Research is a vital element of teacher
education. In a rapidly changing world
we cannot expect that passing on our own personal experience or a generalised
and unsubstantiated idea of .good practice. will give student teachers a
sufficient basis from which to develop as effective teachers, constantly
meeting new challenges in terms of the attitudes, experiences and expectations
children bring to school and the kind of accountability the wider society asks
of teachers. We need to refamiliarise
ourselves with the research that has informed our own practice, learn about new
research that carries important implications for the classroom, help our
student teachers to engage in research activity themselves, and also, where we
can, carry out our own research projects.
However, the nature of research can be
problematic, especially in education.
Government bodies tend to place most value on quantitative research .
experiments and surveys yielding apparently clear cut numerical data. But capturing learning in classrooms is a
complex task, and very many educators see that, although experiments and
surveys have much to tell us and are invaluable to certain kinds of
decision-making, to do justice to the complex process of education often
requires a qualitative approach. Here
description of what happens is amplified by consideration of possible causes,
involving participants. perceptions of what is going on as well as or instead
of outsiders. observations. Both
approaches need to be informed by a well-founded theoretical understanding of
the processes of learning.
So, if we are to give our student teachers a
fully informed understanding of what we know about the teaching of literacy or
English, we need to help them develop a knowledge and understanding of both
kinds of research. Where possible we
should also involve them in research projects of either type, to give them a
sense of active participation, and to help them develop an understanding of
procedures and pitfalls.