TITLE: ‘Improving the quality of teaching: Evidence from diverse methodological perspectives’
The field of educational research encompasses a vast array of paradigmatic and methodological perspectives. Arguably, this range has both expanded, on the one hand, and limited, on the other, work done in the name of educational research. In Australia, more than in other parts of the world, and perhaps because we are a smaller community of scholars, the ascendancy of certain perspectives has profoundly shaped the current state of the field. With deep lines of demarcation between sociological and psychological perspectives and between qualitative and quantitative research methods, most of us have been groomed to take sides – to identify ourselves in relation to particular theorists, theories, or traditions. We have been expected to reconcile who we are as educational academics with what we do as educational researchers, often in surprisingly unified ways. In this presentation, I explore how diverse methodological and theoretical perspectives can be brought together to fortify educational research. Drawing on my own recent projects on teacher development, I demonstrate how diverse perspectives, including Foucauldian analysis and randomised controlled trials, can combine to enrich the analysis and the potential impact of the work. I argue that reconciling differences within educational research is critical to ensuring the strength of the field and supporting the next generation of researchers to have a deeper impact on schooling and society. Our legacy as researchers, however defined, is likely to be strengthened as a result.
Jennifer Gore is a Laureate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where she was Dean of Education and Head of School for six years (2008–2013). She completed a Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia, Canada (1983), and PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA (1990), and has held executive roles for the Australian Association for Research in Education, the Australian Council of Deans of Education, and the NSW Teacher Education Council. Currently Director of the Teachers and Teaching Research Centre and Co-Editor of the international journal, Teaching and Teacher Education, Jennifer has won more than AUD $7.2 million in research funding including several grants awarded by the Australian Research Council. Her educational and research interests traverse the terrain from feminist poststructuralism to randomised controlled trials, with a consistent focus on improving schooling. Her work on Quality Teaching (a framework developed with James Ladwig in 2003) has had significant impact in government, Catholic, and independent schools throughout Australia, especially in NSW and the ACT. This program of research subsequently led to the conceptualisation of Quality Teaching Rounds (with Julie Bowe), an innovative approach to teacher professional development. Widely published and cited (more than 9,300 citations), Jennifer is regarded as one of Australia’s leading teaching and teacher education academics. She is deeply committed to supporting teachers in delivering high quality and equitable outcomes for students.