Visualizing Teacher Education as a Complex System: A Nested Simplex System Approach

  • Larry H Ludlow Boston College
  • Fiona Ell The University of Auckland
  • Marilyn Cochran-Smith Boston College
  • Avery Newton Boston College
  • Kaitlin Trefcer Boston College
  • Kelsey Klein Boston College
  • Lexie Grudnoff The University of Auckland
  • Mavis Haigh The University of Auckland
  • Mary F. Hill The University of Auckland

Abstract

Our purpose is to provide an exploratory statistical representation of initial teacher education as a complex system comprised of dynamic influential elements. More precisely, we reveal what the system looks like for differently-positioned teacher education stakeholders based on our framework for gathering, statistically analyzing, and graphically representing the results of a unique exercise wherein the participants literally mapped the system as they perceived it. Through an iterative series of inter-related studies employing cluster analysis and multidimensional scaling procedures, we demonstrate how initial teacher education may be represented as a complex system comprised of interactive agents and attributes whose perceived relationships are a function of nested stakeholder-dependent simplex systems. Furthermore, we illustrate how certain propositions of complexity theory, such as boundaries, heterogeneity, multidimensionality and emergence, may be investigated and represented quantitatively.

Author Biographies

Larry H Ludlow, Boston College

Larry Ludlow is Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, USA. He teaches courses in research methods, applied statistics, and psychometric theory and practice. His research interests include longitudinal models for faculty course evaluations, Rasch model instrument development applications, and teacher retention and attrition models. His consulting collaborations include the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Indian Education; Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University; St. Patrick’s College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland; and Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia.

Fiona Ell, The University of Auckland

Fiona Ell is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research interests include professional learning for teachers  and mathematics education, especially in pre-service teacher education. She has worked with schools as they try to improve outcomes for learners as well as with teacher candidates as they learn to be teachers who can make a difference for all students, particularly those who are marginalised. Recent publications include exploring complexity theory as a way to understand learning to teach and an examination of how mentor teachers judge teacher candidates’ readiness to teach. She is currently part of two research teams, one looking at the promotion of equity through initial teacher education and one looking at adaptive expertise in facilitation.

Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College
Marilyn Cochran-Smith is the Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools and Director of the Ph.D. Program in Curriculum and Instruction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. A teacher education scholar and practitioner for more than 30 years, Cochran-Smith is a frequent presenter nationally and internationally and is widely known for her work about teacher education research, practice and policy. Dr. Cochran-Smith has written nine books, five of which have won national awards and recognitions, and more than 200 articles, chapters, handbook chapters, and editorials on teacher education research, practice and policy, social justice, and practitioner research.
Avery Newton, Boston College

Avery Newton is a third year Doctoral student in the Department of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.  Her research centers on exploring the academic and affective correlates in the education-workforce transition.  She is primarily training as a quantitative methodologist, with additional interests in evaluation, policy, survey design and analysis, and large-scale data analysis.  

Kaitlin Trefcer, Boston College

Kaitlin Trefcer is a fourth grade teacher and graduate of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, USA. Kaitlin received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and pursued her master's degree in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation. Because of her experiences in both programs, Kaitlin recognizes the value of the connection between teaching in the classroom and educational research. Her research interests include teacher education programs, teacher evaluation and classroom assessment.   

Kelsey Klein, Boston College

Kelsey Klein is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Educational, Research, Measurement, and Evaluation in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, USA. She is currently finishing coursework and developing her dissertation proposal. Her research interests include instrument development, models for student success, and teacher evaluation models.

Lexie Grudnoff, The University of Auckland

Lexie Grudnoff is an Associate Professor of the School of Teaching, Learning and Professional Development in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. She teaches courses in practitioner research methods, mentoring and professional development and supervises postgraduate student research in areas related to initial teacher education and beginning teaching. Her research areas are broadly related to teacher professional learning and development, in particular developing understandings about how to enact practice that leads to more equitable learner outcomes and opportunities. 

Mavis Haigh, The University of Auckland

Mavis Haigh is an Associate Professor, School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research interests include professional/clinical practice in Initial Teacher Education, especially the role of partnership between the university and schools and early childhood centers; the work of teacher educators; and science teacher education. As a monitor for the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand she reviews initial teacher education programs across the country.

Mary F. Hill, The University of Auckland

Mary F. Hill is an Associate Professor, Deputy Head of School of Learning, Development and Professional Practice in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her work is grounded in the context of contemporary schooling and teacher education and the contribution that quality teaching makes to a socially just society. Her research interests include educational assessment, assessment education for pre and in-service teachers, practitioner inquiry and the use of complexity theory and critical realism as explanatory theory for rethinking teacher education for equity.

Published
2017-08-16
Section
Research Articles