Page 96 - Empowering pre-service teachers through inquiry - Lidewij van Katwijk
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                                Chapter 4
 5.3 Perceived value of pre-service teacher research
Perceived value in focus groups
In the focus groups, pre-service teachers and educators explained why they thought pre-service teacher research was valuable. We can distinguish two main categories of value in these responses: as a tool for professional development and for empowerment. All participants identify pre-service teacher research as an adequate tool for professional development. For example, Ethan (TE AU2) explains, “I think a lot of them have actually never done something like this before. Learning by action. This is sort of what’s learning’s all about. Doing this and how exciting it is (that’s why we all do it). And how that can sustain your professional work like teaching.” Others regard pre-service teacher research as a professional development tool, not just for the pre-service teachers but for their mentors too. Ella (TE AU2) reveals, “Then it feels as a false idea about promoting research, ... and research-led things and evidence based and all that talk around that.... Research seems to be restrictive rather than expansive and so I wanted to have that teachers perceived the research that our students were doing, compared to their own experiences that they got an idea what research does, or is not, or what is possible.” Some even note benefits for the teacher educators, as evidenced by Kees (TE NL 1): “If we start communities of learners about research, we can improve practice on the schools and feed our own professional development as well. That is our dream!”
Several responses from both educators and pre-service teachers identify empowerment as a second important perceived value of pre-service teacher research. For example, Andrew (TE AU 1) talks about a specific form of empowerment, namely, the ability to question standard procedures: “When I first started as a teacher educator, I thought that students didn’t need to do or know too much research, they need to learn how to teach! Now, I am of the view that if we don’t start helping them understanding the importance of research ... then at the time they learn to teach ... they will be all replicating the system, and that’s not what we want.” Similarly, Bram (TE NL 1) notes: “I can see the just-graduated students: embracing uncertainties with experience. They now do have the choice not to follow standards and methods slavishly.” Zoe (PST AU 1) affirms this sentiment: “It stops teachers of getting into this rut of staying the same, ‘This is the way that we’ve always done it!’ ... Now what we’ve got are basic tools, we’re able to conduct research ... so I can provide it to the school and give a better example.” None of the pre-service teachers use the term empowerment specifically, but they clearly refer to it; for example, Loes (PST NL 2) comments: “It’s an eye-opener to look at different perspectives of one problem and think how I should ...

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