Supporting Professional Learning and Development through International Collaboration in the Co-Construction of an Undergraduate Teaching Qualification
Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 42, No. 3, 403–422, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This paper explores one thread from a longitudinal research programme: that relating to senior managers’ and teacher educators’ reported views and experiences of the collaboration and the impact of the co-constructive approach taken on professional development. It examines the impact of the approach taken to collaboration, which included the development and sharing of a pedagogical model for teacher education (ARM: action, reflection, modelling) and reflects on the value of this to professional learning and development.
The research was developed and managed by academics from Malaysia and the United Kingdom, who were involved in collaboration for the co-construction of a Bachelor of Education (Honours) in Primary Mathematics, with English and health and physical education as minor subjects.
A qualitative research approach was taken and data were collected through interviews with a systematic sample of key informants in years three and four of the four-year degree programme. Informants included two senior managers from the UK university and four from the Institutes of Teacher Education in Malaysia, some of whom were also teacher educators and were interviewed again among the cohort of eight Malaysian teacher educators, four from each institute.
The findings suggest that co-construction of a programme can provide an effective approach to developing teacher education.
The findings suggest the value of establishing trusting relationships that recognise the expertise of educators in all contexts, and that the development of shared understanding and a co-constructive approach to collaboration takes time to achieve. Co-construction was valuable because different starting experiences and assumptions enabled all participants to re-examine their own practice and engage in the type of conversation.
In this collaboration, because the two elements of trust and shared understanding were achieved, the teacher educators in both countries were empowered to analyse critically what the UK participants brought in the context of local practice. Some of the Malaysian participants used parts of the ARM model that transferred easily, because these were already an aspect of their current practice, and critiqued and adapted new elements in order to develop their own pedagogy of teacher education. UK participants, through interaction with another culture of learning and teaching, and through being faced with the need to explain, model and justify their own practice, were able to critique their own pedagogy in a way that had lasting impact.
Insights into the benefits and difficulties associated with the approach used in this project would support improvements in teacher educators’ professional development and future collaborative ventures. There is also value in the learning in relation to capacity-building work with partners.