Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 36, p. 178-188, (December, 2013).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study investigated the perceptions of experienced teachers and student teachers in Netherlands with respect to different aspects of practice-based research in professional development schools (PDS) and non-PDS settings and to what degree these perceptions differed.
The respondents were asked about their perceptions of several distinguished elements associated with the four main concepts of practice-based research: contextual input, personal input, the research process and the (learning) outcomes.
A Questionnaire on Teacher Research (QTR) was developed to analyse practicing teachers’ and student teachers’ perceptions of practice-based research in their secondary education schools.
The participants were 102 respondents, who divided into four groups: 53 PDS teachers, 21 PDS student teachers, 10 non-PDS teachers and 18 non-PDS student teachers.
The findings revealed that the Questionnaire on Teacher Research to be a useful, reliable and valid tool for assessing teachers’ and student teachers’ perceptions of their practice-based research efforts in secondary education schools.
Furthermore, it appeared that respondents scored, on average, highest with respect to their research motives and the outcomes of practice-based research.
The average scores for the three contextual input scales were medium and scores for the two process scales medium to medium-low.
In addition, PDS and non-PDS differences were visible, but were most times not significant.
Two significant effects were generally observed:
first, student teachers perceived the contextual input element ‘research infrastructure’ less positively than did experienced teachers.
Second, experienced teachers scored more positively than student teachers regarding process element ‘evaluating and reporting research’ scale.
The conclusion is that there are hardly any differences between PDSs and non-PDSs, and at best, there is a weak trend in favor of PDSs.
Finally, the regression analysis revealed some meaningful relationships between variables.
The regression analyses confirmed that for realising research or teaching-related outcomes, respondents’ research motives and their performed practice-based research activities are important.
In favor of realising practice-based research activities in schools, respondents’ research motives and the research infrastructure in particular play an important role.
These findings confirm the usefulness of the efforts undertaken in the Netherlands to establish and maintain PDSs with their integrated learning environments with practice-based research as an important feature.
The findings of the descriptive analysis showed both student teachers and experienced teachers scoring the lowest on two process scales: respondents perceived their performance in specific research activities and their satisfaction with respect to this performance as low. Therefore, schools should show the teachers ‘good practices’.
They also should support researching the development of teachers’ and student teachers’ competence for the planning and conduct of high-quality practice-based research, for translating their research results into improvements in their own educational practices and making their research (results) public and finally for evaluating the research product and process in order to learn professionally.
In addition to the focus on respondents’ practice-based research activities, respondents’ research motives are important for performing practice-based research activities and, as a result, research-and teaching-related outcomes.
Hence, Schools that want to implement practice-based research as a professional learning activity, should focus on teachers’ and student teachers’ motives for performing practice-based research and the practice-based research process itself.