This paper reports on the design and implementation of a 7-week teacher education course that used student-led research projects as an innovative pedagogy to enhance authentic as well as shared learning among 2 classes of pre-service graduate teachers in Singapore. The course to be discussed was an educational studies elective for secondary- and junior college-level trainee teachers, and was geared towards providing them with an early exposure to the challenges of working successfully with educational stakeholders, such as students and parents. This was effected through small-scale group projects that allowed students to locate ‘real’ evidence and construct new understandings for themselves of this vital aspect of teaching life. The underlying philosophy of the course was therefore to provide students with an opportunity to actively ‘fish’ for authentic real-world information in the content area instead of adopting the conventional classroom-based model of transmitting knowledge in neat ‘ready-to-eat’ mouthfuls. After ‘sensitizing’ students to various aspects of the content, the required project assignments involved each small group of 5 students outlining and implementing a plan to collect authentic information, through conducting in-depth interviews with school ‘stakeholders’. These interviews were focused on a selected issue of their choice in a problematic area faced by students, parents and teachers. Following the interviews, the groups had to make meaning of their ‘findings’ and apply these understandings in a hypothetical school facing similar problems. The different groups presented their plans and projects in class in order to generate discussion and further understanding, thus multiplying valuable learning across the groups. Such an evidence- and problem-based approach to teaching and learning gives student teachers stronger and richer opportunities for professional collaborative learning and helps them develop an early authentic knowledge base for practice in future complex situations than would be available in traditional teacher-centered classroom using mainly text-based instruction.
|Keywords:||Collaborative Teacher Research, Pre-service Teacher Education, Working with School Stakeholders, Authentic Learning Through Hands-on Research|
Assistant Professor, Policy and Leadership Studies Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Singapore, Singapore
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