TODAY -

Quality Enrichment in Teacher-Education Programme: Psychological Perspective

M Arunkumar Singh *

A Classroom at Moirang Multipurpose Higher Secondary School on 09th Oct, 2011
A Classroom at Moirang Multipurpose Higher Secondary School on 09th Oct, 2011 :: Pix - Shanjoy Mairembam



A teacher is a practical person. Knowing how to teach is not enough, rather being able to teach well is what is needed from a teacher. A good teacher is one who teaches well, more specifically one who makes the learner learn what is being taught. Teaching is done to make/help someone learn, know, understand, be clear, and be able to apply, use and act.

A teacher's task are many - motivating students, managing the classroom, assessing prior knowledge, communicating ideas effectively, taking into account the characteristics of the learners, assessing learning outcomes, and reviewing information (Slavin 2009). All the tasks, involved in teaching, are carried out through many activities. The teacher tells, explains a concept/theory, instructs what is to be done and how it is to be done, illustrates a phenomenon with an act, shows the steps to be followed, models the act, guides to be cleared about a concept, discusses the limitation of an approach, scaffolds the thinking process, etc, to mention a few. These are the activities involved in the real practice of teaching.

In addition to these teaching-specific activities, there are other activities for planning necessary acts and preparing necessary materials. They are meant to make the practice of teaching effective and they may be known as activities for teaching. These activities are not less important as compared to the teaching - specific activities. One such activity is seeking to know the learners, their nature, their problems, their talents and weaknesses, their learning, their needs, their differences, etc.

This knowledge will help to plan and carry out effective lessons, discussions, projects, and other learning experiences. Knowing about how learning, problem-solving skills, and creativity are acquired will help to plan the act to promote their acquisition. Seeking to know how to motivate children and how to deal with individual differences among students is an important activity for a teacher.

It is to note that research forms an important basis/ground for these varied activities. The aim of research in educational psychology is to test the various theories that guide the actions of teachers and others involved in education (Slavin, 2009). Research in educational psychology not only provides evidence for principles of effective practice but also provide evidence about the effectiveness of particular programs of practices (Fleischman, 2006).

There is evidence on the effectiveness of dozens of widely used programs, from methods in particular subjects to strategies for reforming entire schools (Ellis, 2001; Guter, Ester,& Schwab, 2003; Slavin & Lake,2006; Slavin, Lake, & Grot, 2007). It is important for a teacher to maintain a working knowledge of relevant research, and an interest in it. (Slavin, 2009). There is one caution, however, that teachers must critically analyse the research they read to judge whether the conclusions are warranted from the data reported and whether the findings are applicable to the teacher's own situations (Mc Devitt & Ormrod, 2002).

The research literature on children's thinking, development, and learning grows by leaps and bounds, every year. Nevertheless, teachers sometimes encounter problems in the classroom that the existing research literature doesn't address. In such circumstances, they can conduct their own research. When teachers conduct systematic studies of issues and problems in their own schools/classrooms, with the goal of seeking more effective interventions in the lives of children, they are conducting action research.

This teacher research is becoming an increasingly popular endeavor among teachers, educational administrators, and other professionals (Mc Devitt &Ormod, 2002). Such research takes numerous forms, for example, it might involve assessing the effectiveness of a new teaching technique, gathering information about student opinions on a schoolwide issue, or conducting an in-depth case study of a particular student (Cochram - Smith & Lytle, 1993; Mills, 2000).

Action research is a powerful tool, and it is important for the teachers to pursue opportunities, whether in their teacher preparation programs or in later course work or in services, to learn more about it (Mc Devitt & Ormrod, 2002). Research conducted by teachers provides a forum for solving problems, broadening and deepening perspectives on real-life issues of teaching and learning, creating alliances, fostering a community spirit among teachers, drawing attention to the legitimacy of teachers knowledge and practice, and transforming schools to promote social justice (Noffke, 1997).

In addition to this form of teacher research, there is another form of research in which teachers gather their own data in the classroom very informally, such as when they "read" their student's learning and thinking. This information will help them to take the next course of action. Thus, teachers may be informally "reading" their students or more formally collecting data for action research.

Research then forms an important part in teacher's life. It helps teachers in many ways, for instance, by illuminating effective and ineffective teaching practices, promoting new ways of thinking about child and adolescent development, and engendering optimism about making a difference in students' lives. Good research methods and critical analysis are not the activities for professors and college students; they can also shed light on the daily dilemmas or practicing teachers.

The questions researchers raise about the validity of measurement instruments are just as important in classroom teaching as they are in scholarly research. The questions researchers raise about casual relationships between variables are of as much interest to teachers as they are to theorists (Mc Devitt & Ormod, 2002). Then, it is important, for the teachers, to acquire/develop research and critical thinking skills. The thinking skills will help the teacher in all their activities.

Teacher education program is done to help students acquire necessary knowledge and skills to become effective teachers. In fact, they are learners, and thus they need to acquire learning skills as to how to learn to become self-regulated learners. The learning skills include thinking skills including reasoning and critical thinking skills.

They need to acquire research skills and skills in using psychological tools - psychological tests, questionnaires, interviews, observations, and experiments to collect relevant information about human behaviors. It is not simply the theoretical knowledge about the psychological tools that is important but the practical experiences of using these tools. This sort of learning will definitely help the future effectiveness of the students as teachers. They will be able to collect relevant and valid data for their formal or informal research work done for their practice.

Thinking skills are needed for the teachers to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for their varied activities and also to carry out these same activities. In many studies that have looked at the differences between expert and novice teachers and between more and less effective teachers, one finding/difference emerges: expert teachers are critical thinkers ((Hogan, Roinowitz, & Craven 2003; Mosenthal et. al., 2004; Shulman, 2000).

It is a humble attempt to propose certain ideas relating to quality enrichment in teacher- education, programme: psychological perspective. As mentioned in the opening statement of this paper: "A teacher is a practical person". As such, it is important to get practical orientation of the skills to be acquired by the students so that these skills will be practically applied in carrying out different activities required for his/her practice as teacher.


* M Arunkumar Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is Guest Faculty at RK Sanatombi Devi College of Education, Imphal.
This article was posted on June 25 2012



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