DESIGN EXPERIMENTS IN THE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS
This paper presents results from two projects in a professional development program for teachers. The courses in the program are web-based and require a close connection between practice and theory. The students are partly students at the college, partly teachers in elementary and lower secondary schools. In the paper they are named “teachers” while their students are named “students”. The participants' own professional practice is linked to the courses and used as the testing arena. The paper discusses how the teachers’ new knowledge may be put into practice in the classrooms in the elementary and lower secondary school. Theories about The teacher as researcher and Educational design research have inspired this work. The two projects are guided by the following questions:
How may students’ self-assessments contribute to improve teachers’ feedback on written texts?
How may the use of a Wiki as a publishing tool for book reviews in the course contribute to enhance the teachers’ digital competence and their readiness for using new technologies in their own classrooms?
The first project explores innovative teaching programs in writing and especially dialogical assessment in lower secondary schools. It highlights how the teachers may get important feedback about their comment practice through the students’ self-assessments in the writing process. The aim is to develop new knowledge about teachers’ comments on students’ written texts. Texts from 60 teachers’ classes in the lower secondary school constitute the empirical material from the project. All student self-assessments and teachers’ comments and reports about the writing process are collected on the web. Most students’ self-assessments emphasize to measure skills. But self-assessment may also be included in a process where the dialogue between student and teacher is crucial. In such a dialogue the teacher may get feedback on what the student has understood and been able to take advantage of from the teacher's comments. New methods for self-assessment based on knowledge of theory and on hypotheses about possible improvements are tried out. The experiences have led to reflections and new cycles of design. The project shows that teachers can improve their comments on different levels by “listening to” and studying the students’ self-assessments.
The second project explores teachers’ reflections on challenges and benefits of using a Wiki tool in their own teaching in the elementary school. The reflections are made on the background of the teachers’ own work in the course, using a Wiki for publishing reviews about children’s books. Research has shown that many teachers are not likely to use ICT in their teaching, in spite of clear guidelines concerning this in the Curriculum for the elementary school. The aim is thus to develop knowledge about ways to enhance the use of new technologies integrated in the subjects. Reflection texts from 65 teachers constitute the empirical material from the project. The results show that the teachers have different reasons for not using new technologies. Their reflections nevertheless indicate that the practical experience they get through the working methods in the course, generate multiple ideas for using a Wiki with their own students.