Educating the reflective professional in teacher education: professional learning in teaching and in other professions
The thesis is part of the European Doctorate in Teacher Education (EDiTE) project that has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number 676452 The aim of this dissertation is to promote a better understanding of the way professionals learn while performing their daily work activities and what practices performed can be extracted from such activities in order to be implemented in the teaching
... in the teaching profession. This dissertation takes up "critical realism" as its underlying philosophy and sees professional learning as an unintended result of the interaction between three major complex systems namely: the organization, the community and the individual. The division into these three systems became necessary in order to find a reasonable way of "comparing" professions bearing different goals and nature. Data gathering involved semi-structured interviews subsequently coded with N-Vivo and Quirkos software. This study followed the work of 25 professionals allocated in five different fields: a) Architecture, b) Information Technology, c) Human Resources, d) Educational Researchers, e) Vocational Education and Training (VET) Teachers. All of the participants in this study were working in Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary despite coming from different nations such as Brazil, Bhutan, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Serbia, Slovakia, Peru and Poland. The peculiarity of this sample was purposely organized since nowadays there is an undeniable demographic change in the labor market picturing high levels of mobility not just within the European Union but also outside of it. The research process mostly looked into the day-to-day professional challenges VET teachers experience in their workplace taking up transferable solutions mediated from other professions. The results identified various practices that could be extrapolated to the VET teaching professional in several ways. For example, the importance of cooperation among professionals of different areas identified in the profession of Architecture, the openness to new knowledge as seen in the HR area, communal problem solving as detected in the IT profession and the mediating role of managers between the employee and the working knowledge in the educational research field. Therefore, it becomes quite evident that the teaching profession needs to look farther beyond its usual collaborators and try looking for solutions to challenges stemming from different fields in a trans-professional fashion. Finally, this study leaves the door open for a deeper conversation on the effectiveness of teachers' adoption of practices from other professional areas. Abstract In the realm of professional learning, theoretical frameworks focus on either the role of the individual, the community or the organization. However, an interactionist approach accounts for individual differences, such as general cognitive ability, and social relationships, such as the dynamic between teacher and student, within the environment, community or organization. For example, organizational science has shown that climate within the workplace is important because of the presence of conflict or cooperation, which can lead to organizational success or failure. Within individual learning, organizational learning characteristics and leadership style can also influence employee learning and development. Consequently, in developing a framework for understanding professional learning, it is important to consider how the individual is shaped by both intrinsic motivation factors, such as self-determination and self-efficacy, and extrinsic motivation factors, such as organizational climate and leadership style, which influences workplace policies and practices. This study makes a contribution through focusing on macro, meso and micro factors as a part of a complex system; previous research has not provided a broad interactional approach within professional learning. It is important to adopt a broad perspective in examining the complex phenomenon of professional learning. Although the micro-context (individual characteristics of teachers or programs) is relevant, it is important to include meso-level and macro-level factors; including meso (institutional) and macro (school system) contexts accounts for the complexity of professional learning (Opfer& Pedder, 2011, p. 378). This research provides a theoretical model that includes, micro, meso and macro factors. This model is important for professional learning research, across a wide range of professions. This thesis has two objectives. First, the thesis applies theory and practice from other professions and extrapolates the findings to challenges faced in the teaching profession. Second, the thesis draws on organizational science and examines the professional learning phenomenon from the perspective ofcomplexity theory.