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Critical Analysis ETAP 777

VIEWS: 31 PAGES: 21

									       Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers    1




                        ETAP 777 Qualitative Research Methods

                                    Research Project:

       A Critical Analysis of Theoretical Frameworks Used In Qualitative Articles

                                          Topic:

Situated Professional Teacher Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers

                                         Joy Quah

                                Due: December 11, 2011
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers             2




                                                Abstract

        I reviewed studies grouped around the topic “Situated Professional Teacher Development for

Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers”. My research question was: “To what extent did theoretical

propositions shape major components of these studies?” I analyzed how propositions of situated

learning theories were used to frame and guide components of each study. My analysis of these articles

revealed pedagogical and theoretical congruence between the contexts studied and the theoretical

lenses used to examine them. My analysis also revealed that theoretical propositions were more often

than not consistently used in formulating major components of the studies. As a result, these

frameworks added richness, subtlety and complexity in understanding how teacher-communities share,

create, organize, revise and pass on knowledge among new members.
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                 3


1.0     Introduction

        My topic is “Situated Professional Teacher Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified

Teachers”. My research question is: “To what extent did theoretical propositions shape major

components of these studies?”

        I will review studies involving pre-service and newly-qualified teachers attending formal

professional education programs and in-situ training in the form of structured activities or courses for

enhancing professional development.

        Traditional models of teacher education programs often develop knowledge and skills that are

independent of context (Dell’Alba & Sandberg, 2006; Glazer, Hannafin, Polly, & Rich, 2009). “The main

criticism of this form of training is that professionals cannot meaningfully be separated in this manner

from their activities and the situations in which they practice” (Dall’Alba & Sandberg, p.385). Due to

these criticisms, field-based models of teacher development have been gaining attention (ibid.). These

models promote “the participation of novices in teams of skilled professionals who critically reflect on

understandings of practice that are evident in day-to-day workplace routines and procedures” (p.307).

        Researchers investigating field-based models of professional development often use Situated

Cognition and theoretical frameworks derived from it to frame their studies. These theories recognize

that “knowledge is situated, being in part a product of the activity, context and culture in which it is

developed and used” (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989, p.32). In my review, I will discuss how propositions

and constructs of these theories have been used to frame and guide components of each study.

2.0     Search Process

        My selection of articles and my review were guided by the following question:

“To what extent did theoretical propositions shape major components of these studies?”

Based on this question, I only selected articles clearly supported by a theoretical framework, which was

used to a reasonable extent to shape major components of the study. I conducted my search using three
              Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers              4


education databases – Education Full Text, ERIC (via EBSCO) and Education Research Complete. I used

the peer review filter to ensure the quality of the articles selected. Some of the journals I looked

through were Journal of Teacher Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, The Teacher Educator and

others related to the field of teacher education. Since my topic was about situated professional

development, it was important for training to be conducted in-situ. To fulfill various criteria I

mentioned, I conducted my search using combinations of terms including “situated learning”, “teacher

education”, “professional development”, “theoretical framework”, “theory”, “teacher training”, “pre-

service”, “communities of practice”, “cognitive apprenticeship”, “activity theory”, “social learning”,

“situated learning”, “situated cognition”, “case study approach” and “ethnographic approach”.

3.0     Summary and Analysis of Studies

        3.1      Article 1 Summary and Analysis

Glazer, E. M., Hannafin, M. J., Polly, D., and Rich, P. (2009). Factors and interactions
        influencing technology integration during situated professional development in an
        elementary school. Computers in the Schools, 26(1), 21-39.

        This study examined teachers’ interactions during an on-site peer-mentoring “Collaborative

Apprenticeship” program aimed at integrating technology into teaching-learning activities. The

participants included more experienced “teacher-leaders” who were paired with less experienced “peer-

teachers”.

        Activities were carried out in three phases. In the first phase, teacher-leaders would model

integration strategies. In the following phase, peers and leaders would collaboratively develop activities.

In the final phase, peer-teachers would independently design activities.

        The Communities of Practice framework by Lave and Wenger (1991) informed the study. The

authors called their program “Collaborative Apprenticeship”, which suggests that they had incorporated

elements of Cognitive Apprenticeship by Collins, Brown & Duguid (1989) into the study. This was,

however, not explicitly mentioned.
             Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                5


         Findings revealed that peer-teachers preferred to seek assistance and interaction from those

outside the Collaborative Apprenticeship program. These interactions were determined by similarities in

subject area, shared interest in a curriculum topic, proximity of seating, shared expertise and

administration-sanction of personnel.

         Article 1 Analysis

         The Communities of Practice framework focuses on the social and interactive dimensions of

situated learning. It was originally developed in the context of apprenticeships (Lave and Wenger, 1991;

Glazer, Hannafin, Polly & Rich, 2009). Through legitimate peripheral participation, new members socially

“construct and negotiate meaning, develop a collective vision, and share strategies and insights that are

fundamental to the community” (Glazer et al, p. 25; Lave & Wenger, 1991, Wenger, 1998).

         According to Mertz & Anfara (2006), “The concepts, constructs, and propositions that are part

and parcel of a theory help the researcher in formulating these component parts of the research

process” (p. 192). The proposition of apprenticeship through legitimate peripheral participation was

clearly reflected in the research questions.

        What factors influence the interactions among a community of teachers during collaborative
         apprenticeships?
        What interactions influence peer-teacher efforts to integrate technology in their classrooms?

         Integrating elements of legitimate peripheral participation into both research questions enabled

the researchers to identify areas to examine in the study (Merriam, 1998, cited in Anfara & Mertz,

2006).

         The selection of participants in the study was shaped by the proposition of apprenticeship. The

selection of the research site also reflected a key proposition of the Community of Practice. The site,

based in school where the teachers work, reflected the notion that knowledge and skills are most

effectively learnt through participating in activities embedded in authentic cultural contexts (Brown,

Collins & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991).
              Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers               6


                 The theoretical framework also supported the data analysis process by helping

researchers make sense of the data collected (Merriam, 1998, cited in Anfara & Mertz, 2006). For

example, the construct of “border communities” provided important insights during the data analysis

process. The authors cited Wenger (1998) who highlights that communities often share permeable

boundaries with “border communities” like those that emerged in this study. This proposition shed light

on why peer-teachers frequently interacted with members of their “border communities” outside the

Collaborative Apprenticeship program. Hammersley (2005) has questioned the idea that communities of

practice are autonomous and self-sufficient. The findings in the study have supported Hammersley’s

assertion.

        In this study, the COP theory played a role in revealing implicit dynamics which were occurring in

the community (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). It provided a “model or map of why the world is the way it is”

(Strauss, 1995, cited in Anfara & Mertz, p. xiv). The authors of this study effectively used the proposition

of the Community of Practice to a large extent in formulating its major components.

        3.2      Article 2 Summary and Analysis

Barab, S. A, Barnett, M. & Squire, K. (2002). Developing an empirical account of a community of practice:
        Characterizing the essential tensions. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(4), 489–542.

        This study examined novice teachers’ participation in a Community of Teachers (CoT) program

which prepares pre-service teachers for secondary teacher certification. Participants attended weekly

seminars at the university throughout their 4-year training. Activities included discussions and

preparation of a personal assessment portfolio. Concurrently, teachers gained secondary school-based

experience under the guidance of a mentor teacher.

        The study focused on “dualities” (Wenger, 1998) or “systemic tensions” (Engeström, 1987) pre-

service teachers experienced as a result of participating in community activities at the university, and

field-experience at schools. These very similar constructs are drawn from Communities of Practice (Lave

& Wenger, 1991) and Activity Theory (Engeström, 1987).
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                 7


        Article 2 Analysis

        Orlikow and Young (1993, cited in Canen, 1999) have highlighted the paucity of ethnographic

studies to describe the intricacies of teacher education sites and practices altogether. This ethnographic

study addresses a gap in the literature. This study has been framed using a very similar construct shared

by both frameworks, which are “dualities” (COP) and “tension” (Activity Theory). Although activity

theory is not as well-known as situated cognition in sociocultural learning discourse, this theory is

increasingly being applied “to illustrate how adult learners are cultural and historical agents embedded

within and constituted by social relations and tool-mediated activity, as depicted by the Vygotskian

tradition” (Niewolny & Wilson, 2009, p.31). According to Engeström (1987) activity systems are

characterized by their internal contradictions, which are also known as “tensions”. Tensions can be

thought of as system dualities, and are beneficial for a community because they potentially drive

innovation, change and development (Barab, Barnett, Yamagata-Lynch, Squire & Keating, 2002).

        In this study, Activity Theory and Communities of Practice elements have shaped component

parts of the study in various ways (Mertz & Anfara, 2006). The research goal, for example was

formulated based on the notion of systemic tensions. The goal of the study was to examine tensions

which resulted from pre-service teachers’ participation in their university and school communities.

        Anfara and Mertz stated that the choice of methodologies is linked to the theory. They added

that the selection of theory comes with its related array of guiding epistemologies. Choice of

methodologies would in turn determine the methods of data collection and analysis. The link between

theory, methodological approaches and related data collection methods was evident in this study. The

authors added that the study was based on an “ethnomethodological approach” (Barab et al, p. 502),

pointing out that ethnography is the preferred methodology for understanding community life (Geertz,

1976, cited in Barab et al, 2002). The researchers mentioned that their data collection methods were

consistent with an ethnographic approach. Data was collected through extensive observations, semi-
             Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                 8


structured and informal interviews and document analysis of the pre-service teachers’ portfolios, which

is consistent with an ethnographic approach. According to Hammersley & Atkinson (1995), “A qualitative

or ethnographic approach assumes that the cultural practices of members of a social group can be

uncovered by listening to the language and observing the actions” (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995, cited

in Frank & Uy, 2004, p. 270 ). Using these ethnographic methods, the researchers were able to

determine tensions participants faced as the participated in community activities. The link between

theory, methodological approach and choice of data collection methods was clearly established in this

study.

         In the data analysis component, the proposition of dualities (Wenger, 1998) and systemic

tensions (Engeström, 1987) provided conceptual categories for discussion, together with the diametrical

structure for discussing themes which emerged from the analysis:

1. Instructor as facilitator and as gatekeeper [facilitator vs. gatekeeper]
2. Learning theory and doing practice [theory vs. practice]
3. Portfolio as supporting reflection and as accountability device [reflection vs. accountability]
4. Stability and change [stability vs. change]

         In the concluding section of the study, propositions of Activity Theory and COP were used to

support the implications of the findings. The authors concluded that it is important to identify tensions

(or dualities) that arise in a community in order to uncover factors that bring about change and

innovation (Barab, et al, 2002; Engeström, 1987).

         The study consistently incorporated theoretical elements of Activity theory and Communities of

Practice to a great extent in all major components of the investigation. It demonstrated how “the

concepts, constructs, and propositions that are part and parcel of a theory help the researcher in

formulating…component parts of the research process” (Mertz & Anfara, 2006, p. 192).
             Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                9


3.3     Article 3 Summary and Analysis

Lambson, D. (2010). Novice teachers learning through participation in a teacher study group. Teaching
      and Teacher Education, 26, 1660-1668. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2010.06.017.

        This case study focused on the experiences of three first-year novice teachers (NTs) who

participated in a study group aimed at strengthening practice in teaching reading strategies in literature.

The other participants in the study group included a facilitator and several experienced teachers. The

research setting was in an elementary school.

        Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger, 1998) informed the study. “Legitimate peripheral

participation” was the key proposition used to examine the NTs changing practice in the course of a

year.

        During bi-weekly meetings, novices and their more experienced peers took part in discussions,

shared classroom accounts and commented on one another’s stories/talk and shared artifacts. In order

to facilitate peripheral participation for the newly qualified teachers, group procedures were modified,

simplified and even waived at various points. Many forms of mentoring practices were also observed

during the study. The findings of the study revealed that through legitimate peripheral participation, the

NTs’ practice, discourse and thinking were becoming more aligned to the goals and practices of the

community.

        Article 3 Analysis

        According to Mertz & Anfara (2006), the theoretical framework frames every aspect of the study

in terms of the research questions, selection of samples and also the data analysis. In this case study,

the research goal and design of the study reflected a key proposition of the COP framework. Lave and

Wenger (1991) describe legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) as the means through which

newcomers participate and learn as they engage in communities of practice.

        In a study of how novices develop expertise, the case method is appropriate because “the case

study produces the type of context-dependent knowledge that research on learning shows to be
              Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers               10


necessary to allow people to develop from rule-based beginners to virtuoso experts” (Flyvbjerg, 2006,

p.221).

          Elements of the theory guided the formulation of the research questions. The research

questions were formulated based on the proposition of legitimate peripheral participation.

1. What was the experience of these beginning teachers as new members of this ongoing teacher study
group?
2. What were the roles of the facilitator and the more experienced teachers in contributing to the
novice teachers’ participation and learning?

          The first research question suggested that the study would examine the experiences of

beginning teachers participating under “attenuated conditions of legitimate peripheral participation”,

where newcomers engage in the “actual practice of an expert, but only to a limited degree and with

limited responsibility” (Hanks, 1991, cited in Lave & Wenger, 1991, p.14). The second question is based

on the proposition that the process of legitimate peripheral participation is characterized by modified

forms of participation structured to accommodate participation by novices (Wenger, 1998).

          In the data analysis section, however, overt references to theory were not evident. Only those

familiar with theoretical propositions of legitimate participation and apprenticeship in COP would be

able to detect implicit references. For example, the authors highlighted that “the novices ’ participation

illustrates movement from more peripheral to more central modes of participation with changing

participation involving both qualitative and quantitative differences” (Lambson, 2010, p.1163). This was

not connected explicitly with any references to legitimate peripheral participation, apprenticeship,

interaction, or any other elements of the COP.

          Although connections to theory were implied, the authors did, to a great extent, use theoretical

elements in the data analysis to provide “a lens highlighting the ways these veteran teachers opened up

the practices of the community to the novice teachers, facilitating and mediating their engagement in

the work of the group (Lambson, 2010, p. 1667, Lave & Wenger, 1991). As such, the Communities of
              Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers            11


Practice lens was used effectively to describe and explain acculturation processes that were occurring in

the reading strategies study group.

        3.4      Article 4 Summary and Analysis

Ethel, R. G., & McMeniman, M. M. (2000). Unlocking the knowledge in action of an expert practitioner.
         Journal of Teacher Education, 51, 87-101. doi:10.1177/002248710005100203.

        The study focused on a cognitive intervention program to help pre-service teachers gain access

to thinking processes underlying the practice of an expert teacher. The goal of the program was to help

novice teachers adopt expert thinking processes, link theory to practice more explicitly and become

more reflective practitioners.

        This study was informed by Situated Cognition and Cognitive Apprenticeship (Collins, Brown and

Newman, 1989).

        During workshops, novice teachers watched video recordings of an expert teacher articulating

tacit thinking processes during his classroom practice. The novice teachers then engaged in collaborative

reflection and analysis of their own thinking and practice. They also responded to the expert’s

videotaped commentary on his own practice. . Novices reflected upon the implications of the

experience for their future practice. The researchers concluded that the study demonstrated the

importance of helping trainee teachers to explicitly understand links between theoretical and

procedural aspects of their practice, so that they may gain insights into their own and experts’

“knowledge-in-action”

        Article 4 Analysis:

        In a community of practice, managers facilitate the transfer of knowledge across the

organization in several ways (Brown and Duguid, 1991; Roberts, 2006). In a situated learning context,

one of the ways is through cognitive apprenticeship where students observe, engage in, and discover

expert strategies in their authentic context of use (Collins, Brown & Holum, 1991). Students are provided

access to expert thinking through cognitive modeling, whereby the expert’s tacit decision making and
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                 12


problem solving processes are made visible through articulation. The main aim of cognitive

apprenticeship is to enable apprentices to gain a more informed understanding of expert thinking, and

be able to apply the understanding to their own thinking and practice (Collins, Brown & Holum, 1991).

Although the authors did not mention it, this study has the characteristics of a descriptive case study.

This type of case study is used to describe an intervention or phenomenon and the real-life context in

which it occurred (Baxter & Jack, 2008; Yin, 2009).

        The theoretical framework shaped this study in several important ways. The concepts,

constructs and propositions of the theory helped the researcher to formulate research questions, select

samples, code data and analyze data (Mertz & Anfara, 2006).

        The selection of site for video recording the expert in the classroom was based on a key

construct emphasizing the importance of embedding practice in authentic contexts. According to Collins,

Brown and Hollum (1991), it is imperative to “situate abstract tasks in authentic contexts, so that

students understand the relevance of the work (to their own practice)” (p. 3).

        The selection of participants was also directly influenced by the theory. An expert teacher was

chosen to model cognitive and metacognitive processes underlying his practice, while a group of novice

teachers participated as apprentices, learning by watching the expert practitioner make his thinking

visible to them.

        The data collection methods in this study were also influenced by propositions of Cognitive

Apprenticeship. Collins, Brown and Hollum (1991) stressed that, “teachers need to identify the

processes of the task and make them visible to students” (p. 3) through articulation. Based on this

construct, a video recording was made of an expert teacher providing commentary on his own practice.

“By bringing these tacit processes into the open, students can observe, enact, and practice them with

help from the teacher and from other students” (ibid, p.3). Data in the form of student reflections was

also based on an important construct in the theory. Student reflections made their thinking visible to the
              Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers              13


instructor. According to Collins et al, “… the student's thinking must (also) be made visible to the

teacher” (p.3) to enable facilitators to track students’ meta-cognitive processes more effectively when

offering guidance. This study generally incorporated a rich variety of data sources, which is a distinctive

feature of qualitative case studies (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007).

        The theoretical framework was used to a great extent in this study. It was evident how it

provided a structure to anchor the study by forcing the researcher to be accountable to ensure that the

methodology, the data, and the data analysis were consistent with the theory (Mertz & Anfara, 2006). In

this study, Cognitive Apprenticeship trained a lens on how novice teachers come to understand

“knowledge-in-action” and “knowledge-on-action” of expert practice. The theory also functioned as

instructional principles that fostered reflective practice in novice teachers.

        3.5      Article 5 Summary and Analysis

Eick, C. J., Ware, F. N. & Williams, P. G. (2003). Coteaching in a science methods course: A situated
          learning model of becoming a teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 74-85.

        This study examined a situated learning model of co-teaching implemented during the fieldwork

component of a science methods course. Pre-service teachers from a secondary science methods course

were paired with a mentor-teacher in a secondary school. In the first period, the teachers observed and

assisted their mentor-teachers. In the following period, they would teach the same lesson with their

mentors’ assistance. Pre-service teachers participated peripherally by observing and reflecting on both

their teacher’s practice and their own practice. Analysis of the data revealed positive outcomes that

resulted from the co-teaching experience.

        The theoretical framework underpinning this study was Situated Cognition based primarily of

the work of Brown, Collins, &Duguid (1989) and Lave (1996).

        Article 5 Analysis

        Situated Cognition is a theory of instruction which posits that knowledge and skills are acquired

through activity embedded in authentic cultural contexts (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). Brown et al.
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                   14


posited that learning is a process of enculturation into the cultural practices of the community. These

cultural practices must be developed contextually over time because they are often tacit and complex.

Participating in authentic activity provides members with opportunities “to observe and practice in situ

the behavior of members of a culture, people pick up relevant jargon, imitate behavior and gradually

start to act in accordance with its norms” (ibid. p.34).

        The theory of Situated Cognition played various functions in this study. Firstly, it influenced the

design of the co-teaching program which emphasized situated activity. Through co-teaching with an

expert, pre-service teachers developed their knowledge and practice and applied them in the authentic

context of practical teaching.

        In the literature review, the theoretical framework contextualized the research and knowledge

contributions by giving common meanings to concepts across disciplines (Anfara & Mertz, 2006). By

using terms and references of Situated Cognition, the authors contextualized the research in a scholarly

conversation and provided a vernacular for common understanding (Anfara & Mertz, 2006).

        The data analysis section, however, lacked evidence of the use of conceptual terms from the

theory in discussing the findings. Instead the researchers used terms that did not situate the study in

scholarly research. Fairly generic references like “learning on the spot through active teacher

assistance” were used to categorize the data and discuss the findings (Eick, Ware & Williams, 2003, p.

79). The authors did not make overt references to the theoretical propositions or constructs in their

data analysis or discussion.

        The overall lack of references to Situated Cognition in the discussion possibly points to the “soft”

use of theory, as opposed to the strong use of theory proposed by Geertz (1973, cited in Henstrand,

2006, p. 18). Geertz emphasized the need for applying strong theory in qualitative research in order to

elevate it to the level of science. Besides this, tying a study closely to theory also increases the rigor of a

study and makes it more understandable across various disciplines (Henstrand, ibid).
               Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers            15


        Although theoretical elements of Situated Cognition were only implied in the discussion and

findings, they provided a useful and enlightening way to describe how pre-service teachers benefited

from applying their skills and knowledge through practical teaching, with the guidance of a mentor. The

theoretical elements of Situated Cognition, to a large extent, were incorporated in the conceptualization

of major components of this study.

        3.6       Article 6 Summary and Analysis

Alger, C. L. & Kopcha, T. J. (2011). Technology supported cognitive apprenticeship transforms the
         student teaching field experience: Improving the student teaching field experience for all triad
         members. The Teacher Educator, 46(1), 71–88.

        This study examined trainee teachers’ experience of eSupervision, an online teaching

supervision program. This program was created to improve novices’ field experience by integrating key

Cognitive Apprenticeship elements into its design. These elements include modeling, scaffolding,

coaching, articulation, reflection, and community. Nine student teaching triads (two supervisors

assigned to nine student teachers and their guide teachers) participated for a semester in this year-long

credential program.

        Resources in the online environment included discussion boards and instructional materials

related to lesson planning, implementation, student assessment and reflection. Assessment guides to

learning and performance were also included to scaffold novices’ performance. The findings indicated

that the supervision program enhanced the field experience for students by focusing their thinking,

engendering a feeling of community and fostering a greater sense of preparation to join the workforce

of teachers.

        Article 6 Analysis

        Theoretical propositions of Cognitive Apprenticeship functioned as design principles for the

online eSupervision program and as a lens to examine novices’ experience of it. As a pedagogical tool,
               Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                16


this strategy enabled novices to engage in activities that fostered coaching, articulation, reflection and

community in the online discussion forum” (Alger & Kopcha, p.75).

           The data analysis and findings were supported by elements of the theoretical framework. As a

theoretical lens, the propositions of Cognitive Apprenticeship provided categories and terms in the data

analysis component. Students’ experiences of the program were categorized according to modeling,

scaffolding, coaching, articulation, reflection, and community, which are key Cognitive Apprenticeship

strategies. Elements of the theory were integrated into the discussion, thereby situating it within a

scholarly conversation and offering means to build upon and link a study to the broader body of

literature in the field of Situated Cognition and Cognitive Apprenticeship (Harris, 2006).

           The elements of Cognitive Apprenticeship helped to provide insights on participants’ experience

of participating in the eSupervision program. The theoretical lens provided insights which broadened the

traditional perspective of apprenticeship relationships. It helped to extend the notion of “who can serve

as a model, how scaffolding can be delivered and who can act as a coach” (Alger & Kopcha, 2011, p.84).

The authors highlighted that these insights are directly tied to the characteristics of learning

environments designed for cognitive apprenticeships, including authenticity in terms of learning context,

participant activity, collaboration of participants and reflective practice (ibid).

4.0        Review of Analyses

           My research question is: ““To what extent did theoretical propositions shape major components

of these studies?”

      i.   Congruence Between Theory and Context

           The question of fit will arise when selecting a theoretical framework for a particular context.

What a researcher can do is to design a fit between the problem, theoretical framework, methods and

analysis (Kearney & Hyle, 2006). This strategy was adopted by the researchers of the various articles

reviewed. All the studies featured onsite training of pre-service or newly qualified teachers. Therefore,
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                 17


Situated Cognition, Community of Practice, Cognitive Apprenticeship and Activity Theory were

appropriate lenses to apply to these contexts. Teacher development programs that are designed based

on these theories, such as the ones reviewed, imply a focus on developing understanding of, and in,

practice (Dall'Alba & Sandberg, 2006). As such, there was pedagogical and theoretical congruence

between the contexts studied and the theoretical lenses used to examine them.

        ii. Selection of Proposition from Theory

        The researchers of these studies only chose specific propositions from each theory to frame

their investigation. This is consistent with Denzin and Lincoln’s proposal that it is up to the researcher to

select relevant pieces of the theory to fit the context (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003b, cited in Anfara & Mertz,

2006). For example, Lambson (2010) only focused on legitimate peripheral participation from the COP

framework. Barab et al. focused on very similar propositions of systemic tensions from Activity Theory

and dualities from Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1998). Ethell & McMeniman (2000) focused their

study using the construct of articulation of expert thinking processes from Cognitive Apprenticeship.

        Selecting a single proposition or construct from each theoretical framework contributed to the

critical framing of each study, and ensured that the research focus remained sharp, and that only the

most relevant forms of data relevant to the proposition were collected. Selecting a specific proposition

narrowed the focus of each study and provided a potentially deeper and nuanced understanding of the

phenomenon investigated.

        iii. Consistent Application of Theory in Major Components of Study

        Generally, the researchers’ choices of propositions from their respective theories were used to a

great extent to guide the conceptualization of major components of their studies. In several studies,

however, references to theory were not overtly made in the data analysis and findings sections.

References to theoretical constructs were implied, but these connections were not explicitly signaled.

The only article which featured theory consistently and explicitly throughout all its components was
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers               18


Barab et al.’s study “Developing an empirical account of a community of practice: Characterizing the

essential tensions”. A stronger use of theory, as suggested by Geertz (1973, cited in Anfara & Mertz,

2006), would have increased the rigor of the investigations, and situated the studies more strongly

within scholarly conversation.

        iv. Means of Understanding Processes and Interaction in Communities

        Overall, theoretical elements underpinning each study provided a means of making meaningful

sense of interactions and processes that were occurring in the different contexts. The theoretical

propositions and constructs added richness, subtlety and complexity to “what appear at first glance to

be simple phenomena, and allow(ed) for building a repertoire for understandings, diverse perspectives”

of these contexts (Mertz & Anfara, p. 190, in Anfara & Mertz). The theories functioned effectively as

analytical and interpretive frameworks that helped researchers make sense of how teacher communities

not only shared knowledge but also created, organized, revised and passed on knowledge among new

members of the community (Seaman, 2008).

5.0     Conclusion:

        Theoretical propositions from various frameworks have been effectively used to a great extent

to frame research involving enculturation processes of newly qualified teachers and pre-service novices.

These theoretical frameworks strengthened the argument that situated professional development can

assist newly qualified teachers and novice practitioners in developing “understanding of, and in,

practice” and can “contribute to progressively engaging (them) with the contexts and issues they are to

learn to tackle, while enhancing their understanding in meaningful and effective ways” (Dall'Alba &

Sandberg, 2006, p.397; Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1991).
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers              19


References: Articles Reviewed


Alger, C. L. & Kopcha, T. J. (2011). Technology supported cognitive apprenticeship transforms the
         student teaching field experience: Improving the student teaching field experience for all triad
         members. The Teacher Educator, 46(1), 71–88.

Barab, S. A, Barnett, M. & Squire, K. (2002). Developing an empirical account of a community of practice:
        Characterizing the essential tensions. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 11(4), 489–542.

Eick, C. J., Ware, F. N. & Williams, P. G. (2003). Coteaching in a science methods course: A situated
          learning model of becoming a teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(1), 74-85.

Ethel, R. G., & McMeniman, M. M. (2000). Unlocking the knowledge in action of an expert practitioner.
         Journal of Teacher Education, 51, 87-101. doi:10.1177/002248710005100203.

Glazer, E. M., Hannafin, M. J., Polly, D. & Rich, P. (2009). Factors and interactions influencing
        technology integration during situated professional development in an elementary school.
        Computers in the Schools, 26(1), 21-39.

Lambson, D. (2010). Novice teachers learning through participation in a teacher study group. Teaching
      and Teacher Education, 26, 1660-1668. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2010.06.017.

References: Theoretical or Practical Discussions of Methods

Baxter, P. & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for
        novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544-559.

Eisenhardt, K., & Graebner, M. (2007). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and challenges.
       Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 25-32.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 219-
        245. doi:10.1177/1077800405284363.

Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (1995). Ethnography: Principles in practice (2nd ed.). Cited in C. R. Frank
     & F. L. Uy (2004). Ethnography for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 55(3), 269-
     283. doi:10.1177/0022487104263978.

Hammersley, M. (2005). What can the literature on communities of practice tell us about educational
     research? Reflections on some recent proposals. International Journal of Research & Method in
     Education, 28(1), 5-21. doi:10.1080/01406720500036653.

Orlikow, L., & Young, J. L. (1993). The struggle for change: Teacher education in Canada. In A. Canen
       (1999). The challenges of conducting an ethnographic case study of a United Kingdom teacher
       education institution. Journal of Teacher Education, 50(1), 50-56.
       doi:10.1177/002248719905000106.
            Situated Professional Development for Pre-service and Newly-qualified Teachers                   20



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