Brouwer, Patricia, Carlos van Kan, Ben Smit, Wilfried Admiraal, Jacqueline van Swet, Lia Spreeuwenberg, Frank de Jong, Hans Asbreuk, Truda Kruijer, & Leontien van den Berg (2018). Van masterstudent naar masterdocent. Onderzoek naar de betekenis van onderwijsonderzoek door docenten [Master student to master teacher: Research into the significance of educational research by teachers] (Technical Report, National Directorate for Educational Research, NRO project 405-15-811). Leiden, The Netherlands: University of Leiden. 64 pp. [in Dutch] (Link: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334725898_Van_masterstudent_naar_masterdocent_Onderzoek_naar_de_betekenis_van_onderwijsonderzoek_door_docenten/references)

Resumé [translated via Google Translate]

The present project took place in the context of the Teachers’ Agenda 2013-2020 and has been submitted to Theme 1. The role of teachers with research experience in practice. The project involves research by students in the final phase of their master’s program and by teachers in the first phase of their professional practice after completing this master’s program. There are indications of a positive relationship between teacher research and the quality of education, but the available research is brief and fragmentary. It is still unclear what the precise significance of a masters’ program is, and more particularly of teacher research, for the knowledge development of teachers and their utilization for school. This problem led to the following research questions:

1. In schools, how is the significance of research in the master’s program for the professional conduct of teachers in educational practice explained?

2. How is the significance of teacher research interpreted in schools for the professional conduct of teachers in educational practice?

The term "teacher research" includes three aspects of research:

1. Critical consideration of educational practice. This concerns both a research-oriented attitude and research-oriented behavior of teachers such as reflecting on their own actions, analyzing their own practice, sharing knowledge and experiences with colleagues, looking at each other in class, evaluating education together, etc.

2. Apply knowledge from research. This concerns behavior that is characteristic of knowledge utilization by teachers, such as consulting various sources, reading research literature (literature circles, book clubs or reading groups), discussing existing insights (teacher study groups) and trying out interventions.

3. Research by teachers. This concerns a targeted data collection by teachers about school and/or educational practice in which a certain followable system is used. Common forms of this include: design research, action research, lesson study, self-study.

Three sub-studies have been conducted. The first sub-study concerns the development of the storyline method, a biographical interview method to allow teachers to look back on their learning and research process in an open and traceable manner. The second sub-study concerns the development of a Q-sort method to map views on research, both with regard to other professional actions by teachers and with regard to different types of research-oriented actions by teachers. In order to validate the method, data was also collected from teachers from the primary, secondary and secondary vocational education sectors. The third sub-study concerns a biographical study of 42 students during their master’s phase and the first period of their subsequent professional career.

The research concerns teachers in three types of master’s degree programs (Master’s in Learning and Innovation (MLI), Master’s in Educational Needs (M EN) and the University Teacher Training (ULO)) and three sectors of education (BO, VO and MBO). Teachers of the MLI and M EN follow (mostly) a two-year professional master’s degree in addition to their job as a teacher. In general, these are also experienced teachers. Teachers of the ULO follow (mostly) full-time a one-year academic master’s degree, half-time as a teacher in school. These are usually teachers with little teaching experience.

With regard to critical consideration, this study can roughly distinguish between two types of teachers: 1) teachers who start the second part of their master’s program with a relatively high score on critical consideration and 2) teachers who start with a relatively low score and who stand strong develop in critical consideration. The latter group also includes the teachers who continue to score high in this regard after completing their master’s degree in professional practice. This type of research action is seen as the most relevant for teachers (based on the Q-sort questionnaire).

With regard to applying knowledge from research, teachers generally seem to come in with a low score in the second part of the master’s program and subsequently develop strongly. This is especially true for teachers from the professional master’s degree programs; ULO teachers are less focused on applying research knowledge. In the professional master’s program, teachers seem relatively more intrinsically motivated to apply research, while in the ULO this is more driven by assignments in the program. Probably because of this, applying research with teachers who have completed a professional master’s program seems to hold more than with ULO teachers. The latter group may have other concerns as a starting teacher after their master’s degree, such as teaching, lesson preparation and keeping order. This type of research-based acting is seen as less relevant for teachers (based on the Q-sort questionnaire) than critically considering educational practice.

Regarding conducting research ourselves, we see a similar picture as when applying knowledge. Teachers start their second part of the master’s program with a low score and develop strongly, especially in the professional master’s program. Teachers in the professional master’s degree program are also intrinsically motivated, while teachers at the ULO mainly conduct research because it is a study assignment. This difference continues in professional practice, after the master’s degree. Teachers who have completed a professional master’s program are experienced teachers in secondary and secondary education and doing research fits more with their work than with the graduates of the ULO who are starting teachers. But there is also more room for conducting research during the professional master’s program than in the one-year ULO in which teachers also have to acquire many other competencies in order to become able to start. This type of investigative action is seen as the least relevant for teachers (based on the Q-sort questionnaire).

Implications for educational practice, research and policy have been formulated based on the research. In the first place, this concerns the following implications for educational practice:

1. In teacher research, emphasize action research: or other change-oriented education research: improvement of education by designing, implementing and evaluating your own education;

2. Applying research knowledge and (action) research earlier in the master’s program;

3. Use a narrative method such as the Story-line method for teachers’ reflection on their development;

4. Design the master’s degree program as a partnership in which the parties involved work together on the basis of equality and joint concerns.

A number of implications for research were then formulated:

1. Deploy the Q-sort questionnaire in large-scale research into the importance of research for teachers, teaching profession and teacher development;

2. Use the Story-line method in research into the development of teachers over a longer period of time;

3. Longitudinal research or cross-sectional research on teachers at different stages of their training and professional career is necessary for a valid picture of the significance of research for teaching practice;

4. Do follow-up research that focuses on how the school as a professional organization can optimally contribute to the impact of master teachers.

Finally, a number of policy implications have been formulated within the framework of the Teachers’ Agenda:

1. Make a distinction in the master’s degree program into types of research-based acting;

2. Start applying and conducting research earlier in the master’s program;

3. Pay attention in initial training to teachers to critical consideration, application of research and forms of action research, and in further professionalization of teachers to forms of research that also involve the educational practice of colleagues and perhaps other schools, for example in the context of a school-wide research and innovation program;

4. Take measures to get teachers’ research farther into the school than their own section or team;

5. Extend the subsidy scheme team grant BO to VO and MBO; although the context is different, similar problems arise there;

6. Define the competent teacher as one who can make complex, situation-based decisions with the aid of research action;

7. Make explicit that the teaching profession is based on research;

8. Develop career paths for teachers in which there is also room for development in the field of educational research.

Wilfried Admiraal <w.f.admiraal@iclon.leidenuniv.nl> is in Educational Sciences and director of ICLON Graduate School of Teaching, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.

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