Are there some questions that can’t be answered? The limits of research in teacher education
This year will see the publication of no fewer than four highprofile reports into different aspects of teacher education (BERARSA, UUK, IFS/Nuffield, DFE Carter Review). Clearly a lot of questions are being asked and a wide range of evidence is being marshalled, although each of them is limited in different ways by their particular terms of reference, and by the perceptions of institutional bias that might colour the ways in which they are interpreted. However, even if all such potential bias could be eliminated, there remain doubts about the capacity of even the highest quality research to answer the fundamental question driving any investigation into the effectiveness of teacher education – its impact on student outcomes.
Drawing on their paper commissioned for the BERARSA Inquiry into the role of research in teacher education, and on their previous longitudinal research into the nature of beginning teachers’ learning, Katharine Burn and Trevor Mutton will explore some of the reasons for this apparent impasse and consider the range of ways in which teacher education researchers and practitioners might respond.