Kynaslahti et al. …

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