Investigating the effectiveness of teacher education for early career teachers in diverse settings: the longitudinal research we have to have
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There have been more than 100 reports focusing on the effectiveness of teacher education in Australia over the last 35 years with many positioning teacher education as flawed and in need of reform. These frequent criticisms have drawn attention to the difficulty teacher educators can experience when trying to interrupt or contest this representation: a situation not unique to Australia. In the United States, for example, Pam Grossman has suggested that those in teacher education "seem ill prepared to respond to critics who question the value of professional education for teachers with evidence of our effectiveness" (Grossman in J Teach Educ 59(1):10-23, 2008). A key question facing teacher educators, therefore, concerns the kinds of research that will most effectively allow us to lead debates about teacher preparation. This paper outlines an approach to the conceptualization and conduct of research into the effectiveness of teacher education that seeks to move debates in new directions. Drawing upon the theoretical resources of Soja (Thirdspace: journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places, 1996) and Lefebre (The production of space, 1991) we outline the ways in which a spatial approach to conceptualizing teacher education influenced the design and conduct of a large scale, longitudinal project that investigated the question of the effectiveness of teacher education in Australia. In exploring the design features of this ARC linkage grant the paper demonstrates how research changes when teacher education is conceptualised from a spatial point of view and illustrates the ways in which consideration of the conceived, perceived and lived spaces of teacher education can move research about effectiveness into new directions.
The Australian Educational Researcher