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The work of teacher education : the ten job dimensions of teacher educators' work in England and Scotland

Blake, Allan and McNicholl, Jane and Ellis, Viv and McNally, James (2012) The work of teacher education : the ten job dimensions of teacher educators' work in England and Scotland. In: British Educational Research Association (BERA) Annual Conference, 2008-09-03 - 2008-09-06.

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Following our analysis of institutional categorisations of teacher education in England, we extended our interests to the practical activities in which teacher educators engage - the tasks and the material conditions that constitute their work - in England and also in Scotland, where a very different policy environment for teacher education has evolved historically. We constructed a sample of 13 university-based teacher educators (8 in England, 5 in Scotland), a sample that nonetheless can claim to represent the range of teacher educators according to recent statistical data (HESA 2009) - gender balance, age, range of experience and expertise, institution-type in our sample reflects the demographics of the sector as a whole (Mills et al 2006). Throughout the 2009 - 2010 academic year, we generated data with our sample participants in the following ways: telephone interviews to elicit life histories and perspectives on the material conditions of work; completion of work diaries for two different seven day periods at key points in the academic year; observation of the teacher educator at work for at least one full day. In this paper, we focus on the quantitative analysis of the work diary data (completed by each participant in increments of one hour over two separate weeks), supplemented by field notes from our observations. Lists of the activities of the teacher educators as they had recorded them on the work diaries were made by two members of the research team. This process resulted in a total of 70 items, which contained numerous duplications. The two lists were then reviewed, and items grouped into a reduced number of 32 categories, from which a final combined list of ten job dimensions was agreed. Statistical analyses were made to ensure that comparisons of the two sets of diaries would be reliable and to check for significance (t-tests). To exemplify this in the terms of our data, seven participants (or 54 per cent of the sample) carried out zero hours of research, whereas everyone undertook a measure of relationship maintenance. Relationship maintenance accounted for both the highest maximum individual allocation of hours, as well as the highest minimum individual allocation of hours. Although there were no differences observed between English and Scottish teacher educators in the sample (working in very different policy environments), this finding suggests there may be implications for policy in other national systems that seek essentially school-based but university-partnered teacher education programmes.