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Pre-service teacher student's preference of pupil's developmental competences - A critical examination of educational restructuring and OECDs impact on "the learner"

Conference contribution
Authors Anna-Carin Jonsson
Rita Foss Lindblad
Published in ECER 2016 Dublin, Network: Teacher Education Research, ID: 1332
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords pre-service teacher students, policy discourse, performativity, "the learner", beliefs about intelligence
Subject categories Pedagogy, Educational Sciences


Pre-service teacher student’s preference of pupil’s developmental competences - A critical examination of educational restructuring and OECDs impact on “the learner” General Description As professional development has become a key goal in educational policy around the globe teacher learning and their attitudes of students learning has come in focus. However, the focus itself involves a shift. It was already noted in 1990’s as a paradigm shift from teaching to learning, indicating the task for educational institutions to produce learning instead of provide instructions (Barr & Tagg, 1995) or, as claimed by Wilson an Berne (1999), to activate instead of delivering learning and thereby make teachers active participants in educational reforms (Riverox and Viczco, 2015). Paradigm shifts such as these comes not in isolation, not without supporting mechanisms and practices and, additionally, they can’t bee understood outside their contexts of their justification. Thus, the pedagogical re-orientations mentioned and addressed in this paper are to be viewed in tandem with intense and global educational restructuring (institutional, economical etc.) that altogether has produced what Rizvi and Lingard (2010) refer to as a dominant global imaginary about the means and end of education. It is within such a context, and within its intense educational restructurings, the new discourses of learning has been produced, supported and highly influenced by official discourses used by transnational organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Here, and from the perspective of stakeholders and policymakers, teacher, teacher students as well as pupils in school become key targets for change – subject for re-form in thinking’s as well as acting’s. It is with such a focus and within such a context that our paper aims to investigate pre-service teacher approach to “the learner”. We address the students in the beginning of their teacher education according to their beliefs about what is the most important competence their pupils should learn and relate this also to their beliefs of intelligence (Carr & Dweck, 2011; Dweck;1999) and performativity (Ball; 2003; Beach & Dovemark, 2009). This choice of terminology is not accidental but relate to the above discourses and activities. “Competence” and an interest for “the learner” are key concepts in present days policy discourses and policy initiatives, dominated by ideas of neo-liberalism and performativity (Ball; 2012, Meyer &Benavot; 2013). The 21 century competences are described by Dumont, et al. (2010), reporting an OECD project where an adaptive and self-regulative learner should 1) self-regulate and develop metacognitive skill, 2) monitor, evaluate and optimise the acquisition and use of knowledge, 3) regulate their emotions and motivations during the learner process, 4) monitoring study time well and 5) set higher specific and personal goals, and be able to monitor them. While, on a general level, we can expect that our pre-service teacher students have been exposed to such a discourse, the discourse itself must be considered complex, and the possibility of enactments multitude. With the purpose of analysing the complexity of the discourse and its enactments, the theoretical orientation of our paper is an alternative reading of discourse and performativity found in “agential realism” (see Barad, 2007). Our overarching research questions are: - Firstly, does pre-service teachers preferences of single competences form different patterns of meaning that could develop our understanding of the policy discourse and the enactment process? - Secondly, does these patterns of competence-preferences also have relations to the pre-service teachers subjective beliefs about the nature of intelligence and approach to performativity in the context of “the learner”? - Thirdly, in terms of discourse and the imagery of the learner we will ask, and discuss, the possible powers and influence of official pedagogical discourses, embodied, manifested and enacted by transnational agencies such as the OECD. - Methods Two different research methodologies have been employed in this study, quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative research methodology is inscribed in the employed questionnaire, while our qualitative methodology are inscribed in our theoretical orientation and study design, including discourse analyses of previous research. The conducted discourse analysis is strategic and the 40 selected and frequently cited and peer-reviewed books and articles are made on bases on our own expertise within the field. Different research positions and views on “the learner” as a “boundary object” (Bowker & Star, 1999) of political subjectivities within education in neoliberal times ((Biesta; 2010, Reimers & Martinsson; 2016) are identified and critically analysed. In the Quistionnaire 255 pre-service teachers participated, all in the middle of their first semester. The quantitative measure consisted of the five 21 century competences described by Dumont, et al. (2010), seven competencies from curriculum in the Swedish teacher education, Dweck’s (1999) Theories of Intelligence Scale and last, three items measuring attitudes toward performativity. A principal component factor analyses was conducted. Four factors were extracted. Factor 1, named The neo-liberal, included three of the OECD competencies; A) to self-regulate their learning, B) optimise the knowledge acquisition, C) set higher personal goals and be able to monitor them, and two items from the Swedish curriculum, D) develop creativity and unique idea’s and E) to act in accordance with their own ethics, explained 20.2% of the variance. Factor 2, named The traditional, included; F) knowledge in specific discipline, and the two remaining from OECD, G) regulate their emotions and motivations and H) monitoring study time well, which explained 14.8% of the variance. Factor 3, named The progressive, consisted of I) environmental and social sustainability, J) developing solidarity and empathy, K) develop critical thinking, and L) challenge and act upon accepted norms, which explained 9.1% of the variance. Factor 4 gathered the three items measuring attitude toward performativity explained 7.1% of the variance. We created 4 variables of the items above Pearson’s correlation coefficient revealed three patterns. The neo-liberal factor showed a positive correlation with beliefs about intelligence as dynamic and dependent on how much effort one puts in, in order to develop. The traditional factor showed a positive correlation with beliefs about intelligence as fixed and genetic and a positive correlation with Performativity. The progressive factor showed negative correlations with beliefs about intelligence as fixed and genetic and Performativity. Conclusion Our results reveals three patterns of meaning that cluster together competencies that are believed to be the most important for the future learner (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010). The most pronounced discourse consists of competencies favoured by the dominant idea of neo-liberalism, the second of a traditional view from Swedish curricula and the third as an alternative progressive perspective. These discourses were related to beliefs about the nature of intelligence and the performativity discourse. Those favouring the neo-liberal discourse also favoured incremental theories of intelligence that states that it’s all about effort, the harder you work, the smarter you get. Those favouring the traditional discourse sees intelligence as fixed and genetic, something you have or not and have higher preference for the performativity discourse. Those favouring the progressive discourse do not believe intelligence to be fixed and do not support the performativity discourse. Our discourse analyses of the literature also reveal differences in theoretical perspectives that remind us about the fact that “the learner” is a discursively formed abstraction of some complexity. Altogether our findings indicate a high impact of the OECD discourse on our Swedish pre-service teacher students in the same time as other dominant interests in policy reforms are at play. However, the question remains of how these articulations are to be interpreted as reflections of a dominant and global imaginary about the means and end of education (Riverox and Viczco, 2010; 2015). Our conclusions are in support of Lyotard (1984) and Ball (2003, 2012), that there are clear reorientations of pedagogical discourses, supporting suggestions about a strong impact on performativity regulation on culture and education. But, pre-service teachers students are not a homogeny group and further investigations about how certain discourses about the learner on local levels act and reflect discourses on the global level is needed. References: Ball, S. J. (2003). The teacher's soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18(2), 215-228. Ball, S. J. (2012). Performativity, commodification and commitment: An I-Spy guide to the neoliberal university. British Journal of Edcuational Studies, 60(1), 17-28. Barr, R. & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning – A new paradigm for undergraduate Education. In Change. November/December, 13-27. Beach, D & Dovemark, M. (2009). Making right choices: An ethnographic investigation of creativity and performativity in Swedish schools. Oxford Review of Education, 35(6), 689–704. Biesta, G. (2010). Good education in an age of measurement Ethics, politics, democracy. Boulder, Colo: Paradigm Publishers. Bowker, G. C. & Star, S. L. (1999). Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences. Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press. Carr, P.B., & Dweck, C. S. (2011). Intelligence and motivation. (pp. 748-770) In R.J. Sternberg and S.B. Kaufman (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press. Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia: Psychology press. Lyotard, J-F. (1984). The Postmodern Condition. A Report on Knowledge. Manhester: Manchester University Press. Martinsson, L. & Reimers, L. (Eds.) (2016). Education and Political Subjectivities in Neoliberal Times and Places: Emerging practices and possibilities. London: Routledge. Meyer, H. & Benavot, A. (2013). PISA, power and policy: The emergence of global educational governance. Didcot: Symposium Books. Riveros, A,. & Viczko, M. (2015). The enactment of professional learning policies: performativity and multiple ontologies. In Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36:4, 533-547. Rizvi, F., & Lingard, B. (2010). Globalizing Educational Policy. London: Routledge. Wilson, S. & Berne, J. (1999). Teacher learning and the acquisition of professional knowledge: An examination of research on contemporary professional development. Review of Research in Education., 24, 173-209.

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