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In-service training as cognitive apprenticeship
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Specialpedagogiska institutionen.
Department of Didactic Science and Early Childhood Education.
Department of Didactic Science and Early Childhood Education.
2007 (English)In: Sociocultural perspectives on teacher education and development: New directions for research – SOCIOTED, 7-8 April 2008 in Oxford University, England, 2007Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The issue of this paper is to present and discuss a project for in-service training of some teachers employed within advanced vocational education (AVE), part of higher education in Finland. The political visions of an increased proportion of people with higher education, not only in Finland but in the Western world as a whole, have contributed to teachers encountering with new groups of students with non-academic backgrounds. These students have been accepted for studies but an increasing proportion fail in examinations. Especially language teachers at this specific AVE, a small polytechnic institution, were concerned about how the situation had developed. According to their understanding, an increasing amount of the students had dyslexia. Therefore the had attended courses and lectures, which however did not provide them with the tools they needed. An expert was enrolled, in order to work with the students. Instead of working with remedial programmes, her work focused on students; reading and writing strategies, which became a success. As a result, the school wanted her to work with an increasing number of students. Instead an in-service training project that would provide the teachers with the competence of the expert was initiated. The project was designed based on socio-cultural perspectives on learning, drawing on the concepts distributed expertise (Palinscar & Brown, 1984), literacy practices (Street, 1984; Gee, 1996; Lea & Street, 1998) and cognitive apprenticeship (Rogoff, 1984, 1990). As a whole, the project consisted of two parts: firstly, the experts work with the students, and secondly, the in-service training for teachers. Here, the main focus is on in-service training for the teachers but as the content of this in-service training is students' reading and writing strategies, it is necessary to describe part of the project directed towards the students as well. The aim of the work directed to students at risk was on the one hand related to trying out and developing appropriate tools for identifying students at risk, and to explore their current reading and writing strategies and making the students aware of and other, more relevant strategies as well as helping them to change their current strategies on the other. The expert's findings about students' current strategies contribute to the picture of the characteristics of readers and writers inadequate strategies for reading and writing. Her work also included identifying what kind of reading and writing was expected from the students within each of the eight programmes included in the project. In all, 112 students were tested, 57 of these were offered the programme, 41 students accepted joining the programme and 29 finished it. The aim of the in-service training was to make it possible for the teachers to appropriate the competencies of the expert. Therefore the in-service project was designed on ideas of cognitive apprenticeship and distributed expertise. In other words, the expertise was to be distributed to the teachers attending the in-service programme. The programme started with only two teachers; a year later they were expected to take over some of the work and new teachers were accepted for the programme as newcomers, and after one more year further teachers were invited. As a complement to apprenticeship, seminars related to specific texts were offered. In manual work, apprenticeship is organised in relation to a production that involves material, tools, and techniques - in a way this work is transparent. When it comes to cognitive work, the material, tools and techniques are opaque rather than transparent, therefore the design of cognitive apprenticeship must involve possibilities for making the competence underlying planning, decision-making and reflection more transparent. The text seminars mentioned were one means offered in order to make the expert's competencies visible. In the paper these ideas are further developed. The results of the project are discussed on two levels. Firstly in relation to teachers' knowledge formation - that is their struggle with their strong contemporary conception of these students' as suffering from dyslexia on the one hand and with their emerging insights of the relational and contextual aspects of what it means to become literate within a specific AVE-programme. Secondly, the results are related to organisational conditions for these teachers to use the competence they have appropriated. Finally, we discuss the relation between the practice-concept in New Literacy Studies and that used in studies based on socio-cultural and activity theoretical studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-16848OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-16848DiVA: diva2:183368
Note
Invited presentationAvailable from: 2008-12-29 Created: 2008-12-29Bibliographically approved

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