Title: A Call for Teachers to do Research
Authors: David C. Contreras and Zayra A. Cárdenas
Universidad Pedagógica Nacional
A Call for Teachers to do Research
“The teacher is like a gardener who treats different plants differently, and not like
a large scale farmer who administers standardized treatments to as near as possible
The understanding of the educational process has been analyzed from different views through history, primarily based on the perception of enclosures (such as schools) as the place in which the process is developed. In order to see the process itself, research has approached to the school on internal and external views. The first based on the teacher’s reflection on classroom interactions, questioning why students behave and perform in a particular way. And the second, based on the analysis that research on teaching do as outsiders from the school and the process. The purpose of this essay is to show that teacher research not only differs from academic research because it shows situated results that have a meaningful contributions to scholar community, but also purpose the active participation of teacher’s work as an important part of the research process.
The two views are useful for the educational development, some authors as Lodico and Voegtle (2010) point out that this views belong to a type of “combined methods” in which teacher research act as part of the research on teaching showing deeper results or classroom experiences; unfortunately, the external view (research on teaching) is the most common way to analyze the educational process in schools, leaving several problems that teacher research could solve (if it were done more often).
First of all is necessary to define the term research on teaching. According to Shulman (1986), research on teaching is characterized as a process-product relation, in which effective teaching, is analyzed based on correlation of particular processes, or teacher behaviors with products associated with student achievement recognized trough standardized tests. In other words teacher behaviors are consider “causes” and student learning is regarded as “effects”. Taking this into account, Apple (1986) stated that research on teaching has been associated with the view of teacher-as-technician, this leads to think about a linear form in which teacher’s work ends up being simple instructions during the classroom interactions. Also, another important characteristic to noun is that this kind of research has a perspective that is “outside-in”; in other words it has been conducted almost exclusively by university-based researchers who are outside of the day-to-day practices of schooling.
Consequently, teachers are excluded of research process; those who have daily access, extensive expertise, and clear stake in improving classroom practice have no formal way to make their knowledge of classroom teaching and learning part of the literature on teaching.
On the other hand, teacher research was born as a perspective in which teachers have the opportunity to be the active participants, also this process encourages to see from an internal view the schools. Lawrance Stenhouse (as cited in Rudduck and Hopkins, 1985), defines research as “systematical, self-critical enquiry”, this perception gives the capacity to teachers to be self-aware about the classroom environment.
A very good approach to the teacher research was done by Anderson (2009), who states that teachers engage in research by working with students to facilitate learning, lesson plans development, student’s work evaluation, and sharing outcomes with students, parents, and administrators. Also she mentions that teachers design and implement a plan of action to observe and analyze outcomes, and modify plans to better meet the needs of students. That is research. From this perspective, most teachers could engage actively in research every day by improving good teaching that is planned and written down in a formal way along with action research tools applied to the classroom.
It is evident that approaching to this kind of research applied to the school as external and internal view does not only constitutes an argue between them, but also propose a meaningful change in how the teacher is capable to innovate and grow. According to Lawrence Stenhouse (1984), the teacher who uses teacher research does not need to be told what to do; this means that the teacher-researcher not only bases their classes on instructions from the top, instead of following a vertical organization of power.
To sum up, teaching at school does not only depend on the observation and interpretation made by research on teaching. As it was shown, this kind of research positions the teacher’s work under a lineal and traditional methodology which inhibits teacher’s creativity. But, teacher research encourages teachers to do the opposite, being fundamental part of the research process, and educational improvement.
For teachers in training, it is important to do research and not to conform to be analyzed by others. At the end of the process, the teaching practice based on our research could save the classroom problems in which are the biggest flaws of the educational systems.
Anderson, G. (2009). An introduction to teacher research
Retrieved from: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/659
Apple, M. (1986). Teachers and texts: a political economy of class and gender relations in education.
Lodico, M, Spaulding, D, Voegle, k (2010) Methods in Educational Research: From Theory to Practice.
Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those Who Understand: Knowledge Growth in Teaching. Educational Researcher, pp. 4-14 – Vol. 15, No.2.
Wilson, E. (2007) Introduction: Why should teachers do school-based research? School-based Research, 1-10.
 The term, literature on teaching is related to the final product (or the paper) result of research.
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