In my epistemology class, we are being asked to keep a journal over the weeks of this semester. Initially, I was writing them privately, but have decided to post them to my blog to reflect the research journey I am on. For the most part, the journals are written as I engage with our required text: The Research Journey– Introduction to Inquiry by Sharon F. Rallis and Gretchen B. Rossman (2012).
Chapter 3- The Cycle of Inquiry
After this week’s seminar, I started to realize a little more that my work needs to be anchored in some theoretical framework- that is to say that I need to be clear from what lens I peer. For most of my life, I have never really thought about my belief system, but from today’s discussion, I notice I definitely fall more into the realm of Vygoski (with learning comes development) rather than that of Piaget (we learn when we are developmentally ready). There really is just so much to figure out and I still have no idea how it all fits together at this point in time. My approach to our class discussions is to just let things wash over me, knowing I will pick up on some things because I am ready to accept them, but other key ideas might have to be addressed later once I have more theoretical experience. Hmm..I wonder what this model of learning is- maybe that is Piaget? I definitely appreciate the change to discuss these ideas with others and get their perspectives so clearly believe a social aspect is important.
One of the interesting aspects of our class this week was when we physically mapped out our perspectives along the Objectivist-Interpretivist Continuum and the Sociology of Regulation-Sociology of Radical Change Continuum (Activity 2.3 in the text). I found it very fascinating that the majority of our class was found at the interprevist end of one axis, but that we were much more spread out based on our assumptions about the nature of the social world. I suspect these differences will begin to play out in class discussions as we get a little more comfortable in our learning environment (a shout out to the importance of the Tribes philosophy!). I think my ‘practical’ positioning and need for talking through my learning became evident as I kept interjecting my thoughts about how some of the theories related back to my classroom experiences and what I know about schools.
Another pivotal moment for me in today’s discussion centred around the discussion of Albert Bandura’s Social learning Theory http://www.simplypsychology.org/bandura.html and the role it may play in my study of new teachers and mentors. Having never heard of Bandura before , I am beginning to think that it might be important to get better versed in his social cognitive theory that states that ‘social and cognitive factors, as well as behavior, play important roles in learning’ . I also subscribe to the self-efficacy theory that confidence in one’s own ability will determine action: that success breeds success. So what does this mean for me and new teacher induction? The steps that make up self-efficacy theory (as presented to us in class) make sense to me: Mastery (successful and frequent experiences- levels of use?), Modelling (mentors?), Persuasive Experiences (encouragement & feedback), and Mood (a person’s physiological state- desire?) play a role in creating effective teachers. In fact, it is at this point that I was reminded of my mentor & school administrator, George Singfield. He had been to a session in Quebec City (Recontre Nationales) and was struck by the keynote speaker’s, Guy le Boterf, theory on building competency, one requires: vouloir, pouvoir, et savoir. George adopted this triangle (knowledge, capacity and desire) into our discussions about all areas of school improvement and it has stayed with me every since. I can see where the knowledge and the desire fall into the self-efficacy theory, but what about a person’s capacity? Are there limits to how much someone can learn? What role does ‘intellect’ or ‘ability’ play? At this point, I am also wondering about the art and science of teaching- how much can be taught and how much is personality/innate?
When it comes to the inquiry process, I was intrigued by many aspects of our reading this week, especially the idea that “the normative group, especially in social sciences whose aim is to produce knowledge to serve the human population, often extends- and should extend- beyond scientists.” It is my understanding from this that the inquiry process should include the voice of those directly involved with the inquiry project – in my case, not only should I care what teachers have to say about the induction and mentoring process, but what do students have to say about it?