Researching Teacher Education and Training in England (Key Ethical and Methodological Concerns)

The present teacher education and training environment in England is characterised by schools and university partnerships and school-based only frameworks. There are however an increasing body of ‘independent’ teacher education providers. Out of this ‘new’ thinking has emerged labels and entities such as School Direct, Teach First, Troops to Teachers and School-Centred Initial Teacher Training.

This occurrence suggests that increasingly, research in teacher education and training is being carried out in a variety of schools’ contexts. This also provides researchers with a larger ‘ground’ in which to work and a diverse array of potential respondents and participants.

While there is always a ‘downside’ some may argue that the positives (such as the potential for ‘rich data’ and increased understanding of teacher education and training issue based on a wider pool of participants) out-weight the potential negatives–some are highlighted later in this article. Additionally, the highlighted negatives are also preventable with proper understanding and application of research knowledge and procedures. However, given this ‘new’ environment here are a few ethical and methodological concerns that I see as key.

Key Ethical Concerns

Increase in the pool of research participants and places means potentially, there is an increase in the number of people who can be negatively affected. This therefore lends importance to the need to promise and maintain both confidentiality and anonymity and for researchers to be vigilant in these matters.

A lapse in confidentiality and anonymity can have adverse effects on participants, bring the researcher and her or his affiliate University into disrepute and impact negatively relations between University, partnering schools and sometimes Local Educational Authority. On the extreme end of the spectrum of negative effects, a lapse in confidentiality and anonymity could lead to Job loss, or participants being ostracized especially when the research involves sensitive issues such as race, diversity, social Justice or culture.

It is my practice – where possible- to omit names and places in my research reports. However, if these are integral to your study they should only be included after obtaining appropriate consent from potential participants. The use of pseudonyms to conceal identities is a long-standing practice among researchers and continue to aid in achieving anonymity. Additionally, confidential information about children or staff should never be disclosed at any cost.

Other ethical issues which are akin to confidentiality and anonymity is openness, honesty and autonomy. As a researcher I always inform key people in the school and assure participants of their rights to withdraw from the researcher at any time, should they wish to do so, without fear of being penalised.

It is my opinion that if these ethical issues are not carefully attended to, they may lead to less than complete and honest responses from research participants which brings into question the research findings and conclusions.

Key Methodological/Procedural Concerns

The ‘new’ environment with its wide and diverse array of potential respondents and participants provides researchers with an enlarged participant pool from which to draw. This fact suggests the need for caution and care in selecting participants for your research. Participants must be ‘information rich’. Guba and Lincoln (1998) define ‘information rich’ participants as those who are able to provide insight into the issues being researched. It is worth stating here that inappropriate participants will affect the accuracy of the conclusions you draw and the potential impact your study could have.

The other key methodological or procedural concern is the need for a clearly defined research problem. In fact, getting this right, not only helps in selecting ‘information rich’ participants, but aid university based researchers to explain to potential respondents or participants in partnering schools the research focus and guides researchers’ actions and thoughts. Additionally, a clearly defined research problem also helps to determine an appropriate research framework or procedure (e.g. Biographical, Ethnographic, Phenomenological, or Applied Research) that could be used to solve a problem, data collection methods (Interview, survey, experimental) and data analysis approach (qualitative and/or quantitative)

So what have I said?

I said, key ethical concerns for researching teacher education in the ‘new’ teacher education environment in England are confidentiality and anonymity, openness, honesty and autonomy. Key methodological or procedural concerns are participants’ selection and clearly defined research problems. These are critical in light of the enlarged field of potential participant which emerges from the new environment.

Reference

Guba, E., G & Lincoln, Y., S. (1998). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In Denzin, N., K., & Lincoln, Y., S. The Landscape of qualitative research theories and Issues. Sage USA.

Boston – A Great Place For Sports, Food, Education, History, And More

Welcome to Boston

Boston is one of the most historically significant cities in America. Near the spot where the Pilgrims landed when they first arrived in America, this Massachusetts city is one of the most important cities in the U.S.

It is called the unofficial capital of New England, and ranks 20th in size for the U.S. The metropolitan area of Boston has a population of 7.6 million people, and is one of the most important financial centers in the U.S.

Boston is an international hub for education, with over 50 institutions for high learning, including Harvard and MIT, not to mention Boston College and Boston University. Students from all over the world work hard in school and try to get the best standardized test scores they can in hopes of attending one of these schools.

Not only is it an important city for education, commerce, industry, electronics, and technology, but it is also a major sports city.

The Red Sox, a Major League Baseball team that has won seven World Series championships, calls Boston home. Their stadium, the famous Fenway Park, has sold out more championship games than any other club in MLB. Fenway Park can hold nearly 40,000 people, and the fans that attend the local baseball games nearly fill the stadium every game.

The Boston Bruins is the local hockey team in the NHL that has captured five Stanley Cup trophies. The Boston Celtics, team of the legendary Larry Bird, have taken home 17 NBA championship titles. Both teams play in TD Garden stadium, which covers 3.2 acres and is worth $160 million.

The New England Patriots are also based in Boston, and this National Football League team has captured three Super Bowl championships. Their home stadium is the Gillette Stadium located just over 20 miles away from downtown Boston. This mammoth stadium can hold over 68,000 people, with 87 luxury seats and 6,000 club seats.

If you visit Boston, you cannot leave without visiting some of the places that depict Boston’s historical significance. Walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile hike along some of the most famous historical sites in Boston. You will see where the Boston Tea Party took place, the house of Paul Revere, the site of the Boston Massacre, and many more places significant to American history.

Take a walk up to Bunker Hill, and see where American soldiers stood bravely against British soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Look at the mammoth obelisk, over 200 feet high, that stands as a commemoration of the bravery of these heroes.

If you are a bibliophile, you cannot pass up the opportunity to visit the Boston Public Library. Home to one of the largest collections of books in the world, the Boston Public Library also holds rare prints, fine pieces of art, and more.

Take a tour of the MIT campus. One of the world’s most renowned institution’s for technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a sprawling campus and a 90 minute tour through the entire complex. Students work very hard to gain admission to this school, and others in the Boston area, through hard work, good grades, and quality test prep.

The New England Aquarium offers a great source of entertainment to children of all ages, free of charge. Bring the kids to see all kinds of marine life, including sharks swimming in huge tanks, giant sea turtles, and whale-watching cruises.

Love to eat? Take a stroll in the Quincy Market, where every Wednesday they have an International Food Fair in which you can taste food from all over the world at no cost to you. If you love to see parades and floats, Boston has two or more citywide events between the months of March and June.

Boston is the perfect place to visit to bask in sports, education, history, and culture, and a great place to take the family on vacation.

UK Falls Behind in Further Education League

As the world becomes economically smaller and smaller, the world job and trade markets are becoming more and more competitive. In this type of market, it is imperative for a country to have a superb school system in order to produce competitive workers for the top fields.

England Steps Down

In recent years, England has stepped down in educational rankings when compared to other countries around the world. South Korea and Finland scored in the top positions for writing ability whereas Taiwan and Finland achieved the highest scores in maths.

Were do these numbers come from?

The figures that back this information up come from the International Student Assessment, (otherwise known as Pisa) performance tables. These tables are based on tests that are taken by children fifteen years of age. They are aimed at assessing their ability to apply their school gained knowledge to real world situations. These tests are performed every three years. Pisa ratings are based on tests that are given to 400,000 students within 57 countries. These tests are an attempt to measure the attainment of different students within different educational systems.

How is England’s progress?

In the latest report, the UK’s performance has declined in reading and in maths compared to other international competitors. The UK is the only group to have placed in the top performing group of the year 2000, to have slipped down into the lower group. The UK has also lost ground in the area of sciences.

In the year 2000, the UK placed eighth in maths and seventh in reading. From there they have slipped down to 24th place in maths and into seventeenth place in reading, Finland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Korea, the other countries that rounded out the upper group and are still placed within that group.

Passed By

The UK was passed up by Slovenia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria in the area of maths. The UK is still declining in science and reading skills also. A reading performance test was given to ten year old children in England and it was found that they had fallen from third place all the way down to nineteenth place according to the ‘Progress in International Reading Literacy Study’.

Urgent Need

The UK government has recognized the issues facing them with declining marks in an ever increasingly competitive world. Great efforts are being put together in order to intervene where students may be struggling. The ‘Every Child Counts’ program promises personalized learning so that no student falls behind. Schools are still concerned, they complain that every year the government boasts about improvements it is making to the educational system, yet every year the country falls further behind.