Transforming Pre-Service Teacher Education in STEM through Innovations in Research Collaborations and Reflective Practice

Year: 2016

Author: Woolcott, Geoff, Marshman, Margaret

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation describes findings from innovations in research collaborations and reflective practice within in a multi-university science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) project conducted across regional eastern Australia. The project focus was on improvements in pre-service teacher (PST) confidence and competence in mathematics and science education. The innovations described were developed as refinements of an iterated sequence of enhancement-lesson-reflection (ELR), and comprise a powerful combination of two relatively simple processes, a STEM and education collaboration nexus and an innovative reflection protocol based on affect-based critical moments in teaching. These refinements have enabled the ELR iterations to be better oriented towards the PSTs’ self-directed improvements in classroom teaching. This presentation will outline how these types of collaborations and reflections can be carried out in online as well as face-to-face learning environments. The iterated approach enabled PSTs to prepare lessons using expert advice, deliver those lessons and then use reflection based on emotional states as a non-judgmental way of reflecting on lesson content and pedagogy. The presentation highlights the qualitative analysis, coded and scored using constant comparative analysis and examined using NVivo, of the largely positive PST responses to iterations of the ELR sequence as well as to the innovation of video and/or collaboration and affect-based critical moment analysis. The study used a mixed-methods approach, with participating PSTs taking part in collaborative discussion groups, completing self-report diaries, responding to an affect scale, contributing to self and peer analysis of audio/visual recordings of their classroom teaching and participating in self-and-peer-reflection sessions concerning their teaching and enhancements. The continued success of the project has encouraged consideration of the ELR iterations as having the potential for a two-way effect in building PST confidence in the STEM that is ‘out there’ in the real world and in giving participants an appreciation of high-engagement teaching methodologies and strategies. In particular, the enhancement discussions give PSTs a better idea of the different levels of understanding of the key role that STEM plays in their everyday lives and the similarity between these types of thinking as used by researchers. The comments that PSTs have made or written, and the classroom student feedback and observer comments, indicate that the PSTs realize that they can utilize the types of thinking that they use every day. The developing project is having a flow-on effect and its broader development may serve to revitalize pre-service teacher education and current teaching practices in regional Australia.