Teacher Educator Dilemmas: A Concept to Study Pedagogy

Oct. 01, 2011

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 17, No. 5, October 2011, 559–573
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study is to disclose the types and content of dilemmas teacher educators in Turkey faced with as well as the strategies they used to cope with them.
Additionally, the findings were compared with datasets from Israel and The Netherlands in order to make cross-cultural comparisons.

The focus on research questions to explore dilemmas is threefold:
to identify dilemmas (if any) encountered when teaching to teach to student teachers;
to identify strategies used to cope with/manage those dilemmas; and
to compare and contrast findings with those of Tillema and Kremer-Hayon (2005) study.

Context and participants
Data were collected from 12 teacher educators, nine women and three men.
The participants were teaching methodology-related courses to student teachers at their respective institutes.

The participants also received additional teacher training on their teaching practice in the English language teaching (ELT) program of a faculty of education in a Turkish university.

Design of the study
The authors used a mixed method design to collect data.
They used an overlapping set of data collection instruments, such as open and structured interviews, participatory observations and probed responses to presented dilemmas, to gauge dilemmas in different representations.


Discussion and conclusion

The findings indicate that teacher educators are concerned with improving their pedagogy and professionalism in teaching for teaching, with a prime concern for being an initiator of learning.
These perceptions of their professions were extracted by looking at the teacher educators’ dilemmas.
Dilemmas are of special interest of the study of the conceptions and beliefs of teacher educators, because they disclose some of their inner world, and provide a glimpse into the linkage between conceptions and preferred solutions of daily problems.

With respect to the dilemmas encountered in adopting new approaches to their teaching, most prominent seems to be the (divergence between) theory vs practice.
Central to this theory–practice dilemma is that a conception of teaching itself cannot bridge that gap between fostering student dominated, i.e. motivated learning activity and the teachers’ task of preparing a learning environment that allows self-governed pupil understanding of subject matter.
The comparison of the findings reveals that the theory–practice-related dilemmas are among the most prominent across contexts, with some notable differences in the wording chosen by teacher educators (more student directed versus more content or theory directed).

Another broader or underlying dilemma pertaining to professional beliefs of teacher educators refers to traditional and directed vs progressive and flexible teaching orientation.
These teaching orientations result from the teachers’ trust or confidence in students’ ability to learn independently.
Within this dimension, teachers refer to the varying degrees of strictness of control to be practiced, the students’ self-responsibility and opportunities available of freedom to learn, all of which require a careful teacher monitoring and evaluation of students’ progress.
Teachers favouring a student-centered teaching (i.e. teaching) estimate that their students’ ability in this respect is higher than that of those favouring a more task or subject-matter oriented, i.e. traditional view on teaching.

The comparison's findings reveal that Israeli and Dutch educators express a preference for the involvement of their students as a strategy to cope with their dilemmas.
However, Turkish educators seem to be coping with them either on their own or by seeking advice from their colleagues.

The authors conclude that the importance of this study lies in finding the work-related dilemmas, which may raise the consciousness of professionals regarding the adoption and practice of new approaches to their teaching.
In this respect, the authors feel that the study has established a more thoroughly and refined notion of dilemmas as an indicator to reveal concerns of teacher educators and give insights in the strategies they use while coping with dilemmas.

Tillema, H.H., & Kremer-Hayon, L. (2005). Facing dilemmas: Teacher-educators’ ways of constructing a pedagogy of teacher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 10(2), 203–217.

Updated: Feb. 18, 2014