Pedagogy in Further Education and Vocational Teacher Education

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Example 7 from research (FES) – Harkin (2005)

Harkin (2005) reports on research funded by a national Further Education infrastructure organisation which surveyed 243 FE teachers about their perceptions of the usefulness of the FE ITE they had received. 50 of the survey respondents were subsequently interviewed. Research, including the above study by Moon (1998) had already identified theory as a problematic area in English ITE, and participants in this research reinforced that perspective. Harkin’s research finds that ‘Even if we could agree about what we mean by ‘theory’, and whether or not it is a useful term, there is a potentially bewildering abundance of different theories on offer to trainee teachers’ (Harkin, 2005: 171).

The research found that a wide range of theories, models and frameworks could be included, but that for trainees, ‘theories that do not help teachers in their practice will be disregarded by them’ (ibid: 171). Harkin also found that there was no national agreement on the theory which should be taught on ITE programmes, but argues that the best approach would be to allow for flexibility and professional judgement by Teacher Educators in this area due to the changing fashions and approaches to theory over a period of time.

In a sector full of complexity and change, Harkin found that the research ‘found high regard for reflective practice as an organising principle of ITT courses, but that it is very difficult to maintain deliberative, reflective processes post-ITT. Many teachers said they had no time for reflection in their fulltime teaching role and missed the opportunity to discuss their teaching with others’ (ibid: 174).