Autumn 1999 PEPE Newsletter Volume 5.1 INTRODUCTION At the time of writing it is mid-March, and this newsletter should reach members by mid-May. The substance of this particular PEPE Newsletter, Volume 5, Number I, is the very well attended conference held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in January of this year .Not only was the PEPE Biennial Conference well attended, but, according to feedback gathered, it was also very successful. The articles that follow testify to that. There will be two newsletters in 1999 -it is planned to have the next edition in the hands of members by mid-August. The Conference was a rich source of information for Volume 5, Number 1, but it is hoped that the substance of Volume 5, Number 2, ",ill be contributions from Members. May I urge as many Members as possible to contribute to the next edition. Information on contributing to the PEPE Newsletter appears below. We look forward to hearing from you. Contributions may be sent to Merv Fogarty Fax (07) 3864 3981 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Post School ofProfessional Studies QUT, Kelvin Grove Victoria Park Road KEL VIN GROVE QLD 4059 THE PRESIDENT'’S COLUMN Greetings for 1999 as we emerge from a post- Conference lull. Congratulations and thanks again to Neil Andersen and Laurie Millar and the Christchurch Polytechnical for a truly memorable event. At the time of writing we are still awaiting confirmation from Victoria for 2001. (Stop Press: Confirmed) Research Monograph 3 is under way with contributions from the last round of scholarship holders. Information on the next round accompanies this newsletter and will be mailed to institutions simultaneously. Despite several requests at the Conference, we still need copy for the journal. Can you help? Our Vice President, John Short, is working at putting a Home Page in place and it should be ready shortly. Here's hoping you have a great '99. (Dr) Allan Yarrow Reflections of Conference Organizers Neil Andersen and Laurie Millar Reflections by the PEPE '99 organisers on the reflections of those who attended the PEPE '99 conference OR A report by the PEPE '99 Conference organisers! With the chorus of Lynne's song still firmly in our consciousness. ..(to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") ... What a struggle-just the two To get the conference up, and running too! So all would be well for me and you At PEPE '99. I write to you on behalf of Laurie and me, to present our reflections of the conference and a summary of the written evaluations of the same. As the conference took shape, and as each decision was taken along the two-year planning pathway, we predicted the positive and negative consequences. Sure enough, the negative consequences, couched very generously and sincerely in non-antagonistic language, have appeared in the written evaluations. We knew, for example, that there would be concern at the forced choices required for the workshop sessions. We were surprised to receive over 60 requests for presentation time, but by then we had advertised the time line for the conference and lmew people would be making travel plans with these dates/times in mind. Too late to extend the programme! And who were we to decline a PEPE member's request to make a presentation anyway? So we programmed them all in! We could have actually written this review of the conference before it opened, and been about 90 per cent 'right'. However, we were more cautious than the newspaper arts reviewer referred to by Clive McGee during his review of the conference [the reporter submitted a review of a play from a bar, not knowing that the theatre had burned down and there was no actual performance to review!] But as we planned and decided on how things would look, and how things would happen, we did identify suggestions for the organisers of the next conference which the written evaluations also identified. With the suggestions Conference '99 attenders have submitted, we think we could now plan a Conference which would be better than the January '99 one -but as Laurie said, "Not in this lifetime!" Thank you most sincerely for your comments, but more importantly thank you for taking the shape of the Conference we had designed and putting your energy and contribution into it, producing the marvellous professional and social occasion that it was. We were delighted that. the efforts we had applied in the planning and organising phase enabled you to give the conference life, substance, relevance and enjoyment in such great amounts While it is always a doubtfully enjoyable task to have to complete any evaluation form, the information and opinion supplied will be of great benefit and relevance to the organisers of PEPE '01. (Doesn't fall off the tongue quite the same, does it?) We will forward the twelve pages of verbatim responses to both the PEPE President (Allan Yarrow) and to the organisers of the Melbourne conference for their interest and information. What follows is a precis of the written evaluations, with some commentary from PEPE '99 organisers. The number of workshop sessions is a difficult issue for organisers to predict and programme for . We thought we had planned for plenty , but the requests for a slot just kept on arriving. We are sympathetic to the difficulties which this caused, in having to select one of up to ten presentations. Scheduling more workshop sessions is obviously something PEPE 2001 organisers must consider. Some suggested having a four-day conference to accommodate to the desire of increasing numbers of members to present in the supportive, collegial and congenial environment which has become a hallmark of PEPE conferences. The second-most frequently identified issue in the evaluations was the need for increased membership and attendance from disciplines other than Teacher Education. At the beginning of our planning for PEPE '99, we sought, on several occasions, a representative from a variety of relevant disciplines to become part of the planning committee, and to act as a conduit into all the professions for all aspects of the Conference. It is difficult to persuade busy people to commit and contribute to such a voluntary task, and the silence in response was deafening and disappointing -disappointing to the extent of us seriously considering relinquishing responsibility for the Conference after a year of the planning time had passed. However, we decided to form a small committee of those willing, and to do our best! Knowing the risk of the Conference looking like a Teacher Education Conference to which people from other disciplines were invited, we set about creating the event, which has met with so much favourable comment and appreciation from you all that we are on the one hand delighted and on the other humbled by your appreciation. Involving all the professions which have the practicum as part of their pre-service and in- service education and training in PEPE activities will, I suggest, be a goal which will be achieved by incremental creep, rather than a big bang! If each member of PEPE undertook to 'recruit' one new member from a discipline or institution other than their own, then we would make great gains in achieving our stated goal of "facilitating the interchange of ideas, research and practices amongst educators within faculties concerned with the practicum." With a resounding affirmation, the respondents to the evaluation sheet recorded that four of the five goals of PEPE were being met through the Conferences. The goal not being met by the conference itself was obvious -"plan and publish newsletters, journals, etc ..." PEPE office holders can be certain that the style of conference they have generated met with applause and appreciation from those who attended in 1999, but at the same time they need to be aware of the costs of attending such events when air travel is involved. As professional development and conference attending funds are steadily decreasing in our institutions, the cost of conference attending contributes increasingly heavily to the selection of which conferences to attend. PEPE 2001 organisers need to consider the costings carefully. This could be alleviated to some extent through sponsorship -which, unfortunately, we did not have the resources or time to manage to better advantage. The idea of having the opportunity to attend the conference and pay for membership and or journals at the same time drew considerable support. It seems that the information folders we mailed out in May 1998 were informative and complete. We received no questions of clarification -which indicated, we thought, that we had provided all the information in a clear manner. This view is supported in the evaluations, as is the view that the spiral-bound Conference Book received at the time of registration was similarly informative and clear. The idea of printing the timetable on the outside of the back cover -for quick reference - was a good idea for the future, as was the idea of leaving an informed person on the Registration Desk for the first day after conference activities had begun -to give direction to later arrivers. The Maori welcome -powhiri -was appreciated by all. The notes seemed to have enabled those for whom this was a first experience to participate in an informed way. While 'Waltzing Matilda' did seem a different waiata, it was appropriate to the origins of the speaker who represented us. The Tangata Whenua really appreciated the strength of the singing of this waiata, and the persistence of the volume throughout! Alcohol is not a product associated with a powhiri, so in keeping with the custom, the serving of such beverages was excluded from this event by the organisers. Within the limitations commensurate with a small organising committee, there was general appreciation of the programme overall. There was general agreement also, amongst other things, that the powhiri was appropriate and enjoyable; that the collegiality which this 'family called PEPE' fosters is alive and well; that the timing of the conference in the school holidays is a good idea; and that as a venue for novices to present papers, PEPE Conference is a receptive and supportive place to do it. There was divided opinion about the free afternoon; the gender balance of the keynote speakers; the length of time given to the technology theme; the suitability of the venue (both the hotel because of cost and the Cathedral because of 'appropriateness', 'public access' and difficulty of interaction); and the quality and relevance of some of the keynote speakers/sessions. The many thoughtful ideas contributed about conferences and conference-going will be passed on to the Melbourne organisers. They will be well aware that they are catering for a committed, even passionate, group of professionals who hold their involvement in PEPE very highly -as reflected in the following representative quotes from the evaluations: I particularly enjoyed: ". ..the collegiality and sharing of visions,. passion and interest in the poor relation in academia -the Practicum " ". ..my first conference with people who appreciate the issues I'm dealing with from day to day, and who have the commitment and vision to continue this important work across disciplines and faculties. " Laurie and I want to thank all those who attended the PEPE '99 Conference for their patience, enthusiasm and contribution. We were delighted that the event provided everyone with the opportunity to experience professional growth, challenge, support and social interaction. We too are looking forward to being part of the Melbourne event! CONFERENCE REVIEWER NOTES Techniques, Technology, Tensions Dr Clive McGee, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean, Teacher Education, University of Waikato I found the task of reviewing the conference, from a teacher education standpoint, a somewhat daunting, but intriguing, challenge. The reality of the task was to attempt, perhaps rather ambitiously, to study the contents of presentations and get a sense of what was present, and what could have been. It was impossible to read all the papers, partly because of time, but also because not all were handed into registration at the conference beginning. I saw about 23 of the 36 papers; I used abstracts for the remainder. My approach was to see whether I could detect emerging themes, in addition to the three main themes of the conference: tensions, techniques and technology .The conference booklet listed 18 papers as primarily in the tensions theme, 18 in the techniques strand, and just one in the technology theme. The latter, however, occupied a whole morning of presentations with no papers as such. In reporting, in the following notes, I have mentioned some names of paper authors and/or presenters -dangerous, I know, because of inevitable omissions. I also point to areas that I believe are in need of research attention, or other scholarly considerations, in the hope that people who work in practicum may be encouraged to consider them as worthy of their attention. If this occurs, and suggestions are taken up, the shape of, and topics in, future PEPE conferences may change. From this conference, I got a strong sense that the practicum field has a vibrancy about it, with teacher education gaining benefit from the influence of work in other occupational settings. What was particularly encouraging was the emergence of more people who have done successful postgraduate work in practicum-related topics. Several recent doctorate holders were present, and they are going to be future assets: to push toward a greater research profile. I want to go on, now, to discuss themes. Having looked over the papers, I think there is a need for more work on what could be called the philosophy of practicum. We need more speculative work. We know a lot about factors that make practicum successful; perhaps now, we need more theorising. Do we have any givens that can be worked into propositions? We know, for example, that we need certain kinds of cooperating ( or associate) teachers. Are we ready to describe them more thoroughly, and explain why they need to be like this? What do they know? Do we use that knowledge? Diane Mayer and Jon Austin's paper on personal practical theories was a valuable contribution. So was the paper of Joy Goodfellow and Jennifer Sumsion. The work on conversations in supervision presented by Jacqui Mather and Alan Scully is an example of an attempt to theorise practice. Similarly, we need more work on paradigms of teaching and practicum. Ken Zeichner's keynote presentation -elaborated in a discussion prior to my summing-up -was framed in the reflective practitioner model. Probably the prevalent espoused paradigm in the 1990s, but not always meaning the same things to different people, it nevertheless contrasts with the trained technocrats model. While the technocratic view remains strong, especially among conservative politicians and accountability advocates, the sense I gained from this conference is that the latter is not a favoured option among many teacher educators close to the practicum. Susan Groundwater- Smith ' s keynote presentation of her extensive work on learning portfolios showed the valuable contribution of some researchers -like her -who have tried to understand the practicum by problematising it and setting it in the specific contexts in which it occurs. In effect, the reflective approach tries to get student teachers to develop the skills and professional attributes to handle the situations they will meet. This is an emancipatory , justice- for-all orientation that can be sensed in a number of conference contributions. This is in strong contrast to a more rigid, pre- ordained skills-based practicum curriculum; and we heard little about that at the conference. So, taken together, the keynote addresses by Zeichner and Groundwater-Smith represent outstanding position papers on theorising the practicum to achieve enhanced knowledge about it, and subsequently, more effectiveness. These presentations avoid the pitfall of the persistent division between theory and practice that so many teacher educators acquiesce to. To me, the papers reduce this distinction. Practicum learning becomes praxis, where theory and practice are linked, and theory is informed by practice. A number of presentations have connections with the former view: Rosie Le Cornu' s work on inclusive practicum to build personally-owned professional knowledge; Maggie Clark's presentation on portfolios; colleague-to-colleague relationships is in the work of Tathia Shield, Raelene Fratz and Kay Martinez; and Collin Gibbs on helping student-teachers develop metacognitive awareness to achieve control over their actions. And there were others! A lot of work has been done in recent years on partnerships between teacher education institutions and schools. A number of papers reported further efforts, for example, Lyn Bird, and Sue Graham and Christina Thornley, is in a new teacher education programme. The report by Allan Yarrow of the ARC Collaboration study in Queensland is worth attention for the project is one of those ground-breaking studies of how to get the wider range of partners to work together . Roy Ballantyne's analysis of UK models I also found useful. Other useful papers were the ones by Robyn Ewing and David Smith, and by Bridget Leggett. It was also good to see tensions report, by Jill Manitzky, for example (something I will comment upon later). These are all important avenues for further exploration; really, it is the politics of practicum! We should be warned by the UK situation where the theory-practice dichotomy opened so wide that a big slice of teacher education was dumped onto schools. I think there are serious issues in the schools' end of partnerships, in terms of what teachers can put into them (and whose voices were largely unheard here). The paper by Catherine Sinclair and Judith Thistleton-Martin was a valuable report of factors causing tensions for teachers. Another issue is the link between pre and in- service teacher education. In many places there is quite a gap; but should there be? So, I was interested in a report by Peter McNally and Kay Martinez on research into ways to bridge this gap; and doing this by working with official decision- makers ( e.g. Queensland Board of Teacher Registration and the Australian Teaching Council). It may lead to less "wastage" in the beginning teacher phase. This brings me to say that perhaps PEPE ought to be looking at its role in the politics of teacher education, and practicum in particular .Are there ways of developing a collective voice? Could a collective voice be found? Do we want to find one? One of the side-effects of the promotion of greater competition between teacher education institutions is that a collective voice is less likely; individual institutions can be picked off. Perhaps more importantly, less cooperation and the lack of a common voice means little participation in political decision-making. Also, we need studies on local politics; and inside institutions, too, for at the conference I heard comments about continuing problems with the status of practicum inside institutions and struggles to achieve adequate resourcing of the practicum part of pre- service programmes. Associated with this issue is another very serious one. There may need to be more attempts to develop a common curriculum of the practicum (epistemology); or, at least, work done to find out if such a thing is possible and if it is desirable. Is there any benefit from a curriculum which would be the basis of negotiated conditions to ensure its delivery? (For example, funding by government or state agencies of an appropriate amount of practicum in pre-service and beginning teacher programmes.) Currently, I feel we -as a teacher education enterprise -are at risk if we cannot answer questions like: How much practicum is necessary? What should be done on practicum? What is effective practicum? How do we know when effectiveness has been achieved? Work such as that reported by Robyn Ewing and David Smith and others is valuable here because there are developing links between state outcomes and programme outcomes. The designers and teachers are consciously trying to forge the links. Furthermore, university teachers and school teachers are working together (but, as Ewing and Smith say, it is early days!) This issue is controversial and difficult. Engaging in teacher education at a distance from the offering institution is obviously one of the growth areas of the 1990s. There has been quite a lot of reporting at conferences on teacher education about organisational arrangements, and the putting of materials onto the web, etc., but not a lot on the impact upon the learners (student teacher). This is an area in need of more research so it was good to see a study like Di Bloomfield's on student teacher "voices" being reported and Paul Herschell's paper. We need more of this. It is also a quality issue, too, and Ruth Mansell reminds us of some of these, though not specifically for distance education. Another matter that has received little serious academic attention is ethics and the practicum (and the law, for that matter). I would expect to see more of ethics in future conferences. Anee- Maree Dawson' s paper was valuable for opening up the issue; so, too, was the NZ Privacy Commissioner on privacy as one aspect of ethics. Case studies need to be researched and reported, for I am sure that we are not all' squeaky clean , when it comes to ethical issues and practicum. Appraisal of practicum is another important issue, and was raised in a paper by Rob Thompson. Although he studied beginning teachers, there are issues for pre-service teachers and their assessors, too. As the 'number crunching' assessment systems have declined, we need to be sure that the replacement approaches are superior to them, or at least as good. The societies represented at this conference are increasingly racially and culturally diverse. Yet there was little about the practicum in diverse cultural settings. So, more research is needed on practicum in settings of racial, ethnic and linguistic difference and diversity -surely, a possible conference theme of the future. How did the conference themes emerge? 1. The standout theme was tensions. What struck me was that I think there is now a more realistic acceptance that there are tensions associated with practicum, which have to be faced and resolved. Numerous papers drew attention to various tensions. I think this is a theme that must be pursued in future research and theorising. This renewed realism "puts a lot of cards on the table" and helps us look for progress in resolving issues, or at least to reduce any damaging effects. As I said before, to bring the wider range of participants into the arena will strengthen the hand of those of us who work in practicum, for we have the chance to strengthen our support base. 2.Techniques was the next most pervasive theme via the papers, for example, the keynotes on portfolios (Susan Groundwater- Smith) and upon action research to encourage reflective practice (Ken Zeichner). The assessment of practicum is a matter of ongoing concern, which requires further work to refine techniques. From the days of lists of competencies to check, we have moved to alternative forms of assessment such as portfolios. But a lot more investigation of these approaches is necessary, and should be reported in future conferences. 3. Technology. It was clear from this conference that computers and related technologies are bringing about fundamental changes to the practicum. There are numerous associated issues of quality control, assessment, and so on. I anticipate that soon PEPE conferences will hear reports of our attempts to utilise these developments. The beginnings were evident. I thought it valuable to have a morning of demonstrations and explanations of what technology is capable of. I got the impression, though, that we have not really made much headway with the more sophisticated levels of computer technology in the practicum. There maybe scope for creating "virtually real" practicum for student teachers to work on prior to real practicum, but none of the presentations on computer use were specifically utilised for practicum. There are, of course, issues of commercialism versus education; problematic, indeed. There seems to be sense in institutions cooperating to develop computer-assisted learning, a task that requires considerable resource input. But how likely is this when the shifting ideology in teacher education is towards greater competition between institutions, and a more 'precious' view of property and development? This is paradoxical, considering that if the presentations on technology taught us anything, it was that we are all caught up in increasing globalisation. 'Private' and precious ownership of knowledge is at odds with globalisation and open access to knowledge. Conclusion Overall, there were many conference presentations that demonstrated an encouraging amount of activity on critiquing and investigating a range of topics and issues. Many of these studies were embedded in local circumstances; they were contextualised. The prevailing research methodology paradigm for the work reported at the conference was qualitative. Qualitative methods seem appropriate for many practicum topics, but they need to be used with rigour and care, as Groundwater-Smith pointed out. Nor should quantitative research methods, not much in evidence, be abandoned. The overriding ideology of teacher education was the reflective practitioner one, with many presenters claiming that emancipatory, justice-for-all practicum experiences are necessary in today's world. In adopting this stance, care must be taken that practicum workers do not become vulnerable to more technocratic, competency measurement approaches that politicians and funding decision- makers may favour. We need to work towards a more identifiable curriculum for the practicum with more clearly developed strategies, a curriculum and strategies that avoid the pointless theory-practice divide, and provide answers and solutions to be used when we face political and funding pressures about the place and value of practicum. The conference has shown that while we have made good progress in certain areas, there is still much to be done and achieved. We have a lot of work to do.
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