• Seeking constructive alignment of assessment in teacher education: locating the reflection in reflective writing

      Croft, Julia (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2015-04)
      The aim of this thesis is to promote a dialogue about constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996) with a particular focus on the use of reflective writing as an assessed task in courses of teacher education and the influence it has, or does not have, on teacher reflection and/or in improving practice. The work is set against a national context in which time to reflect is being written out of teacher education as a consequence of policy which locates ‘training’ to teach increasingly within the busy-ness of school life. Persuaded by principles of constructive alignment and, therefore, troubled by student teachers’ perceptions of complex assignments which appear to have little relevance to their practice as teachers, I have undertaken an action research study (McAteer, 2013; Norton, 2009; and Wells, 2001), beginning with a conviction that it is possible to design assessment tasks which truly integrate professional and academic requirements and influence the learning activity of student teachers in ways which are meaningful for their development as teachers. Using an adaptation of the Ward and McCotter (2004) ‘Reflection Rubric’ to locate characteristics of reflection within the reflective writing submitted for assessment, the study evaluated the relationship between written reflection and academic and professional attainment and found little evidence that engagement in the reflective writing assignment had contributed to the participants’ development as teachers. I conclude that the assessment strategies of students and of the course had been either not aligned or destructively aligned. The thesis narrates my journey to the adoption of a socio-constructivist perspective, leading to greater insight into the relationship between established assessment practice and the learning activity of student teachers, and a questioning of my practice. Crucially, the notion of a ‘framework for assessment’ is broadened to encompass all assignment-related activity, the people involved and the timeframe, in addition to the task and criteria. I conclude by identifying a desire to know more about the national view of assessment in teacher education, seeking a network of colleagues in order to explore ways in which counterparts in other institutions are supporting student teachers to develop reflective practice and assess reflective writing.
    • Transforming self as reflective teacher: journey of being and becoming a teacher and teacher educator

      Akinbode, Adenike (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014)
      The nature of reflective practice in teaching and its development is the focus of this research. The research approach is reflexive narrative through systematic self-inquiry using Johns (2010) six dialogical movements. This methodology is new to researching the practice of teaching. The research process involved constructing stories of practice experiences, culminating in the construction of the reflexive narrative charting the entire journey over three years and four months. Creating the stories involved in-depth reflection using the disciplined practice of journaling. Reflection was deepened using reflective models, and dialogue with a range of literature sources also supported the creation of the stories. Central to the study was guided reflection through regular engagement with an established inquiry group, which provided a high level of challenge and support for the research. The reflexive narrative was constructed from 25 stories of practice experience, which represents the journey of being and becoming a reflective teacher and teacher educator. The research presents aspects of the lived experience of teaching which includes foregrounding some of the complexity of classroom practice. The research demonstrates how engaging in in-depth reflective process can transform moment to moment practice within the fast-paced crowded classroom experience. This is achieved through gaining an in-depth understanding of self as a teacher, and of the education system and its policies and practices. As a result of in-depth reflection on practice, aspects of teaching which usually remain hidden are exposed. The research identifies how emotion impacts on teaching in some depth. An understanding of one’s emotional self in practice, and one’s personality preferences are essential in developing desirable practice. The research makes a contribution to knowledge about narrative research in educational practices. The methodology demonstrates a valuable approach to developing teaching practice, and enabling a teacher to identify issues which impact on practice but which have been hidden. Teachers also gain an understanding of the fear and constraints which limit desirable practice and enable one to find ways to work that are liberating rather than limiting.