Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Fostering of Applicable Educational Knowledge in Student Teachers: Effects of an Error-Based Seminar Concept and Instructional Support during Testing on Qualities of Applicable Knowledge

Academic journal article Journal for Educational Research Online

Fostering of Applicable Educational Knowledge in Student Teachers: Effects of an Error-Based Seminar Concept and Instructional Support during Testing on Qualities of Applicable Knowledge

Article excerpt

1.Problem description and aims

The application of scientific educational knowledge to improve pedagogical practice is gaining importance against the backdrop of the current debate on the introduction of evidence-based practice in the education sector (Bromme, Prenzel, & Jäger, 2014; Slavin, 2002, 2008). Evidence based practice refers to the consideration of the most recent scientific evidence for professional decisions and actions (Bauer, Prenzel, & Renkl, 2015, cf. Evidence-based Medicine Working Group, 1992). The German standards for teaching and teacher education (Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs [KMK], 2004, 2015) consequently demand future teachers to be able to interpret, reflect on and make use of ed- ucational research findings for their classroom practice. Empirical data, however, require critical interpretation on a theoretical basis to gain the status of evidence (Bromme et al., 2014). Thus, future teachers also have to be enabled to make use of theories (Meier, 2006). This includes the theory-based explanation of complex school situations (cf. retrospective understanding; Beck & Krapp, 2006) as a form of scientific argumentation. Since both theories and evidence can be enlisted in this task, this article subsumes both categories under the term scientific educational knowledge.

Various problems occur due to the complexity of scientific knowledge application as well as the lack of its systematic training (Ohlsson, 1992; Bainbridge, 2011). Scientific educational knowledge remains inert (Renkl, 2006): Students are able to reproduce it in exams, but are unable to apply it to specific pedagogical situations. Even experienced teachers have problems understanding empirical data and show deficits in the argumentative use of evidence (Stark, Herzmann, & Krause, 2010; Wenglein, Bauer, Heininger, & Prenzel, 2015). Hence, evidence from educational research is hardly used as a resource for classroom practice or reflection by teachers (Hargreaves, 2000; Hetmanek et al., 2015; Neuweg, 2007). In addition, their scientific argumentation is prone to numerous errors (Stark, 2005) such as explanations of complex school situations on the basis of every day knowledge or subjective theories (Groeben, Wahl, Schlee, & Scheele, 1988) or faulty use of empirical evidence (Kuhn, 2010).

These errors, however, constitute learning opportunities. Based on earlier studies presenting typical scientific knowledge application errors in integrated learning environments (Reinmann & Mandl, 2006) to foster the acquisition of applicable educational knowledge (Wagner, Klein, Klopp, & Stark, 2014a, 2014b), we developed an error-based integrated seminar concept. It is based on a multitude of established instructional design principles and focuses on the theoretical reconstruction and reflection of biographical learning and teaching experiences (cf. KMK, 2004; 2014; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008). The integrated seminar concept was compared to a regular teacher education seminar on theory-based reflection in the present study. Taking into account that future teachers will have access to external resources for the evaluation of school situations or course planning (Hetmanek et al., 2015), we also examined the effects of an instructional support measure during the learning tests to increase the ecological validity of the testing situation. We assessed the effects on different properties of applicable knowledge according to Krause (2007) in the theory-based explanation of complex school situations, drawing on a knowledge taxonomy by de Jong and Ferguson-Hessler (1996).

2.Theoretical background

2.1Theory-based reflection of pedagogical experiences as a form of theory application

The ability to apply scientifi c educational knowledge to perform a theory-based reflection of pedagogical experiences or questions is a part of a teacher's competences as outlined in the standards for teaching and teacher education (KMK, 2004; 2015). …

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