COGNITIVE MAPPING OF PROFESSIONAL RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS IN TEACHER EDUCATION: A NEW METHOD FOR RESEARCHING RELATIONSHIPS IN A 'QUADRACIPROCAL' MODEL
The practicum is widely accepted as a being a mutually beneficial relationship, where mentor teachers, and others in the supervisory construct, recognise it as a mutually beneficial relationship and genuine professional development opportunity (Dobbins 1994 & 1996; Hastings, 2004; Pinder, 2008). The relationships between all members in the supervisory set are a significant component of the pre-service teacher practicum experience (Haigh & Ward, 2004; Montgomery, 2000).
This study explores the epistemological beliefs of a group of university based; Clinical Specialists and Teaching Fellows, participant members of the supervisory construct, to determine their perceptions of the professional reciprocal relationships. In order to explore the epistemological beliefs of the supervisory construct member’s perceptions data were collected from a range of Teaching Fellows and Clinical Specialists. The cognitive mapping activity was undertaken in a focus group setting over a two hour period. Three small groups were organised from within the larger group context.
By means of the focus group, it was intentional to explore ‘enacting’ cognition in the complexity of the lived experience of the cognitive mapping activity. Kincheloe and Steinberg (1999) in the spirit of Vygotski argue that cognition and knowledge are produced in socially situated activities (Kincheloe, 2003). As such the cognitive mapping activity was designed to explore individual and collective knowledge of the concept ‘professional reciprocal relationship’ and ascertain if this would lead to producing a new practical form of shared knowledge and understandings represented in an action-oriented performative manner.
Data obtained from the focus group activity were analysed through and extended reiterative analysis process. Raw data were reviewed and categories into 3 Effects Matrices (a pre-mapping process), one for each small working group in the focus group. The Effects Matrix (Miles & Huberman, 1994) were used to determine the invariant constituents and applied to the Moustakas (1994) modified Van Kaam (1959, 1966) method for phenomenological data analysis (Moustakas, 1994:120-122). Data derived through the focus group activity was intended to represent a subjective ‘collective’ world view of the participants and provide a broadly generalised understanding of what constitutes a professional reciprocal relationship (Eden, 2004).