|Module Code:||PM9206||ECTS Credits:||5|
Recent years have seen calls for a greater focus in education on the development of practical competencies (Ball and Forzani 2009; Grossman 2011; Kazemi, Franke and Lampert 2009; Lampert and Graziani 2009; Windschitl, Thompson and Braaten 2011), with the “foundation” modules (Psychology, Sociology, History and Philosophy) sometimes even deemed “nonessential” (Walsh and Jacobs 2007). However, some writers such as Zeichner (2012), Ryan and O’Toole (2013) and Kelly (2009; 112) maintain that these approaches reduce educators to “technician rather than professional, operator rather than decision-maker, someone whose role is merely to implement the judgements of others and not to act on his or her own”. While it may be acknowledged that attention during their preparation to student teachers’ enactment of high-leverage educational practices is necessary, even essential, it is not sufficient for their overall development as competent professionals. As Olson and Bruner (1996, 17) put it simply demonstrating ‘how to’ and providing practice at doing so is known not to be enough. Studies of expertise demonstrate that just knowing how to perform skilfully does not get a learner to the same level of real skill as learning to perform skilfully while knowing in some conceptual, reasoned way why one performs as one does.
As such, a thorough grounding in the foundation studies and research methodologies is vital for the development of excellent educational practitioners. In this module therefore, the ‘foundational’ approach to the disciplines is, as recommended (Darling-Hammond, 2006; Conway et al., 2009; Ryan and O’Toole, 2013) reconfigured to promote students’ integrated learning across disciplines, their curriculum methods and other course work, and their classroom practice. Students are introduced to specific theories of each discipline and where relevant their interrelationships, so that they might develop appropriate ‘perspectives’ (Anderson et al., 1995) that enable them to better understand the dynamics and issues of school life and successful classroom pedagogy, as well as the potentially transformative role of education in the lives of children (Freire, 1972). The ultimate aim is that students can employ well-founded and highly appropriate perspectives in their analyses, interactions and research in classrooms and schools.
A critical component of the Professional Master of Education is the development of the necessary practical skills towards the completion of a research dissertation. This component of the module has been designed to provide students with a critical grounding in the principles and practices that underpin the generation of research-based evidence, with a specific focus on its effect on policy and practice in the domain of education. The knowledge, skills and understanding and, in particular, the competence to engage critically with empirical and non-empirical research which students will gain from this section of the module, will be directly transferable to their development as pedagogical experts. More generally, the development of educational practitioners’ abilities to critically reflect on and deconstruct secondary research has long been a core set of competencies in the area of continuing professional development since the late 1960s. In developing this tradition, it is intended to provide students with the capacity to undertake their own research, but to do so from a theoretically and methodologically informed perspective. It also essential that this is situated with the reflective and reflexive practitioner tradition, to provide a meaningful link between theory, research and practice within the primary school context.
The Educational Theory and Research module is divided into three sections:
- Psychology and Sociology of Education
- History and Philosophy of Education
- Research Methods and Dissertation
Aims of Psychology and Sociology of Education:
- To develop in students an understanding of various sociological and psychological perspectives and their interconnections and implications in education
- To facilitate understanding of the processes of learning and motivation from both a psychological and sociological perspective, and to inform the practical application of such understanding in the field of primary education
- To consider how sociological and psychological theories can make a major contribution to understanding how micro-level dynamics and macro-level social factors impact in schools
- To explore through the lens of psychological and sociological knowledge, specific aspects of professional practice in education (e.g. ability grouping; cooperative learning; classroom management etc.)
- To empower future teachers to fulfil their potential as transformative educators through the development of psychological and sociological 'perspectives' on learning and development
Aims of History and Philosophy of Education:
- To explain how religious, ethical, economic, political and social thought is reflected in educational systems
- To analyse and engage in discussion on educational and social policies
- To develop students' capacity for critical and coherent thinking and analysis
- To provide an overview of major philosophical and historical trends and developments in education
- To encourage course participants to develop their own responses to the philosophical questions arising by engaging in personal critical reflection
Aims of Research Methods and Dissertation:
- To provide students with a critical grounding in the key debates around research-based evidence both within and outside of education (e.g. medicine, social work, nursing);
- To introduce students to the range of research methodologies and research tools applied by research-based evidence practitioners
- To develop students' critical understanding of the reflexive dimensions associated with research-based evidence
- To develop students' understanding of the analytical techniques applied in the context of evidence-based research
- To develop students' capacity to interpret and critique, from a methodological perspective, empirical and non-empirical forms of evidence
- To facilitate students in carrying out their research dissertations with appropriate guidance from their supervisor
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Psychology and Sociology of Education
- Critically analyse the implications of specific psychological and sociological theoretical perspectives for education.
- Articulate from an informed perspective, concepts of ability / knowledge / learning and how these might impact on practice as a teacher.
- Identify the multitude of psychological and sociological factors interacting with, and impacting on, motivation and learning.
- Draw on psychological and sociological insights gained with respect to the dynamics and issues of children’s interrelated home and school lives, to offer explanations for educational achievement / underachievement and to evidence an understanding of potentially successful pedagogical strategies.
- Confidently research, interrogate, synthesise and interpret the findings of up-to-date journal articles and other sources in the psychological and sociological literature, and explore application of these insights to their work in education.
History and Philosophy of Education:
- Analyse the implications of specific philosophical and historical theoretical perspectives for education
- Critically analyse the role of various stakeholders in the formation of education systems
- Interrogate educational policies from a historical and philosophical perspective
- Provide a detailed discussion of a topic, justify and evaluate their position and counter-claims.
- Employ appropriate examples and arguments, including their own thoughts and experiences that reflect a degree of personal critical reflection
- Recognise a philosophical question and provide a balanced and purposeful inquiry I
- Deconstruct concepts of knowledge and ways of learning
- Demonstrate an ability to engage with dialogue on philosophically sensitive ideas such as justice, equality and non-discrimination
- Develop an ethical approach to practice informed by an understanding of ethics and the Codes of Professional Conduct for Teachers
- Establish a personal philosophical position which will inform future practice
Research Methods and Dissertation
- Show a critical understanding of the range of methodological approaches (e.g. case study, life history, quasi-experimental, evaluation, narrative, ethnography) that can be applied in the domain of educational research
- Articulate an informed awareness of the different reseearch traditions (e.g. feminism, critical theory, critical realism, historiography) which inform the domain of research-based education policy and practice
- Comprehend the epistemological, axiological, ontological axioms which underpin research-based evidence
- Evaluate the interrelationship between research questions, methodologies and the generation of evidence
- Appraise the range of research methods used in the generation of evidence
- Construct a rsearch proposal which critically applies the key concepts covered in the module
- Comprehend the ethical and political dimensions of research-based evidence
- Deconstruct published educational research in its application to educational policy and practice
- Complete a substantial, intellectually challenging research project related to their particular field fo study, within a set time-frame, and with appropriate guidance from a supervisor
Method of Assessment
Psychology and Sociology of Education: Group Presentations
History and Philosophy of Education: Essay (2,000 words)
Research Methods and Dissertation: Dissertation (10,000 words)