The State of Teacher Research in Early Childhood Teacher Education

Published: 
Jul. 01, 2013

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 34, Issue 3, p. 268–286, 2013.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of this study was to describe the extent to which early childhood teacher educators are informed about, engage in, value, teach about, and collaborate with others in teacher research.
Teacher research in this study was defined as research teacher educators do on their own teaching, primarily to better understand their own teaching and/or for the purpose of improving teaching and learning in the teacher education program.

This study focused on a specific teacher educator group, early childhood teacher educators and their own teacher research and what they say about the importance of teacher research in improving teacher education programs.

Methods
Three data sources used in the study:
- Survey responses (97 respondents from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators membership);
- In depth interview responses (seven participants recruited from the survey); and
- Content analysis of Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education issues from 1990–2010, focusing on the frequency of teacher research articles appearing in the journal.

 

Discussion

The findings indicated that teacher educators are informed about teacher research, teach and model it for their students, and collaborate with others in doing it.
They share their results in presentations and publications that contribute to the knowledge base in the field.
Although the researcher gave a specific definition of the term teacher research to participants, they used various terms for teacher research and these appeared in all three data sets.
For example, a few survey participants wrote they were uncertain if they engage in teacher research indicating some confusion about what is meant by the term teacher research.

The majority of responses indicated the benefits of doing teacher research outweigh the difficulties.
The benefits participants described were most focused on what they gained in their own professional development by doing teacher research.
One participant suggested that teacher research could be considered a better assessment of teachers and their effects on students than what currently exists.
Their comments also included the difficulties of doing teacher research such as lack of time and support needed to do it and faculty and institutional bias against teacher research. Difficulties also focus on the lack of recognition of teacher research in working toward tenure at some institutions.
The double standard surrounding teacher research is that many teacher education programs are required to do it to meet mandated standards, but their universities do not reward it, and even discourage it through the threat of not achieving tenure if you do it.
Participants indicated they do teacher research in spite of any drawbacks such as lack of support or criticism from colleagues who do not recognize teacher research as legitimate research in the quest for tenure.

The open-ended comments show some of the issues surrounding the understanding of what teacher research is and the status it holds in higher education.
Participants said that they encounter problems when other faculty inside and outside the teacher education program do not know about teacher research or do not value or respect it. Comments indicate that some institutions do not respect or reward teacher research and some do not view it as legitimate research.
Even some of the respondents who are in early childhood teacher education do not view teacher research as worthy of anything other than professional development and as too time consuming to even consider doing except in a service capacity working with teachers in the field.
Participants said they need more release time and some funding to do teacher research.

Updated: Sep. 20, 2015
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