The Practical Turn in Teacher Education: Designing a Preparation Sequence for Core Practice Frames

Aug. 01, 2014

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 65(3), 2014, p. 195-206.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article aims to provide a concrete illustration of a practice-based teacher education strategy. This strategy applied to the preparation of high school biology teachers learning to enact lab lessons that enhance opportunities for students to engage in reasoning with scientific concepts.
The authors focused, therefore, on lesson frames that involved lab tasks in which students engage, at some level, in formulating a problem or a question, identifying a method of gathering information, analyzing data, and explaining findings. Such lessons create a context or a frame of meaningful activity for several important core practices.

A Bridging Methodology
The authors describe and illustrate a bridging methodology, which consists of two dimensions: a heuristic goal system and a teaching impact analysis. The heuristic goal system is a procedure that enables a teacher to specify his or her current practice as a set of lesson segments and then connect these segments to a hierarchy of goals and expected values. A teaching impact analysis enables a teacher to compare current lesson segments with lesson segments that represent the target practice frame and to estimate the desirability and probability of each lesson segment sequence.
Furthermore, the authors present the work done with 31 biology student teachers who participated in learning how to enact open-inquiry labs as part of the teacher education program at Leiden University (The Netherlands).


In this article, the authors have defined and illustrated a bridging approach to practice-based teacher education that has three essential features.
First, the approach utilizes a core practice frame to conceptualize target practices.
Second, the approach incorporates at its foundation the teachers’ own values and goals and their practical reasoning about their teaching as the starting points for intervention.
Finally, the approach advocates the construction of a support progression from current practice to a new practice in a manner that enables the teachers to see each change as an improvement.

The tools of the bridging approach presented here—the heuristic goal system and the teaching impact analysis— allow teachers to construct their own authentic representations of the components of their practice and the values and goals that hold their practice in place. As a result, the path to improvement can be made both concrete and attainable.

Updated: Nov. 01, 2016