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Expanding the professional knowledge base of beginning teachers: The influence of differentiated employment experience on the development of competency in teaching

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Pietsch, M (2011) Expanding the professional knowledge base of beginning teachers: The influence of differentiated employment experience on the development of competency in teaching. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the knowledge growth of beginning primary teachers in different employment contexts in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It examines the difference in competency in the first two years of teaching attained by those who commenced teaching in stable, cohesive circumstances with secure, continuing employment and that of their colleagues, a majority of beginning teachers, who worked in uncertain and fragmented teaching situations as casual, relief or substitute teachers. This study also proposes an extension of current models of the knowledge base of teaching and the formulation of a more complex view of the knowledge base comprising three domains, knowledge of the practice of teaching, knowledge of the context of teaching, and knowledge of self-as-teacher. This thesis proposes a redefinition of the current concept of “context” beyond the school in which a teacher is employed to the broader concept of the employment context itself and examines the contextual factors impacting on teacher development. It enhances extant models of teacher development that describe teacher competencies at time-bound stages of a teacher’s career and proposes that beginning teachers’ movement from one stage of development to the next requires experience-in-context. A literature review provided insights into the way in which researchers such as Bullough (see, for example, Bullough, 1989, 1997; Bullough, Knowles, & Crow, 1992) and Berliner (1995, 1998, 2001) represented the experiences of beginning teachers and their development. The data revealed some consonance in the experience of beginning teaching between contemporary Australian teachers and teachers represented in the literature. There were also significant differences, resulting from the effect of differences in initial employment experience that remained hitherto unexamined by other authors. This research study utilised an exploratory mixed methods design. Data were gathered primarily through semi-structured interviews in a collective case study of eight participants. The question-response format was complemented by classroom observation, stimulated recall, document and artefact analysis and participant completion of a series of concept maps. In addition, a postal survey-questionnaire provided quantitative data from 241 beginning teachers located across NSW, Australia. The data indicated that the employment context significantly affected teacher development. Teachers in cohesive situations experienced development in all three domains of the knowledge base and were able to progress beyond the “novice” stage within two years. Those who spent two years in uncertain and fragmented employment contexts frequently regressed. This study will be of interest to educational researchers as it proposes some redefinitions of accepted constructs commonly applied to beginning teachers’ development. It will be of interest also to educational policy makers in clarifying the effect on future teacher competency of learning to teach in uncertain contexts, and to educational practitioners who are responsible for the induction and mentoring of teachers whose early experience may have been less than professionally satisfying.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Beginning teachers, teacher professional knowledge, teachers' practical knowledge, professional socialisation professional identity.
Date Deposited: 25 May 2011 04:58
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2012 03:11
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/10778
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