What the resource is:
This paper, delivered at the Annual Conference of the Association of Teacher Education in Europe in August 2008, reports on research carried out by Sheffield Hallam University. It considers the weakness found by government inspectors in the subject knowledge of school based trainees in comparison with those taking the PGCE route. The paper brings together findings from data collected over a one year programme from trainee teachers, school based mentors, school based initial Teacher Training Coordinators and University assessors, with particular reference to the ways in which EBITT trainees (i.e. those on employment-based routes) develop their subject knowledge and pedagogy.
The aims of the resource:
The research and subsequent paper aims to find out "how trainee teachers acquire subject knowledge and subject pedagogic knowledge while based in a school" and "whether teaching staff in schools have the required subject and subject pedagogic knowledge and skills for this enhanced route".
Key findings or focus:
The key focus of the report is exploring whether the TDA model for subject and pedagogic knowledge acquisition "matched what was taking place in school based training" and to what extent school-based mentors and ITT coordinators were prepared and equipped to support trainees in these areas.
The report is set against the backdrop of the findings of government inspectors that EBITT trainees have weaker subject knowledge than those following a PGCE route. The TDA had developed a model to support EBITT providers to develop their training provision and the data collected in this study was interpreted against this model.
It is acknowledged in the report that trainees undertaking an EBITT route use a number of ways to acquire subject and pedagogic knowledge and this is only partially reflected in the TDA model. It also highlights the growing need for schools to provide high quality training for trainees in these areas.
The report presents findings concerning the ways in which trainees develop subject knowledge, such as training courses, and pedagogical knowledge, such as observing other teachers. The report provides significant detail, supported with trainee comments, in this area. It also reports on the ways in which mentors support this process and considers areas such as the impact of the selection of mentors, the use of resources by mentors and the best features of trainees' training. There is considerable reference made to the literature which underpins the acquisition of knowledge. Using four models which are common in considering how to acquire knowledge, the report highlights that the development of subject and pedagogic knowledge require a greater emphasis.
The report also assesses the ways in which trainees develop their "knowledge of self" in relation to the two types of other knowledge being acquired. The trainees' reflections in these areas are particularly interesting. There are useful conclusions and discussions concerning the ways in which EBITT mentors are selected and the title given to this role; 62% of mentors felt that their title should be changed to "school based tutor" to reflect the requirements of the GTP route. Within this area, the report also considers the ways in which taking on this role can enhance the mentor's subject and pedagogic knowledge, and the relationship between the role of mentor and engagement in CPD.
The trainee feedback in this report is concentrated on what they perceive to be the best aspects of their training, with most citing the contact with staff and their mentor. The report concludes that there are eight distinct ways in which trainees acquire subject knowledge, such as web based resources, practical application, working with colleagues and knowledge of self. Interesting links are made here with the work of Kagan who cites the central role "played by the novice's self image". The emphasis is also on the limited ways in which mentors support trainees in developing subject pedagogic knowledge. The report includes Hawksley et al's model (in appendix 6) for gaining pedagogic subject knowledge, and it is suggested that this model can be "usefully linked" with the TDA model.
The report ends with a summary of ten key findings for the development of subject knowledge and pedagogy in EBITT routes, including recognising the individualistic way in which trainees gain this knowledge, changing the title of mentor to subject based tutor to reflect the new requirements, and exploring the link between the Sheffield Hallam model with that from the TDA to reflect the complexity in the area of subject and pedagogic knowledge acquisition.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
The report includes significant quantities of data and references to academic research into subject knowledge and subject pedagogic knowledge acquisition. The references are particularly useful to direct the further reading as well as being the literature base for this paper.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
This is an extremely useful report for ITE tutors and mentors alike. It is insightful in terms of the knowledge base as well as the reflections upon the TDA model for the acquisition of subject knowledge and subject pedagogic knowledge. It would also prove useful for providing a theoretical background into these issues and insight into designing a school based ITT course.
The report also contains a number of appendices which provide detailed insight into the data collection, methodology for collecting and analysing data, as well as useful ‘trainee voice' material and reflections.
It would be an invaluable resource to be used with new mentors or when designing or reviewing an EBITT course.
The relevance to ITE students:
The report would prove extremely useful to an ITE student in two ways. Firstly, it provides practical reflections on the ways in which other trainees have developed their own subject and pedagogical knowledge. Secondly, it contains a useful knowledge base for developing an understanding about the acquisition of pedagogy and subject knowledge.
Please see bibliography in the attached report.