Meaningfulness Via Participation: Sociocultural Practices for Teacher Learning and Development

Oct. 25, 2009

Source: Teachers and Teaching, Volume 15, Issue 5 (October 2009), pages 601 – 616.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of this study is to investigate the nature of student-teachers' learning practices in primary school chemistry classroom contexts.

The specific research goals for this study are:
1. to study the social structure and problem-solving content of collaborative activity in the chemistry education classroom, and
2. to study how student-teachers conceptualize their learning of chemistry teacherhood in their written narratives.

Research Questions

The research goals were approached with the help of the following research questions:
1. How did the members of the chemistry education classroom participate in the joint activity building?
2. Which problem-solving elements were present in the course of joint activity building in the chemistry education classroom?
3. How did the student-teachers evaluate their learning outcomes in their writings related to their participation in the teacher education course?

The theoretical approach of this study is based on the sociocultural view of learning and development, which holds a conception of the learner as a cultural and historical subject, embedded within and constituted by a network of social relationships and interaction within the culture in question.


40 university students (two groups of 20 students) participated in the study at the Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Oulu University, Finland. One teacher was responsible for the course. The participants were second-year student-teachers attending a compulsory course on chemistry teaching.

This qualitative case study follows a three-step research design: pre-narrative, intervention and post-narrative, in order to highlight the practices involved in teacher learning and development.
The data for the study were collected by means of videotapes, transcriptions, direct observations and the students' written narratives.

In the analysis, the social activity is approached from the viewpoint of discourse moves and activity building. The analysis of the narratives focuses on temporality and the content of the student-teachers' learning experiences. In this study, the progressive nature of the narratives was indicated by the changed voice reflecting change in personal attitude, and thus revealing student development in pedagogical and domain-specific questions.


To conclude, the narrative examples presented in this paper offer the possibility to provide educators and researchers with lenses through which to examine the construction of teacher identity in a community of learners. On the whole, this study provides evidence of the potential of an integrated approach, where learning sites, such as an educational course at the institute and the activities for the teaching practice at school are intertwined, giving rise to teacher identity building among student-teachers.

Updated: Jan. 31, 2010