The recipient of the Endeavour Research Fellowship award by the Australian Federal Government, Dr Sye-Foong Yee from the Teacher Education Institute of Malaysia spent four months with the Graduate School of Education earlier this year. During this time she undertook research into the viability of the Case Method for teacher education using the methodology of Phenomenology. The research was grounded in an attempt to go back to the experience of the Case Method itself to understand how learning takes place in a teacher professional development activity.
“The Case Method is increasingly recognised as a viable pedagogy for teacher education. However, the limited available research supporting this assertion is inconclusive,” says Dr Yee.
“The research I undertook during my time at UWA is a descriptive phenomenological investigation that aims to describe science teachers’ experience of the Case Method approach to professional development.”
The Case Method is a teaching approach using a teaching case, which is basically a case study that has been edited for teaching purposes.
For Dr Yee’s research, science teachers took part in a workshop that used the Case Method to deliver the teaching case The ‘Not-so-simple’ Simple Electric Circuit. Following the workshop, in-depth interviews with the teachers’ (referred to as co-researchers) facilitated comprehensive descriptions providing the basis for intuitive-reflective analyses to obtain the meanings and essences of the lived-in experience of the Case Method.
The findings of this study revealed the unique and exclusive intricacies of the co-researchers’ Case Method experience.
Not aware that students could have a different idea of what they were teaching, many teachers questioned themselves about their own teaching methods.
The experience was the process of re-constructing one’s own alternative conceptions of the electric circuit and coming to terms with it. It was personal and professional learning in accordance with each co-researcher’s inimitable style of learning.
“The nature of learning of the co-researchers based on the teaching case The ‘Not-so-simple’ Simple Electric Circuit is an example of the “situated” or contextualized nature of knowing and thinking in case-based teaching,” says Dr Yee.
“This is knowledge that can augment the existing literature on the Case Method in teacher education.”
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