“I seem to remember going with quite a thick pile of paper home, and I had no idea what I was doing’: assessment, and the literacy practices of trainee PCET teachers
This is work in progress, and comments or feedback are welcome. Please do not quote from or cite this paper without the permission of the author. Introduction
For many teachers within the post-compulsory education and training (PCET) sector, teacher training provides a first experience of higher education. For lecturers who are already graduates, teacher training provides an experience of work and study within a genre or academic discipline that can be more or less different to one that has been previously studied. Such teacher training tends to be delivered by the HE sector according to one of two models. The first model, pre-service, is the less wide-spread model of delivery, involving a year of full-time study punctuated by work placement, typically at a further education college. The second model, in-service, is larger, and involves studying part-time towards a teaching qualification whilst in paid employment, normally taking up to two years to complete. In-service programmes are delivered in universities, and in further education colleges on a franchise basis. Almost four-fifths of PCET teacher training provision follows this model.
My research is focussed on a PGCE/CertEd programme that is franchised from a university on the North of England, and delivered to a network of FE colleges in the North of England. The research that this paper rests on was carried out amongst a year one part-time student group at one FE college.
This paper rests on two theoretical strands. The first is the concept of learning as socially situated within communities of practice: learning and knowing are aspects of broader social relations amongst people in the world and learning, through the shared negotiation of meaning, is located within membership of communities of practice, of people involved in any kind of shared enterprise (Lave and Wenger 1991; Wenger 1998; Avis et al 2002; Barton and Tusting 2005). Within a community of practice, the role of
discourse is of paramount importance. Different communities have different ways of talking, different modes of expression, and different shortcuts and jargon. These ways of talking can be found not only in conversation but also written down, in artefacts that embody the community’s work. And it is important to consider where these artefacts actually come from: “any community of practice produces abstractions, tools…stories, terms and concepts that reify something of that practice in a congealed form” (Wenger 1998: 59).
Two of the key themes that I am working with in this paper are conspicuous by their absence in a community of practice as originally conceptualised by Lave and Wenger (1991): pedagogy, and assessment, although ways of exploring assessment through communities of practice have been posited (Rømer 2002; Price 2005). In this paper I shall go on to offer some ways of thinking about assessment and pedagogy within communities of practice.
An academic literacies approach to student writing in higher education (Lea and Street 2000; Lillis 2001) can be seen as situated within the broader conceptual framework of literacy as social practice, the second key theoretical strand for this paper. Theories of literacy as social practice view literacy events, mediated by texts, and which occur in different domains of life, as forming a venue for purposeful literacy practices which are historically situated and changeable (Barton 1994; Barton and Hamilton 1998). Such literacy events are shaped not only by social institutions but also by power relationships within those institutions. Social approaches to literacy are sometimes grouped together under the umbrella term of the New Literacy Studies.
This paper seeks to explore some of the...
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