Pedagogy in Further Education and Vocational Teacher Education

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The place of learning theory in the FES

This is a topic which has been the focus of a number of pieces of research in the English FES. Teacher educators have been found to have some autonomy in identifying and selecting appropriate learning theory in research by Clow and Harkin (2009), Harkin (2005), Harkin et al. (2008), Harkin et al (2003), Lucas (2007), Lucas et al. (2012) and Perry et al. (2019).

Harkin (2005) and Lucas et al. (2012) and Noel (2009) found there is no clear agreement on defining the relevant theory for the LLS. Teacher educators therefore find themselves in the position where they decide what to teach in relation to learning theory. Different theories are taught on different ITE programmes (Harkin, 2005). Noel (2009) agreed that ‘teacher education should draw attention to emerging findings from neuroscience’ (ibid: 12), but found there was ‘little evidence that this is happening in practice’ (ibid; 12). Noel also suggested there was a view which ‘was that ultimately all theory is just that – theory, and trainees can be encouraged to look at it in a critical way’ (ibid: 12).

Harkin (2005) and Harkin et al. (2008) discuss how trainees can find learning theory difficult, particularly at the start of ITE programmes, but they become more confident as the course progresses, and value the theory learned later in their teaching career when they have more experience to apply it in practice.