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How To Make Innovations Practical

by Fred Janssen, Hanna Westbroek, Walter Doyle & Jan van Driel - 2013

Background/Context: A fundamental tension has long existed between school reform proposals and actual teaching practice. Despite a large literature on teacher change, the discontinuity between innovation and practice continues and many attempts to reform teaching fail to be enacted in most classrooms.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this paper is to present a bridging methodology for connecting pedagogical innovations to the practical demands of teaching. The methodology is framed within practicality theory, which is an ecologically grounded analysis of the design issues and constraints that practitioners face in the everyday work of teaching. To conduct lessons, teachers must construct procedures (instrumentality) that fit circumstances (congruence) within available time and resources (cost). Underlying these practicality dimensions is a set of reasoning processes that can be understood from the perspective of three strands of research on bounded rationalityógoal systems, heuristics, and evolutionary planning.

Intervention/Program/Practice: The analysis of teacher practical reasoning provides a design foundation for a bridging methodology consisting of (a) construction of a heuristic goal system (HGS) representation of the hierarchy of goals and heuristic means that underlie a teacherís planning decisions with respect to lesson segments used to carry out instruction; and (b) a teaching impact analysis (TIA) that connects an innovationís lesson structure to a teacherís heuristic goal system and shows how a teacher can adapt his/her current practice to achieve increased expected value (i.e., an improvement).

Research Design: This study was designed as an analytical essay that theorizes teaching practice, teacher reasoning, and a bridging methodology for connecting teaching practice with specific educational innovations. Cases of an experienced biology teacher and of 11 student teachers are presented that demonstrate the nature of this bridging methodology and variations in its use in particular circumstances.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The bridging framework provides a practical tool for identifying the action-guiding model of a teacher, the connection of this model to the precise components of an innovation, and the recombination or adaptations a teacher can make to achieve personal goals through an innovation. Although further studies are needed, this framework promises to furnish a powerful tool for making innovations practical.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 7, 2013, p. 1-42
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17052, Date Accessed: 6/13/2021 11:28:51 AM

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About the Author
  • Fred Janssen
    Leiden University
    E-mail Author
    FRED JANSSEN is associate professor and (biology) teacher educator at ICLON, Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching. His main interest is building a practically useful theory for understanding and influencing teacherís decision making in pre-, inter- and post-active phases of teaching.
  • Hanna Westbroek
    VU University of Amsterdam
    E-mail Author
    HANNA WESTBROEK is assistant professor and chemistry teacher educator at the VU University of Amsterdam. Her initial research interest concerned design-based research on the question how to make chemistry education meaningful to students. Since some years her research focus has shifted to the teacherís role in educational processes, teacher professional development and especially bridging the gap between research-based innovations and teaching practice from a bounded rationality perspective.
  • Walter Doyle
    University of Arizona
    E-mail Author
    WALTER DOYLE is professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona. His interests center on classroom processes, curriculum theory, and the discourses within teacher education communities.
  • Jan van Driel
    Leiden University
    E-mail Author
    JAN VAN DRIEL is a professor of Science Education and director of ICLON, Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching. His main research interests concerns the knowledge base of teaching. Among others, he conducted and supervised several studies on the pedagogical content knowledge of science teachers. He published in various journals, including Educational Researcher, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, and Learning and Instruction. Currently he is associate editor of the International Journal of Science Education.
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