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The qualitative study has involved 100 novice teachers attending a two year training course in Teacher College at the Universities of Florence and Siena and has been focused on the analysis of …

The qualitative study has involved 100 novice teachers attending a two year training course in Teacher College at the Universities of Florence and Siena and has been focused on the analysis of transformative learning processes (Mezirow, 1990; 1991) occurring during the practicum within the interaction among novice and expert teachers using a narrative inquiry approach (Connelly & Clandinin, 1995).
Novice teachers have been asked to write a professional short narrative about a problematic experience in their training framed as “critical incident” (Brookfield, 1990). Narratives have been collected in order to identify transformative processes and turning points in the construction of teacher’s professional epistemology focusing on their epistemic and emotional involvement. Narratives have been processed both by statistic classification and qualitative analysis using a process of methodological and investigator triangulation.

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  • 1. The emotional dimensions oflearning and researching lives:a neglected species?ESREALife History and Biographical ResearchNetworkCanterbury Christ Church UniversityThursday March 6th to Sunday March 9th,2008 Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 1 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 2. Emotional dimensions in transformative learningprocesses of novice teachers. A qualitative studyLoretta Fabbri & Claudio Melacarne, University of Siena - Maura Striano, University of Naples Federico II.
  • 3. Contentsl  Scientific backgroundl  Theoretical frameworkl  Study questionsl  Research focus and objectivesl  Methodologyl  A first quantitative analysis: the focus of the reflective actionl  The qualitative analysis l  Unsaid emotions. I do what I feel like doing. I learn as a professional by observation, by trial and errors. Emotions are imbedded in the practices. No cognitive apprenticeship occurs l  Helplessness. I won’t do as you teach me. l  Emotions are an “individual thing”. I learn by opposition because I feel that what you propose is not right l  Exploring reflectively emotional relationships with students and colleagues l  Socializing emotionsl  Critical pointsl  Essential references Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 3 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 4. 1. Scientific backgroundIn the last thirty years educational research has beenincreasingly focused on the relationship among knowledgeconstruction processes, emotions and practices ineducational and professional contexts, according to aconstructivist paradigm.Within this framework, a growing body of research hasexamined the relationship between teachers’epistemological beliefs and the practice of teaching(King, Kitchener, 1994). The understanding of teachers’beliefs systems about teaching and learning is particularlyinformative about the manner in which their classroompractice is constructed. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 4 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 5. l  In particular, some studies have been focused on teachers’ personal and “folk” epistemologies and psychologies, (Brownlee, 2001, 2003; Olson and Bruner 1996).l  Within this framework, two conceptual constructs are particularly relevant to the study and analysis of professional practices:1)  the construct of “personal epistemology” (Hofer, Pintrich, 2001)2)  the construct of “professional epistemology” (Schön, 1983, 1987, 1991) Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 5 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 6. The construct of trasformative learning (Mezirow, 1991) is particularly relevant to give reason of the epistemological changes occurring in personal and professional epistemology because these changes involve trasfomation of frame of reference and meaning perspectives Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 6 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 7. 2. Theoretical frameworkResearch framework:l  personal epistemology;l  professional epistemology;l  transformative learning. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 7 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 8. ReasonsTeachers administrate learning and teaching processes and these processes are influenced by beliefs, representation, theories (tacit theories, naïve theories, common sense theories) teachers use to interpret their personal and professional experiences and professional practices change according to a transformative process regarding the frames of reference of these beliefs, representations, theories. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 8 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 9. ReasonsProfessional epistemologies are always linked to personal epistemologies where emotions play a central role in the construction of beliefs, representations, theories regarding various dimensions of teacher’s self; emotions, thus, are deeply involved in the way teachers give meaning to their professional practices. Emotions are very different in novice and expert teacher and have a central role in the development of professional epistemologies. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 9 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 10. Reasonsl  The construction of a professional identity is strictly connected to the construction/deconstruction of a personal identity and in this complex process, epistemic and socio-linguistic meaning perspectives change together with psychological perspectives. Emotions play a strong role in the construction and development of professional epistemologies and personal growth and changes have a deep impact in the framing and reframing of professional identities and roles. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 10 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 11. 3. Study questionsl  Novice teachers participate to the classroom experience and the training activity in school without any form of previous professional knowledge and competences and are challenged to develop a reflective competence. They use their personal frames of references (Mezirow, 1991) and personal epistemologies (Hofer & Pintrich, 2001) to frame their first experiences of legitimate peripheral participation to professional practices (Lave, Wenger, 1991) and this use implies deep emotional involvement. Moreover, the practicum experience and the challenges that the encounter with a different frame of reference provided by the expert teacher- whose practices are observed and reflected upon- lead the novice teacher to a deep reframing of their meaning perspectives, an poses a strong focus on their emotions. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 11 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 12. 4. Research focus andobjectivesl  The empirical research focus is on the interplay of the tacit emotional dimension and the tacit knowledge and epistemology involved in the development of professional identities and epistemologies in novice teachers through transformative learning and reflective processes.l  The unit of analysis is thus the practicum experience as it is framed and reframed by novice teachers’ beliefs, epistemologies, feelings and emotions.l  The objective is to understand which kind of emotions are involved in the transformation of epistemic, sociolinguistic and psychological frames of references in novice teachers’ practicum experiences in order to support them with reflective devices useful to promote transformative learning. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 12 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 13. 5. Methodologyl  The research has been developed within a qualitative framework using a narrative inquiry approach (Connelly & Clandinin, 2001).l  The qualitative study has involved 100 novice teachers attending a two year training course in Teacher College at the Universities of Florence and Siena and has been focused on the analysis of transformative learning processes (Mezirow, 1990; 1991) occurring during the practicum within the interaction among novice and expert teachers.l  Novice teachers have been asked to provide narratives of their practicum experiences; in particular, they have been asked to write a short narrative about a problematic experience in their training framed as “critical incident” (Brookfield, 1990). Critical incidents have been used widely in educational research (Killen and McKee, 1983), ever since Flanagans (1954) initial formulation of the method. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 13 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 14. 6. A first quantitative analysis: the focus of the reflective actionAbout 59% of the total amount of problems and issues portrayed inthe professional narratives refer to the difficulty to establish a “good”relationship with the students in the class, or with a single student,with a little group of students. Learning RelationshipOnly 10% of the narratives collected is explicitly focused on teacher’s Evaluationprofessional and personal beliefs, emotions as well as on teachers’ Professional selfmotivations which lead to the identification of a “professional self”.We have used the construct of “professional self” in order to focus onthe difficult relationship occurring in the interplay of the perception ofthe self and the representation of the professional role emergingduring the practicum experience as well as during reflective 10%processes. 28% 3%About 28% of the narratives are focused on the definition orunderstanding of learning processes occurring in the classroom andhave a strong epistemological focus. Learning is a central issue inteachers’ practice. Narratives are very useful to explore implicittheories about learning which are deeply imbedded in the practicumexperience, in particular, the narratives analysed are mainly focused 59%on the relationship between motivation an learning in differenteducational contexts and have thus a strong focus on the emotionaldimension.Only 3% of the narratives has been focused on the difficulties andthe problems in the practice of learning assessment and evaluation. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 14 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 15. l  According to this first level of analysis, it is possible to assume that professional identity and epistemology is being constructed and developed within mainly three problematic areas which lead to specific learning interests for novice teachers.l  A didactical-relational-communicative area: here teachers are committed to solve problems such as: “How can I solve the problem to establish a good communicative climate in order to mediate and transfer effectively new knowledge structures?”; “Which kind of knowledge, competences, strategies, tools do I need to manage effectively a class of students?”.l  A personal-introspective area: “Why did I choose to become a teacher?” - “What does it mean to be a good teacher?”.l  Learning theories area: “What does learning mean?” - “Which strategies ands methodologies should I use in order to support learning?”. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 15 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 16. 7. The qualitative analysisThe qualitative analysis shows how novice teachers construct their professional identity referring to their practicum experiences where epistemological and emotional dimensions are deeply interconnected. Beliefs, representations, implicit theories, emotions frame and reframe their experiences and change as personal frames of reference are being transformed. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 16 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 17. 7.1. Unsaid emotions. I do what I feel like doing. Ilearn as a professional by observation, by trial anderrors. Emotions are imbedded in the practices.No cognitive apprenticeship occursA first theory about professional identity and epistemologycould be synthesized in the idea that training and practicumare mainly to be understood as experiences which lead toprofessional practices and not as a full immersion inprofessional experiences and practices. The novice teacherlearns from experience but is not supported in reflecting onthe experience and in exploring different possible solutionsnegotiated with the expert teacher. No discussion on theepisode has occurred. The emotions of frustration and ragehave a strong role in the construction/deconstruction of theprofessional identity and epistemology but have not beenanalysed in the practicum setting itself. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 17 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 18. 7.2. Helplessness. I won’t do as you teach me. Emotions are an “individual thing”. I learn by opposition because I feel that what you propose is not rightA particularly interesting focus is on the relationship between novice perspectives andexport teacher perspectives. In some occasions the novice teachers does not agreeon the theoretical and methodological framework used by the expert teacher andactivates processes of construction of an individual professional point of view byopposition, supported by emotions of dislike.The first professional experiences mostly challenge personal and intimate dimensionsmore than professional and practical competence which the novice teacher is not jetprovided with.Narratives portray the practicum as an experience, and do not focus on theprofessional problem through analysis of the different variables implied or with a deepinvolvement and participation in the professional experience. Problems arise frompractice in two different forms: problems regarding emotional implications of didactics(how should interact with students, how should I manage assessment? How can Imotivate the students?) and epistemological problems (should I revise my theories oflearning and teaching?). Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 18 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 19. 7.3. Exploring reflectively emotionalrelationships with students and colleaguesNarratives have portrayed a widespread convincement thata determining factor facilitating knowledge construction andlearning processes is the capability to manage relationshipswith a particular focus on the emotional dimension. A goodrelationship and a good “classroom climate” give theopportunity to make mistakes and to be understood? Fromthe narratives collected novice students seem deeplyconvinced of the necessity to develop a relationshipgrounded on respect and reciprocal esteem. In caseswhere novice teachers focused on the competence ofteachers for special needs students this factor isconsidered to be essential to activate a good learningprocess. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano - Dott. Claudio Melacarne 19
  • 20. 7.4. Socializing emotions The novice teacher tells us how “aggressive behaviours” are often the by product of a frenetic climate, with no opportunity to exchange ideas, opinions, stories or personal narratives. The implicit theory recalls a vygotskijan view of learning processes and uses the metaphor of the class as a “social” context. In particular, class is understood as a space where it is not possible anymore to tell stories, to meet different point of view and narrative. A strong attention for relational and emotional dimensions of teaching is not accompanied by a reflection about which strategies would be more useful to manage learning-teaching processes besides “empathy” or “grounding a good relationship”. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 20 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 21. 8. Critical pointsThe study of novice teachers narratives has evidenced somecritical points that are extremely relevant in the development of amultifaceted professional competence in Teacher College,While there is a strong focus on the necessity that the teacherbuilds up a competence useful to manage both personalemotions in class as well as the emotions of the class and of thesingle students, there is also the risk of misunderstanding of theteacher’s role interpretation., also because teachers’ relationalcompetences are not clearly understood and focused on.Moreover, a strong focus on relationship as the basis of learningtends to minimize epistemological issues and problems related tocurriculum development and content mediation within learning/teaching processes. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 21 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne
  • 22. Critical pointsPracticum experiences if not considered as professional competence building setting both by novice as by expert teachers, and if not provided of a reflective structure useful to confront, mediate, negotiate meaning perspectives tend to confirm personal frames of references or, when they are perceived as disorienting, there is not the opportunity to activate critical reflective processes. Moreover, novice experiment strong emotions but they have no opportunity to make meaning of them.The use of critical incidents and of professional narratives has shown that whenever novice teachers are lead to reflect on their experiences and practices they may become critically aware of their beliefs, representations, theories, emotions and use them as a pivotal device to build up reflective competence, which we can consider as a core competence for teaching. Prof.ssa Loretta Fabbri - Prof.ssa Maura Striano 22 - Dott. Claudio Melacarne

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