Learning to teach for social justice: Measuring beliefs across undergraduate and postgraduate pre-service education programmes

Year: 2012

Author: Loughland, Tony, Ginns, Paul, Amazan, Rose, Tierney, Rob

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Purpose: Teachers cannot escape the politics of education because they "mediate the relationship between outside authorities, formal knowledge and individual students in the classroom" (Shor, 1992; p.13).

In the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, the Scholar Teacher philosophy employed in the undergraduate program and the Reflective Teacher approach adopted in the graduate program (Connell, 2009) both involve a critical examination of the principles of social justice through an exploration of the empirical, sociological and pedagogical implications of equity issues in Australian education systems. Although teaching for social justice is not an explicit outcome of the teacher preparation programs in the Faculty, the university does have a graduate attribute that refers to "ethical, professional and social understanding".

This research will seek to answer the following question: What are pre-service and graduate students' perceptions of social justice beliefs? To further investigate the topic of teaching for social justice the following research questions serve as a guide to address the issue at hand:

1.To what degree are pre-service and graduate teachers, enrolled in the Faculty of Education and Social Work, prepared to teach in a range of schools (i.e. urban, remote and rural), as measured by the Learning to Teach for Social Justice-B (LTSJ-B) scale?
2.How are the background characteristics of pre-service and graduate teachers related to their perceptions of preparedness to teach students?
3.How do students' beliefs in the principles of teaching for social justice and attending pedagogies vary as a result of the Faculty of Education and Social Work curricula?
4.What are students' perceptions of quality of the Faculty of Education and Social Work teacher education programs in relation to preparing students to teach across a range of populations?

Method: This study will involve an administration of a survey consisting of the LTSJ-B scale demographic questions. This survey will be administered to teacher education students at one point of time across all cohorts. Qualitative data will be gathered through follow-up interviews with individual students.
Results: the survey of students will commence shortly, and results will be presented at the conference.
Conclusion: this project is the first stage in the development of a greater range of outcome measures for our teacher education courses. The significance of this for the educational community will be the legitimation of the cause of social justice in forums where the production of scientific evidence is paramount.