collaborative action research and project work: promising practices for developing collaborative...
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Teaching and Teacher Education 23
study, a context for learning was created that used
project work as the frameworkthe professional
inquiry can be learned by preservice teachers whenthey are placed in relationthat is, when they teach,
ARTICLE IN PRESSreect, and plan as members of teaching andresearch partnerships.
0742-051X/$ - see front matter r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Tel.: +1 865 974 8354.E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.Current school reform efforts in the US includenot only the challenge of bringing teachers up to parin light of dominant theories of development buttransforming the role of teachers away from adirective and prescriptive stance toward one ofinquiry (Holmes Group, 1992, 1996). The creationof teaching and research partnerships amongpreservice teachers is a promising practice forensuring that questions and needs related to practiceguide and inform their learning. In this qualitative
toolfor requiring and supporting preservice tea-chers to learn to teach, reect, and make decisionstogether related to childrens needs, abilities, andinterests.This study was conceptualized as praxis-oriented
in which the aim is a union of theory and practicewithin reective action (Schubert, 1991, p. 214).The study was grounded in the notions that (a)knowledge is personally constructed and sociallymediated, (b) research is another form of knowl-edge, and (c) attitudes and skills associated withExcerpts from case studies of two preservice teaching teams exemplify a new approach for merging research and practice
within an introductory early childhood methods course. Through participation in cycles of collaborative action research
focused on the joint task of implementing long-term projects, preservice teachers evidenced change in the ways they
participated in and developed an inquiry-oriented teaching stance. In particular, changes included (1) an increased
awareness of the value and need to share responsibility with teammates for making curriculum decisions, (2) early attempts
to self-regulate teaching behaviors through reection-in-action, and (3) an appreciation for and use of documentation in
making visible and public the relationship between teacher thinking, practice, and childrens learning. While changes in
level of reectivity and practice are noted and valued, the ways in which preservice teachers participation begins to change
may be as valuable an indicator of preservice teacher development as the possession of new knowledge and skills.
r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Collaborative inquiry; Action research; Reective practice; Social constructivist teacher educationAbstractCollaborative action researchpractices for developing coll
Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Tenne(2007) 418431
nd project work: Promisingorative inquiry among earlyvice teachers
1215 W. Cumberland Ave., Knoxville, TN 37996-1912, USA
ARTICLE IN PRESSM.J. Moran / Teaching and Teacher Education 23 (2007) 418431 419Teaching and research partnerships were estab-lished and mediated by myself, the teacher educator,aimed at encouraging novice teachers to applytheory to practice with a goal of moving away fromprescribed notions of teaching toward one char-acterized by cycles of inquiry. The purpose of thisarticle is to describe initial attempts by members oftwo preservice teaching teams to engage in colla-borative inquiry characterized by their abilities tomediate ideas, and construct meaning and knowl-edge and act upon them (Richardson, 1994, p. 6).Teacher education is under scrutiny and revision
within the eld of early childhood education, due, inpart, to the discontent with the outcomes ofschooling in the United States. How one learns toteach, what constitutes knowledge, and who denesknowledge continue to be debated (Grossman,1990; Connelly, Clandinin, & He, 1997). Whileearly childhood preservice teacher education hasbeen predominately inuenced by developmentaltheory that emphasizes childrens learning, teachersthemselves nevertheless continue to learn to teachfrom a transmission orientation, with perspectivesprovided by experts rather than from a position ofinquiry.As the incongruency between best practices for
teacher education and the education of youngchildren continues to challenge the eld, a similarresearch incongruency has emerged. Studies focusedon how teachers develop inquiry-oriented teachingoften look from the outside-in, (Cochran-Smith& Lytle, 1993; LaBoskey, 1994) rather than viewingteachers as active participants in research abouttheir own teaching (Cole & Knowles, 1993; Clark &Moss, 1996; Rodgers, 1999; Zeichner & Noffke,2001). This stance runs counter to the notion thatteacher inquiry develops from the reciprocal in-forming of teacher practice and teacher research onpractice. Consequently, teacher researchers arepositioned to move into the roles of theory buildersand knowledge producers, inuencing the eld fromthe inside-out.The rst section of this article includes a brief
review of contributions from theory and practiceand a description of my role as the teacher educator.In the second section, ve vignettes are portrayedand analyzed using excerpts from preservice tea-chers writings, classroom teaching, and transcrip-tions from team meetings and teacher interviews.The article concludes with implications for theinclusion of research partnerships in preservice
teacher education programs.2. Contributions from theory, research, and practice
2.1. Social constructivism
The theoretical premises of social constructivisttheory draw attention to the critical importance oflearning opportunities characterized by joint activ-ities in which collaboration and the generation ofshared meaning is socially constructed, communi-cated, and mediated through the use of tools andsign. Rogoff (1995, 1993) describes how the processof social interaction advances thinking for indivi-dual participants in which change in knowledge andskill is representative of their adjustments to andunderstandings of the sociocultural activity. Rogoff(1995) further identies this process as participa-tory appropriation to refer to the way individualstransform their understandings and responsibilitieswithin an activity as a result of their own participa-tion; and that through participation, individualsbecome prepared to engage in subsequent similaractivities (p. 150). From this perspective, this studyis focused on describing how preservice teachersbegin to think and act differently as a result ofparticipation in teaching and research teams andhow they begin to evidence change in similarsubsequent activities toward an inquiry orientationto teaching.
2.2. Reflective practice
Contemporary reective practice is essential toprofessionalizing the eld (Han, 1995) and rooted inthe seminal work of Schon (1983) in which hedescribed two major levels of reective practice,reection-in-action and reection-on-action. Tea-chers are encouraged to move through these levelsand increasingly automatize their ability to think ontheir feet. Reective practice is a fundamentalbuilding block of an inquiry orientation to teaching(Dana & Yendol-Silva, 2003; Roth, 1989; Tom,1985), and as such, is viewed by many as an essentialfeature of contemporary teacher education anddevelopment (Conway & Clark, 2003; Harvard &Hodkinson, 1994; Sparks-Langer, Colton, Simmons,& Starko, 1991; Zeichner, 1996). One of the waysthat teachers learn to teach and reect is as membersof dyads or teams where individual reection isenhanced by group and paired collaboration(Francis, 1995, p. 240). As teachers extend theirprivate reections within a public forum, not only do
they reveal their individual actualized development,
ARTICLE IN PRESSM.J. Moran / Teaching and Teacher Education 23 (2007) 418431420(i.e., zone of proximal development), but alsogenerate collective interrelated zones of proximaldevelopment (Moll & Whitmore, 1993, p. 21). Fromthis perspective, reective practice when shared andmade public through the analysis of classroomrecords and teaching partnerships, enables intelli-gences to be distributedacross minds, persons,and the symbolic and physical environments y(Pea, 1993, p. 47). As a result, the collective maybuoy or scaffold the individual, such that theindividual begins to assume a level of competencygenerated by and situated in the collective. In thiscontext, individuals may attempt more complex tasksbecause the individual shares the knowledge, thedecision to act, and the responsibility to proceed withthe collective.
2.3. Collaborative action research
Interest in teacher research has developed con-currently with the interest in developing reectivepractitioners. Teacher research within schools andteacher education programs is represented byteacher as researcher projects (Black & Huss,1995), partnership research (Cole & Knowles,1993; Castle, 1995), and collaborative action re-search (Crawford, 1995; Hubbard & Power, 2003;Oja & Smulyan, 1989; Zellermayer, 1990). The actof forming partnerships for action research beginsto address the need for collaboration both amongpreservice teachers and teacher educators (Castle,1995) who conduct classroom research. Thesepartnerships transform the traditional teacher edu-cators orientation as transmitter of knowledgetoward one of collaborator and co-constructor ofknowledge with preservice teachers. According toOja and Smulyan (1989) participation in the sharedexperience of collaborative action research ischaracterized by four elements: (a) its collaborativenature, (b) its focus o