Teacher Educators’ Practice and Vision of Good Teaching in Teacher Education Reform Context in Ghana

Berikut ini disajikan abstrak dan kesimpulan dari sebuah jurnal internasional dengan judul "Teacher Educators’ Practice and Vision of Good Teaching in Teacher Education Reform Context in Ghana".

Abstrak Keterangan
Penulis Akyeampong, Kwame
Jumlah Kata dalam Abstrak 203
Jumlah Kata dalam Kesimpulan 1002
DOI 10.3102/0013189X17711907
Penerbit Educational Researcher, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 194–203

Abstrak

Teacher education in sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) has been criticized for the lack of attention to learning to teach in real classrooms, which limits the opportunity for pre-service teachers to successfully introduce learner-centered pedagogy in African primary school classrooms. To address this problem, Ghana has implemented a teacher education reform since 2004 to incorporate practicum. However, the critical role of teacher educators has been overlooked by policymakers, and few studies have qualitatively investigated their practice and vision. The study draws on qualitative data from the Ghana component of the Teacher Preparation in Africa (TPA) research project to explore eight teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching of primary mathematics. The study found that teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching consist of the use of teaching and learning materials (TLMs) and small group activities following specific steps without understanding the principles of learner-centered pedagogy that could be applied in a variety of classroom contexts and mathematics topics. The study also identified the hierarchical relationship between teacher educators and school teachers as a major challenge for effective practicum, limiting the opportunity to transform teacher educators’ vision and practice of primary mathematics teaching. Recommendations for enhancing professional learning opportunities for teacher educators are offered.

Kesimpulan

Policymakers and researchers often make the assumption that the teacher education reform of incorporating practicum would provide better learning opportunities for pre-service teachers to learn how to practice learner-centered pedagogy in real classroom contexts. This study has revealed that teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching continue to influence preservice teachers’ practice despite the incorporation of practicum. This points to the importance of understanding teacher educators’ role in improving pre-service teachers’ instruction. As this study shows, teacher educators’ approaches to teaching primary mathematics retain its didactic nature even when the aim is to teach learner-centered methods. Their vision of good teaching is not based on deep knowledge of what it is like to teach in primary schools because it excludes knowledge derived from critical and reflective dialogue with pre-service teachers and mentors. Instead, it is drawn mainly from their university methods course, college textbooks, and the experience of senior colleagues. This usurps the intention of practicum, which instead comes to stand for an opportunity to determine whether pre-service teachers have implemented the “innovative teaching methods” as they were taught.

The teacher educators in our study generally perceived that they are introducing innovative teaching methods that incorporate TLMs and small group disucssions to change the traditional teaching methods such as rote learning, chorus responses, and copying and imitation. However, their belief that innovative teaching should be teacher-centered, in which the instructor demonstrates before students practice with TLMs through small group activities to discover that they all reach the same conclusion, means they do not realize the importance of understanding real classroom contexts. For them, teacher-centered innovative methods can be taught to any classroom regardless of the contexts. This is because their vision of good primary mathematics has not been subjected to critical inquiry in a way that can transform it.

The good news is that teacher education in Ghana is moving in a direction similar to many countries in the world to bring college-based training closer to school-based training (e.g., in the United States; Zeichner, 2013). However, from the evidence presented in this study, the in-in-out teacher education model incorporating practicum needs to be accompanied with a paradigm shift in teacher educators’ practices of teaching methods courses and their vision of good teaching. Kennedy (2016) argues that “reasoning about practice, rather than . . . prescribing a set of practices for [pre-service teachers] to adopt” (p. 15) should be the guiding principle in teacher education. A teacher education approach based on reasoning about practice fits well with the principles underpinning learner-centered pedagogy. It creates the conditions for co-construction of pedagogical knowledge and skills where teacher educators, school mentors, and pre-service teachers subject their teaching methods to critique and analysis to promote reflective practice. Such an approach allows the classroom context to play an important part in pedagogical choices and allows pre-service teachers to give more thoughts and attention to the development of appropriate teaching approaches (Zeichner & Tabachnick, 1999).

In the context of the in-in-out teacher education program incorporating practicum in Ghana, however, the impact of the hierarchical relationship poses a significant challenge. To reduce the effect of this relationship, the first step would be to identify experienced and effective school teachers and raise their professional profile so that teacher educators feel it is worth engaging them to co-construct effective teaching based on principles of learner-centered pedagogy. Every year, through a rigorous selection process, many Ghanaian teachers are selected as “best teacher award” winners across all districts and regions, and their innovative practices are often documented by the Ministry of Education (e.g., Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, 2003). Through professional development, teacher educators could study these practices to sensitize them to their perspectives. Evidence from research on experienced school teachers’ practices in Ghana suggests some have the capacity and experience to articulate constructivist approaches to teaching and learning, under real classroom conditions where they have to balance many pressures, including teaching large classes with limited resources (Akyeampong, Pryor, & Ampiah, 2006).

Changing teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching considering the existing hierarchical relationship will have to start with bringing their own professional development much closer to the real classroom context. The goal would be to focus their professional learning on the practice of experienced and effective school teachers through a collaborative and inquiry-based approach. The National Teaching Council (NTC) established in 2014 is legally mandated to accredit teacher education programs in Ghana (Ghana Education Service, 2015). Given this role, the NTC will be the right institution to make this an important requirement for accrediting teacher education programs.

Through analyzing learner-centered methods in the environment of real classrooms incorporated into professional development activities, teacher educators in collaboration with experienced and effective teachers may be able to subject their teaching methods to critical reflection and change. The value of this approach is the space it can create for the knowledge and experience of school mentors to be valued as a resource for learning to develop context-sensitive learner-centered pedagogy.

This study is based on a small number of teacher educators from four colleges, and therefore the findings are not applicable to all teacher educators in Ghana. However, it is clear that teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching play a critical role in shaping learning opportunities of pre-service teachers and teacher education reform will not succeed without reforming the way teacher educators learn to teach pre-service teachers. More research is needed to understand the practice and preparation of teacher educators in the African context to improve the quality of teaching and students’ learning opportunities in classrooms. This study also calls for teacher education reformers in Africa to give more attention to the preparation and practice of teacher educators. The studies on the preparation and practice of teacher educators is still limited in the teacher education literature around the globe (Knight et al., 2014). This study provided some preliminary findings in the context of Ghana that could serve as the basis for further research and policy attention in African countries and elsewhere.