Within institutionalised educational activities one of, if not the, most important factor for students’ learning is the teacher’s manner of teaching. In this symposium we will present the framework and some of the results from a project where we are identifying teaching traditions – manners of teaching that many teachers use – within science education and physical education and analysing the pros and cons of each of the traditions regarding learning. In other words, the project focuses on the institutional dimension of learning, by identifying limits and possibilities for learning offered by different teaching traditions. The results of this research will then, from the perspective of cooperative engineering (Sensevy et al 2013), be tested in use together with practicing teachers in order to evaluate their potential for helping teachers cope with important didactic choices in planning, realizing and evaluating their teaching.
The project builds on a comparative didactics approach (Caillot 2007; Mercier, Schubauer-Leoni & Sensevy 2002) in combination with a pragmatic perspective on teaching and learning. The ambition is to search for as many different teaching traditions as possible in order to optimize the possibility to find effective and fruitful teaching approaches. Therefore, the project includes participants from various contexts in three countries; France, Sweden and Switzerland.
Teaching is only possible through the process of inclusion and exclusion of content (Englund 1986). The term privileging, coined by Wertsch (1998), explicate the fact that also the learning process includes choices (cf. Almqvist & Östman 2006). The term draws attention to the fact that participants in the learning process valuate and judge certain artefacts, meetings, questions, and so forth, as reasonable and fruitful, while others, though fully conceivable, are ignored or disregarded.
The privileging that takes place during meaning-making directs learning in a certain direction and toward certain content (i.e. Wickman & Östman 2002) and is limited by the institutional "boundaries" in which knowledge, teaching and learning unfold. Focusing on the didactical aspects of education, we search for the connections between selective traditions (cf. Östman 1996, Quennerstedt 2006), teachers’ manners of teaching (cf. Lundqvist et al 2012) and students’ privileging (cf. Almqvist & Östman 2006). These three concepts deal with the fact that activities as education, teaching and learning are constituted by selection of content and teaching strategies.
In our analyses we are interested to find out what role encounters with the teacher has for students’ privileging and learning. Especially we are interested to find out which role the manner of teaching has for students’ learning of habits of privileging and what effect certain habits have for the learning outcome. The learning of specific habits of privileging is occurring in the interplay between students’ earlier knowledge and experiences, the interaction with peers and the manners of teaching (Lundqvist et al 2012).
Studies in comparative didactics may be productive in that they contribute with knowledge about different ways of the teaching and learning of specific subject content (Caillot 2007). The differences and similarities identified in the studies will help to describe teaching learning in each school subject more precisely and thereby generate new knowledge about different school subjects. In order to maximize the finding of different teaching traditions we make i) investigations in four subjects – physics, chemistry, biology and physical education and health – in Sweden, France and Switzerland and ii) comparative investigations within these four subjects between the three countries and iii) comparative investigation between these four subjects and between countries.
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