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The usability of didactic models in the standardisation of education

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Matanović, Iva. (2017). The usability of didactic models in the standardisation of education. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Pedagogy.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije) [mentor Palekčić, Marko].

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Abstract

The starting point for this study is the unfavourable reputation and status of general didactics (both in the academic community and the current education reforms), as well as its decreasing importance in teacher education. General didactics, traditionally viewed as the science of teaching which is characteristic for its normative and theoretical approach, has found itself in a difficult position within today’s global reform process of the standardisation of education (Hopmann, 2007; Zierer i Seel, 2012; Wernke, Werner i Zierer, 2015). In the light of increasing dissatisfaction with general didactics as a result of poor achievement in international tests of students’ knowledge (PISA, TIMMS) in Germany and other countries influenced by the German didactic tradition in education, also arguments stemming from the uselessness of didactic models as indicated in the previous empirical studies, then the fact that, for the last several decades, the development of didactic knowledge has been modelled as mere differentiation between the existing theories and models (Zierer i Seel, 2012; Wernke, Werner i Zierer, 2015) and thus created the problem of identity and the scientific status of pedagogy and didactics (Palekčić, 2001, 2010, 2012, 2015), which consequently means that the didactic tradition is not integrated into the current reform trend and has no significant role in it, the relevant literature questions the future of general didactics and suggests its possible successors (Hopmann, 2007; Palekčić, 2007b; Zierer i Seel, 2012). The usability of didactic models in the standardisation of education is the issue that fits into a wider context of relationships between the two dominant education traditions – the European (German) tradition of didactics and the Anglo-Saxon tradition of curriculum and instruction – with education standards representing a continuation of the latter one. To put it more precisely, in our European didactic context, present education reforms follow the tradition of Robinsohn’s reform of education as a revision of curriculum, for the first time introducing the term curriculum into the didactically marked tradition of using the European term teaching plan and programme ((Palekčić, 2005, 2006; Previšić, 2007a; Jurčić, 2012; Zierer & Seel, 2012). Since education standards represent a continuation of the Anglo-Saxon curricular tradition of culture and education, we can say that the required introduction of education standards implies a series of tensions between the dominant Anglo-Saxon and the European plan and programme tradition, i.e. didactics, with education (Ger. Bildung) as the central concept, because the relationship between the two traditions is so complex, multi-layered and dynamic (Palekčić, 2009a). Considering the main similarities and differences between European didactic tradition and the Anglo-Saxon tradition of curriculum and instruction, phases of their relationship, mutual influences, as well as the controversial issue of complementarity or separation of the traditions and opportunities for their fruitful dialogue (Hopmann & Riquarts, 1995; Kansanen, 1995; Westbury, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002; Reid, 1998, 2002; Hopmann, 2007; Palekčić, 2007a; Zierer i Seel, 2012), we can conclude that the two traditions may indeed in certain respects be seen as complementary and learn a lot from each other. However, it should be remembered that both traditions have different cultural starting points that a fruitful dialogue between them should consider. Considering the fact that didactics has been challenged within the standardisation of education, the aim of this dissertation is to discover, both theoretically and empirically, the background argumentation which supports the idea of general didactics being in an unfavourable position and its possible successors. In other words, we have tried to see whether the current situation and resulting discussion really means the end of general didactics, i.e. whether it should be replaced by other approaches that can fit into the tradition of curriculum and instruction. We have tried to find the answers at two levels throughout: (1) the theoretically relevant pedagogic-didactic reflection on the reform process related to the standardisation of education in order to see whether the models it supports (education standards and empirical research into teaching) can replace general didactics (H1) and (2) an empirical study into the usability of didactic models in lesson planning (H2, H3 and H4). The term usability means the advantages of theory in practice (Zierer & Wernke, 2013). Starting from the aim of the study mentioned above, the following initial hypotheses have been considered: H1: Models promoted in current education reforms (education standards and empirical research into teaching) can replace general didactics. H2: Didactic models are useless. H3: Didactic models are different in terms of their usability. H4: Participants’ duration of work experience is not related to how they evaluate the usability of didactic models. The research methodology has included two approaches – the classical non-empirical qualitative approach to literature in the field of pedagogy and the empirical (survey) study into the didactic models of lesson planning that was conducted in 2015 (April and May) on the sample of 298 participants, 150 of them being the students of teacher education and teachingorientated studies at the Juraj Dobrila University of Pula and 148 of them being teachers in lower and upper primary school grades in 9 schools in the city of Pula. Using a five-point Likert scale questionnaire, the participants evaluated the usability of three most popular didactic models of lesson planning – Klafki’s Perspective Schema model, Heimann’s Berlin model and Schulz’s Hamburg model. SPSS package (version 2.1) was used for statistical data processing, including descriptive analysis, analysis of sub-scale(s) reliability and inferential statistics. In order to find arguments for the suggestions about education standards and empirical research into teaching as the potential successors of didactics, we applied the scientific pedagogic-didactic reflection to: (1) a wider context of emerging global reforms towards the standardisation of education and the accompanying phrase the society of knowledge; (2) the concept and meaning of education standards, competences and the accompanying phrase new teaching culture (their criticism from education-theoretical viewpoint included (a) the consideration of three features, which Hopmann (2007) sees as the essence of didactics – commitment to the concept of education (ger. Bildung), difference between content (matter) and meaning, and autonomy of teaching and learning – from the humanistic pedagogic-didactic perspective as well as from the functional perspective of education standards, and (b) the pedagogic-didactic critical reflection on the paradigm regarding the transition from teaching to learning); (3) the culture of testing based on the Anglo-Saxon education tradition, and (4) the relationship between didactics and empirical research into teaching. The answer to the question whether the models that promote current education reforms (education standards and empirical research into teaching) can replace general didactics was obtained when we collected the following (segmented) conclusions resulted from the critical pedagogic-didactic reflection on the standardisation of education: 1) From the education-theoretical viewpoint, the industrialisation and de-hierarchisation of knowledge happens in the society of knowledge (knowledge is evaluated according to its economic, political and media usability) (Liessmann, 2008), the reforms of education standardisation are primarily motivated by political and economic interests (a constant need for the reform becomes an overall political ideology) (Ibid), and the school system is largely seen as a social function in them (Palekčić, 2006, 2009b, 2015b), so we conclude that the reforms of education standardisation do not make the pedagogic-didactic discussion on the purpose and meaning of school and teaching unnecessary (these reforms cannot exclude such a discussion) if there is a true desire for the improvement of teaching and school, which consequently implies the better development of the entire society. 2) From the humanistic pedagogic-didactic perspective, education standards (models of competences) are viewed as a reduced and operationalised term of education and thus do not cover the complete personality development (Bašić, 2007a, 2007b; Šoljan, 2007; Liessmann, 2008; Palekčić, 2009a; Ravitch, 2012; Palekčić, 2015b), and from the humanistic perspective the term such as education is one of the fundamental features when the essence of didactics is considered (Hopmann, 2007), so we conclude that education standards cannot replace general didactics in this aspect. 3) Since education standards do not imply a difference between the content and the meaning (Hopmann, 2007; Palekčić, 2007a), and their difference also represents one of the basic features of didactics (Hopmann, 2007), we conclude that education standards cannot replace general didactics when it comes to this aspect either. 4) From the didactic perspective, education standardisation has a consequence in a smaller degree on teacher and learner freedom and autonomy (Bašić, 2007a; Hopmann, 2007; Šoljan, 2007; Braathe, 2012; Wacker i Strobel-Eisele, 2013; Palekčić, 2015b), and the autonomy of teaching and learning is one of the fundamental features of didactics (Hopmann, 2007), we conclude that education standards cannot replace general didactics even in this aspect. 5) If we take into account the main conclusion resulted from the critical scientific reflection according to which the relationship between teaching and learning should be dialectically seen (Palekčić, 2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2015a), which means that it should not be understood as a neglect of teaching and active teacher role, but as a more powerful and more functional link between teaching and learning, we can conclude that education standards based on the transition from teaching to learning paradigm cannot replace general didactics which requires a dialectical bondage between teaching and learning. 6) The critical approach to education standardisation seen from the perspective of the AngloSaxon education tradition (Ravitch, 2012) in its basic arguments coincides with the critical remarks originated from the European didactic tradition since both support the humanistic vision of education, emphasise that education standardisation represents a narrower and mechanistic concept of education, and also mention the same negative consequences on teaching, learners and teachers, and the entire society (a neglect of non-measurable teaching results, teaching to test effect, quality reduced to quantity, and alike). All this additionally contribute to our conclusion that education standards cannot replace general didactics. 7) Available resources, especially the results of meta-theoretical analysis of education sciences researches (Palekčić, 2001) and critical pedagogical-didactic reflection on attempts to integrate empirical approaches into the system of general didactics (Palekčić, 2007b), as well as the existence of crucial irreconcilable differences between general didactics and empirical research into teaching (the normative and theoretical vs. the empirical-analytical approach, teaching as an open act of intertwining contents and meanings vs. teaching as a multi-layered constellation of factors, and alike) (Hopmann, 2007) lead to the conclusion that empirical research into teaching cannot replace general didactics. If we encompass the conclusions of each element built into the pedagogic-didactic reflection on education standardisation, starting from the arguments presented above, we can conclude that our theoretical hypothesis (H1) has not been confirmed, which means that the models which promote current education reforms (education standards and empirical research into teaching) cannot replace general didactics. In the empirical study the participants evaluated the usability of didactic models according to four sub-scales, which represented the categories of their usability (5-point Liker scale). Since the mean value of such scale is 2.5, all the values above 3 were interpreted as positive (Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015) The Perspective Schemas Model is evaluated by means above 3 in each sub-scale, so it was overall positively evaluated. The sub-scale of content (M=3.49) was ranked the highest. A bit lower evaluation, but still positive, was found in the sub-scale of presentation (M=3.39), while the subscales of relatedness to practice (M=3.27) and comprehensiveness (M=3.22) revealed Klafki’s model as the weakest, so we can see them as the model’s weakest points. We can conclude that the participants experienced the Perspective Schemas Model as entirely content-reliable and well-presented, while the evaluations regarding the relatedness to practice and comprehensiveness were seen as more neutral, so they represent the aspects that should be enhanced. In the preliminary study (Ćatić, 2016) the Perspective Schemas Model was evaluated slightly worse in even three sub-scales (presentation, content and relatedness to practice), but these differences were so discrete and we can conclude that this model was similarly evaluated in both studies, all in all positively, having the sub-scale means from M=3 to M=3.5. The studies conducted in the German-speaking countries also positively evaluated the Perspective Schema Model as a whole, but the German participants (Zierer & Wernke, 2013; Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015) evaluated Klafki’s Model better than the Croatian ones, viewing it as more reliable in terms of content, more comprehensive and more related to practice. The Berlin Model had mean values (each sub-scale) above 3.5, it was thus overall evaluated the best. The highest values were recorded in the sub-scale of presentation (M=3.97), to be followed by the sub-scales of comprehensiveness (M=3.79) and content (M=3.70). The lowest value was reported in the sub-scale of relatedness to practice (M=3.57), which can be interpreted as the weakest point of the model according to the participants in this study, although the evaluation was high. Taking into account its high values noticed in each sub-scale, we can conclude that this model of planning was experienced by the participants as completely usable, i.e. well-presented, comprehensive, reliable in terms of content, and related to practice. Very similar results for the Berlin Model were obtained in the preliminary study (Ćatić, 2016), so we can conclude that it was seen by the Croatian participants as completely usable, i.e. reliable in terms of content, well-presented, comprehensive and related to practice. In the German studies (Zierer & Wernke, 2013; Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015) the Berlin Model was not ranked so high although the evaluation was also positive in them. The Hamburg Model, compared to the previous ones, showed the lowest mean values in each sub-scale and overall. Two sub-scales recorded negative evaluation: presentation (M=2.84) and comprehensiveness (M=2.98), so we can conclude that the participants experienced the Hamburg Model as badly-presented and incomprehensible. The sub-scale of relatedness to practice was evaluated as neutral (M=3.01), while the sub-scale of content was positively evaluated (M=3.20) and, thus, presents the strongest point of the given model. Considering two negatively evaluated sub-scales, one neutral sub-scale, and the highest value without exceeding M=3.20, we can conclude that this was the only model that could be overall labelled as non-usable according to our participants, which can be then supported by the results obtained in the preliminary study (Ćatić, 2016). Even in the German studies (Zierer & Wernke, 2013; Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015) the Hamburg Model was evaluated the lowest in comparison with the others, so we can conclude that both the Croatian and German participants had a unison opinion about its usability; this is the only model they viewed as unusable. Our results may lead to the conclusion that the second hypothesis, according to which didactic models are not usable (H2), has been confirmed only for the Hamburg Model, which was negatively evaluated in two sub-scales and had the lowest values in each sub-scale in comparison with the two models. The Perspective Schemas Model and the Berlin Model were overall positively evaluated, with the Berlin Model being the most usable due to all the values above 3.5. The Perspective Schemas Model was a bit more moderately evaluated although positively. Therefore, we can conclude that, generally speaking, the non-usability of didactic models has not been empirically confirmed in this study. When we compare all the evaluations of didactic models, we can notice that the entire Berlin Model was evaluated the best, with each mean value above 3.5. The best evaluations were recorded in all the four sub-scales. Its strongest point referred to presentation (M=3.97), while its weakest points referred to relatedness to practice (M=3.68). It was followed by the Perspective Schemas Model with slightly worse evaluation although its overall evaluation was positive. Its strongest point referred to content (M=3.49), while the weakest one to comprehensiveness (M=3.22). The lowest values here were recorded in the Hamburg Model. Each sub-scale had the lowest values, while two sub-scales had negative evaluations. Its strongest point was content (M=3.20); it should be noted that even this value was the lowest when compared to the same sub-scale in the other didactic models, and its weakest point was presentation (M=2.84). If we consider the comparative results obtained in the preliminary model (Ćatić, 2016) in which the Berlin Model was definitely evaluated the best, followed by the Perspective Schemas Model with slightly lower ranking although overall positive and the Hamburg Model being seen as non-usable, we can make a conclusion that the results were confirmed in this study despite minor differences in the evaluations of some sub-scales. Compared to the German results (Zierer, Wernke, 2013; Wernke, Werner, Zierer, 2015) in which the Perspective Schemas Model was evaluated as the most usable, then the Berlin Model, and the Hamburg Model (the lowest values), we can conclude that the Croatian participants evaluated the Berlin Model the best, then the Perspective Schemas Model, while the German participants evaluated the Perspective Schemas Model the best and then the Berlin Model. The Hamburg Model was ranked the lowest by both the Croatian and German participants. Considering the results obtained here, we can conclude that the third hypothesis, according to which there are no differences between didactic models in terms of their usability (H3), has not been confirmed – the differences in evaluating the categories of usability of didactic models were statistically significant. In order to determine whether the participants, according to how long they had been teaching, showed different results across the sub-scales, i.e. categories of the usability of models, one-way analyses of variance and t-tests for independent groups were conducted. The participants were grouped according to their working experience in two manners. Firstly, they were put in three categories – students, younger teachers (up to 15 years of teaching experience) and older teachers (16 years of teaching experience and above). Secondly, they were divided into two sub-groups – students and teachers. The evaluation results showed that there was no statistically significant difference regarding the model evaluations, which may lead to the conclusion that in the Croatian sample the working experience was not related to the evaluated usability of didactic models, whereas the German qualitative study (Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015) showed that most of the differences in the evaluations across the participating sub-groups were statistically significant, which may lead to the conclusion that in the German research the length of working experience was related to the evaluated usability of models. Based on our results regarding the correlation between the evaluated usability of models and the participants’ working experience, the conclusion is that the fourth hypothesis, according to which the participants’ working experience is not related to their evaluations concerning the usability of models (H4), has been confirmed. It is needed to point out certain methodological limitations when it comes to the empirical research. First, we will mention potential limitations common to the studies in the German-speaking countries (Zierer i Wernke, 2013; Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015), as well as to the preliminary study (Ćatić, 2016) conducted on the Croatian sample. We will also make suggestions for further research as stemmed from the mentioned limitations. Then, we will consider some limitations specific for our research design and its possible comparisons with the previous studies, as well as suggestions for further research as resulted from these limitations. Similar to the two previous German studies and the preliminary study with the Croatian sample, the didactic models were not tested in their real use, but the participants were asked to think and try to plan any lesson and then to subjectively evaluate the usability of didactic models. The study of this type should be surely supplemented by a follow-up analysis of lesson plans the participants wrote using the didactic models and evaluating the quality of teaching based on the use of didactic planning models; in this way the subjective usability evaluation would be expanded by the objective quality evaluation including the written lesson plans and teaching, which remains for further research into didactic models (Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015). In addition, didactic theories, when testing, were reduced to graphical presentations (and concise clarifications), which results in reduction. This is actually a common problem for the discourse of general didactics since the knowledge of students, school teachers and even university teachers often comes from abridged presentations in general surveys, while elaborate original resources by the authors of didactic models are hardly ever read by anyone (Wernke, Werner & Zierer, 2015). The following argument deals with the specific design of our study, i.e. a methodological move away from the previous research, which is a potential limitation when it comes to the comparison of their results. What makes this study different from the German studies is a textual explanation that accompanies an original illustration of each model. Our decision to include short textual explanations can be supported by our opinion according to which only a graph (an original illustration by the author of theoretical model) is not enough to the participants to understand a model more thoroughly since these models are just partially or hardly presented in Croatian didactics textbooks (also in syllabi) for university students (Ćatić, 2016), so they were almost completely unknown to our participants (both students and teachers). Here we are again back to differences in the initial education between the Croatian and German teachers, which – as we assume – is also the basic reason why the Croatian and German researchers obtained different results when researched the usability of didactic models. This refers not only to their differences in preferable models, but also to their significant differences in model evaluations in terms of the participants’ working experience (confirmed by the German participants, but not confirmed by the Croatian participants). For the purpose of clarifying the factors of teachers’ initial education as a potential reason why the Croatian and German participants evaluated the models differently, the factors influencing the Croatian didactic tradition should be determined. We know that Croatia has been generally influenced by different education traditions, from the German and Soviet traditions to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of curriculum and instruction; their impacts should be defined in order to better understand the reasons that led to the differences above, which requires a special scientific expertise and also represents a recommendation for further research. One of the ideas for such research is to determine the elements of different education traditions in Croatian didactics textbooks for university students from the historical perspective. This would not only enable us to get the answers to the question why the didactic models were differently evaluated by the Croatian and German participants, but efforts towards a better awareness of impacts referring to the existing traditions (primarily the European didactic tradition and the Anglo-Saxon tradition of curriculum and instruction in the context of the current global and reform changes marked by the curriculum that is oriented to the development of competences) would also open a path to the recognition and nurture of our own education tradition, which is a very sophisticated and demanding task since foreign influences are seen as very complex and contradictory. Namely, countries with influences stemming from different traditions are somewhat autonomous with regard to dominant cultures, and this is definitely what enables them to become aware of potential advantages and disadvantages and to see them as these may be neglected by the true successors of the two traditions (Mikser, 2005). If we consider the results of pedagogical-didactic reflection on the standardisation of education along with the results of empirical research into the usability of didactic models in the context of challenges in didactics regarding the standardisation of education and the closely related discussion on identity and scientific status of didactics as well as possible directions of the development of didactics in the future, we can conclude that they support each other. Based on the theoretical analysis of relevant pedagogical resources, we concluded that the models promoted by the current education reforms (education standards and empirical research into teaching) cannot replace general didactics, which indicates that the requirement for a radical empirical shift in didactics is not sound; the same can be said about a suggestion according to which education standards should be the successors of general didactics. Besides, starting from the empirical study, we concluded that didactic models were not generally unusable, they were different according to their usability, and the participants’ working experience was not related to how they evaluated the usability of models. These results support the argumentation (Zierer, Wernke, 2013; Ćatić, 2016; Wernke, Werner, Zierer, 2015) that questions the prevailing opinion in contemporary publications according to which didactic models are not close to practice and are not usable. Thus, we discarded one of the arguments on which, within the discussion on identity and scientific status of general didactics and its future, the requirement for empirical turnpoint is based and the successors of general didactics are suggested. In compliance with the conclusion resulted from the considerations on the relationship between the two dominant traditions of education, we think that in the future didactics should be open to theories and approaches originated from other education traditions and disciplines, without neglecting its own identity and development of original didactic insights. In this way, apart from raising its scientific level and status, didactics would again become responsible for the issues of teaching within education reform; in other words, it would be an equal counterpart with the educationally and politically conducted reforms (Palekčić, 2012).

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: general didactics, European tradition of didactics, Anglo-Saxon tradition of curriculum and instruction, global reform process regarding education standardisation, education standards, empirical research into teaching, didactic models of lesson planning, usability of didactic models of lesson planning
Subjects: Pedagogija
Departments: Department of Pedagogy
Supervisor: Palekčić, Marko
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2017 07:26
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2017 07:26
URI: http://darhiv.ffzg.unizg.hr/id/eprint/8565

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