Shifting Conceptualisations of Knowledge and Learning in Initial Teacher Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Nov. 10, 2010

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 441 – 459.
(November 2010).

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article reports on the research project 'Shifting conceptualisations of knowledge and learning in the integration of the new New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) in initial and continuing teacher education'. This project was funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative of the New Zealand government. The project maps the learning processes of practitioner-researchers in their initiatives in the integration of the new NZC in their teacher education practices.

This research focuses on teacher educators' narratives and strategies used to negotiate their theories/practices and subjectivities within the complexities and constraints of their own narratives, institutions and communities.

The project's methodology consists of the development of nine case studies and a meta-analysis of those carried out from an interpretivist and a poststructuralist lens. The case studies and meta-analysis were constructed around three questions that reflected some of the priorities of the funders:
- How are shifts in conceptualisations of knowledge and learning interpreted within the different knowledge domains of the practitioners (teacher educators) in this research? How do these shifts affect the way the NZC is interpreted and implemented?

- What are the characteristics of effective initiatives for shifting student teachers' and teachers' conceptualisations of knowledge and learning?

- How do shifts in the conceptualisation of knowledge and learning affect student teachers' and teachers' interpretations of the NZC?

In the first part of this paper, the authors outline the theoretical framework and conceptual tools of a research project related to shifting conceptualisations of knowledge and learning in the implementation of the New Zealand curriculum.

Conceptual/pedagogical tools

The theoretical framework of this project is based on an examination of arguments related to societal changes in knowledge societies and postmodernity that emphasise the need for a re-conceptualisation of knowledge and learning in educational policies and practices in contemporary twenty-first-century societies. In general terms, this literature uses globalisation and its effects on market economies and societies to justify the need for educators to shift the way they understand knowledge and learning.
The authors have used specific conceptual and pedagogical tools in order to bridge understandings in relation to the research itself and to theoretical debates relevant to the research. In this article the authors present three of these tools- the cake, matrix of educational approaches, and cognitive adaptation or epistemological pluralism- as illustrations of the theories, debates and assumptions that inform the pedagogical discussions and the collection and analysis of data.

Case study: Jae's voice

The case study presented in the second part illustrates how the theoretical framework worked in providing tools for thinking and how a conceptual tool was modified and expanded to address contextual issues in a course focussing on teaching and learning as inquiry.

The second author (Jae), as a researcher-practitioner, presents a brief outline and analysis of data from a longer case study developed as part of this TLRI project. The case study investigates the introduction of inquiry approaches in a 15-month postgraduate teacher education course that focused on developing skills and understandings about social studies, cultural and linguistic diversity, and culturally responsive teaching.


The authors conclude that it is essential that practitioner-researchers engage critically with such discourses and construct a collaborative space where they feel safe to wrestle with tensions and paradoxes, to construct speculative knowledge (Somekh 2008) and to learn from the application of these ideas in their contexts.
Somekh, B. Somekh, B. and Schwandt, T. (eds) (2008) Last words: Speculative knowledge. Knowledge production: Research work in interesting times. pp. 197-207. Routledge , New York.

Updated: May. 29, 2011