Browsing by Author "Maaranen, Katriina"

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  • Maaranen, Katriina (2009)
    This dissertation examined the research-based teacher education at the University of Helsinki from different theoretical and practical perspectives. Five studies focused on these perspectives separately as well as overlappingly. Study I focused on the reflection process of graduating teacher students. The data consisted of essays the students wrote as their last assignment before graduating, where their assignment was to examine their development as researchers during their MA thesis research process. The results indicated that the teacher students had analysed their own development thoroughly during the process and that they had reflected on theoretical as well as practical educational matters. The results also pointed out that, in the students’ opinion, personally conducted research is a significant learning process. -- Study II investigated teacher students’ workplace learning and the integration of theory and practice in teacher education. The students’ interviews focused on their learning of teacher’s work prior to education. The interviewees’ responses concerning their ‘surviving’ in teaching prior to teacher education were categorized into three categories: learning through experiences, school as a teacher learning environment, and case-specific learning. The survey part of the study focused on integration of theory and practice within the education process. The results showed that the students who worked while they studied took advantage of the studies and applied them to work. They set more demanding teaching goals and reflected on their work more theoretically. -- Study III examined practical aspects of the teacher students’ MA thesis research as well as the integration of theory and practice in teacher education. The participants were surveyed using a web-based survey which dealt with the participants’ teacher education experiences. According to the results, most of the students had chosen a practical topic for their MA thesis, one arising from their work environment, and most had chosen a research topic that would develop their own teaching. The results showed that the integration of theory and practice had taken place in much of the course work, but most obviously in the practicum periods, and also in the courses concerning the school subjects. The majority felt that the education had in some way been successful with regards to integration. -- Study IV explored the idea of considering teacher students’ MA thesis research as professional development. Twenty-three teachers were interviewed on the subject of their experiences of conducting research about their own work as teachers. The results of the interviews showed that the reasons for choosing the MA thesis research topic were multiple: practical, theoretical, personal, professional reasons, as well as outside effect. The objectives of the MA thesis research, besides graduating, were actual projects, developing the ability to work as teachers, conducting significant research, and sharing knowledge of the topic. The results indicated that an MA thesis can function as a tool for professional development, for example in finding ways for adjusting teaching, increasing interaction skills, gaining knowledge or improving reflection on theory and/or practice, strengthening self-confidence as a teacher, increasing researching skills or academic writing skills, as well as becoming critical and being able to read scientific and academic literature. -- Study V analysed teachers’ views of the impact of practitioner research. According to the results, the interviewees considered the benefits of practitioner research to be many, affecting teachers, pupils, parents, the working community, and the wider society. Most of the teachers indicated that they intended to continue to conduct research in the future. The results also showed that teachers often reflected personally and collectively, and viewed this as important. -- These five studies point out that MA thesis research is and can be a useful tool for increasing reflection doing with personal and professional development, as well as integrating theory and practice. The studies suggest that more advantage could be taken of the MA thesis research project. More integration of working and studying could and should be made possible for teacher students. This could be done in various ways within teacher education, but the MA thesis should be seen as a pedagogical possibility.