Joint doctoral
curriculum for
teacher education
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EDiTE Research programme


The EDiTE Research programme provide information to future EDiTE doctoral candidates regarding the topics developed under EDiTE doctoral programme. A description of the main themes and topics is provided, the objetives, requirements and expected results are also described.

List of research projects

The following descriptions give an overview about the individual research project proposed for the implementation of the joint doctoral programme.

Project title: Learning as experience – a phenomenological approach to classroom research

Lead: University of Innsbruck

Objectives: Based on his synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to student achievement, Hattie3 argues that the question of effective teaching cannot be answered without attending to the experience of learning from the perspective of educational processes and suggests: if “the teacher’s lens can be changed to seeing learning through the eyes of students, this would be an excellent beginning” (2008, p. 252). Rather than focusing on the results of learning (as is the case in most assessment regimes around the world), the research objectives in this approach call for a reappraisal of the relation between teaching and learning. In the research work a phenomenologically oriented approach to learning research will be conducted in order to focus rigorously on the learning experience itself, with primary interest in learning in its nascent state. Understanding learning as experience (Meyer-Drawe4) rather than learning as a product out of experience, it becomes evident that learning and teaching processes are irrevocably intertwined and codetermining. The challenge for researchers will be how to capture possible learning experiences while in the field. “Vignettes” will be used to capture in words the researcher’s experience of the experience of others5 in form of “thick descriptions” revealing the pathic qualities of tangible moments in the field – like snapshots of learning. This individual process and the genesis of a vignette are documented and become part of the data.

Expected Results: Based on the underlying this phenomenological approach the results of comparative classroom research will bring answers to the following research questions (in 3 dissertations and 2 publications/conference papers per doctoral student):

  • What is learning? To what extent are dominant notions of learning adequate for researching learning, measuring school effectiveness and supporting instructional improvement?

  • If teaching and learning do not stand in a direct causal relationship and learning is to some degree beyond the reach of teaching, what does this mean for exploring the dynamics of teaching and learning? For school development? For teacher education?

  • How can the essence of experiences as they occur be effectively captured by a researcher? What are the limits of objectivity in research practice?

  • What impact can qualitative research into learning have on policy and school improvement?

The expected research results will not only inform policy and practice in teaching and learning, but also enhance teacher education on the pre- and in-service levels. Moreover, vignettes will offer an innovative evaluation tool both for external evaluation and assessment of innovation as well as for internal self-evaluation on the part of the teacher.

Project title: From teacher’s effectiveness to the teaching effectiveness – a reflexive international comparison approach

Lead: University of Bucharest

Objectives: Analyse form a cross-national perspective the different theoretical and practical approaches of teacher ‘effectiveness and teaching effectiveness; describe the strategies used in teacher education practice to enhance the teaching effectiveness; compare different perspectives about the teaching professional identity and development; reflect upon the role of the research-based teaching and learning in teacher education; analyse the influence of the transfer of research results on the teaching and learning process; analyse the impact of the transfer of teacher’ training6.

Expected Results: 3 PhD theses on the sub-themes; at least 9 scientific papers derived from the PhD theses. The following sub-themes are proposed: Becoming an effective teacher – a cross-national perspectives about the teaching profession, Teachers as researchers – the research use and transfer at teaching practice; The gap between the research-based education and research-based practice in teaching; Strategies to improve the teachers’ effectiveness in education – a cross-national approach; The transfer of teachers’ training competencies into the classrooms; Changing teaching and learning cultures in education – European trends of exploring the “deep learning”; at least 3 conference papers at international and peer-reviewed conferences.

Project title: Communities of practice to empower teacher change7

Lead: University of Lisbon

Objectives: Several authors have argued the need for reinforcing strategies of sharing and cooperation in the teaching profession, recognizing and valuing the collective dimension8. In this context, communities of practice, communities of learning, or learning communities have emerged as a school and teacher centred strategy to empower and promote teacher ownership for their own professional development, transforming practice into professional knowledge. The objective of this project is to establish multiple communities centred in a variety of contexts and problems from a cross-country comparative and cumulative analysis perspective. A mixed methods approach is suggested including qualitative case studies but also a more encompassing quantitative approach comparing the development of different communities in a variety of contexts from different countries.

Expected Results: We expect not only to support the sustainability of existing Communities of Practice (CoPs) but also to promote the development of new CoPs in areas considered relevant for the problems diagnosed with the participating teachers for their school based practice. These efforts should become visible with the production of reports emerging from each CoP produced by the participating doctoral students under supervision but also to at least one international and one national publication for each CoP. Moreover, doctoral students supporting similar CoPs will also be responsible, under supervision, for comparative analysis that should also provide the content for international reports, publications and conferences. Finally, there will also be an overarching line of research for the cumulative and comparative analysis of all the studied CoPs producing a quantitative comparison of the different factors impacting CoPs. This research approach should also give rise to papers presented at international conferences and publications promoting the discussion and dissemination of CoPs as strategies to support teacher change and professional development.

Project title: 1) Changing School Cultures: Ethnographic Studies of Transforming Institutions (Cross-cultural Ethnographic Study); 2) Teachers' Agency in the World of Educational Accountability (Comparative Study); 3) Emancipatory Possibilities of Teaching Profession and Practice (Theoretical Study)

Lead: University of Lower Silesia

Objectives: 1) The goal of this project is to conduct in-depth comparative ethnographic studies of European schools, which are undergoing intense processes of institutional transformation due to both economic and policy-level changes affecting educational systems. Our methodological approach to school studies is based on the fundamental paradigm of educational anthropology9 that treats the schooling process as a "cultural production of an educated person". 10 This doctoral project is going to be based on long-term ethnographic studies of schools and is going to present a "thick description"11 of school cultures, illuminating micro-level effects of large-scale European-wide changes.

2) This project is a mix-method study of strategies, methodologies and practices that teachers develop to nurture their own and their students' agency in the context of increasing systems of educational accountability.12 The project will be comparative: both its quantitative and qualitative component will be conducted in two different countries. It will include the application of questionnaires as well as qualitative methods primarily based on interviewing of teachers and participant observation of selected cases.

3) The goal of this theoretical project is to develop a complex understanding of the emancipatory dimension of teaching profession and teaching practices. This project is going to be based on in-depth studies of conceptual approaches to social criticism based on researchers' engagement contrasted with abstract concepts of communication and understanding.13 Students' research is going to focus on analysing primary and secondary material and in addition to the analysis of theoretical approaches; it will include a strong cross-cultural perspective, encouraging students to include research results from different countries.14

Expected Results: The three dissertations projects will be based on comparative empirical studies (1 and 2) and theoretical research (3) and bring answers to the following research questions (in 3 dissertations and 6 publications and 6 conference papers):

  • How are the current Europe-wide changes in the educational systems affecting the dynamics of school cultures? How do the processes of global economic and social change play out in the micro-settings of schools, especially with respect to the changing nature of the teacher profession and professionalism?

  • What strategies do teachers in different cultural and national settings adopt to deal with changing systems of professional competencies in the transforming school environment? How are teachers involved in the redefinitions of teacher professionalisms? What alliances and networks are they building in the process?

  • How can be analyse the methodologies of teacher agency developing in this process of transformation? How can research on teacher education and teaching profession enrich contemporary social theory?

Through feedback sessions and consultations with teachers throughout the project period, this research is expected to generate practice-relevant ideas on teaching in different cultures under systemic change. Through articles and final policy recommendations, the projects are expected to inform teacher education as well as teaching and learning policy and practice. Research on teacher agency is expected to inform the larger field of social theory focused on the contemporary democratic cultures.

Project titles: 1) Teacher learning in schools as innovative learning environments, in the context of curriculum reforms and educational development interventions; 2) Educating the reflective professional in teacher education; professional learning in the teaching and other professions; 3) The evolution of teacher education programs in different countries with a special focus on the role of practicum in developing teacher competences in teacher education programs; 4) Teachers teaching teachers: horizontal learning and knowledge transfer in educational support services and teacher professional networks 15

Lead: Eötvös Loránd University

Objectives: A cross-country and cross-sectoral comparative analysis on four topics related to the theory-practice nexus; doctoral students will be offered the projects according to their research interests

1) The aim of this project is to present teacher learning in schools as innovative learning environments, in the context of curriculum reforms and educational development interventions by a cross-country comparative analysis based on a research comprised of theoretical and empirical elements. It is expected that an empirical study in schools will form a part of this research project.

2) The aim of this project is to present the education of the reflective professional in teacher education and to compare professional learning in the teaching and other professions by a cross-country comparative analysis based on a research comprised of theoretical and empirical elements. It is expected that a cross-sectoral empirical study is provided here primarily by studying higher education institutions’ and non-higher education institutions’ practices e.g. in the health or in the engineering sector.

3) The aim of this project is to present the evolution of teacher education programs in different countries (preferably in the five beneficiary countries) with a special focus on the role of practicum in developing teacher competences in teacher education by a cross-country comparative analysis based on a research comprised of theoretical and empirical elements. It is expected that an empirical study in higher education institutions including e.g. interviews with teachers, students, programme coordinators will form a part of this research project.

4) The aim of this project is to present how educational support services and teacher professional networks provide the possibility for teachers to learn from each other by a cross-country comparative analysis based on a research comprised of theoretical and empirical elements. It is expected that an empirical study among educational support services, teacher professional networks and schools will form a part of this research project

Expected Results: It is expected that this research results in a doctoral dissertation per doctoral student and creates new knowledge on the examined area. The results shall be presented in a peer-reviewed international journal, shall be presented for the EDiTE community and shall be presented in national and international conferences. It is expected that doctoral students feed their work on their research and the results of this work into their teaching practice. The knowledge produced by this research shall be channelled back to EDiTE programme.

Research profile analysis

Proposal for the research profile of the European Doctorate in Teacher Education programme.
The purpose of the document is to make a proposal for the EDiTE research program based on the data collected from the five participating universities. The main goal of the analyses is to define a common research base for the participant institutions built on their existing or planned projects. Download
Author: Krisztián Pálvölgyi (Eötvös Loránd University, PhD student)

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3 Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning. A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.

4 Meyer-Drawe, K. (2008). Diskurse des Lernens. Munich: Fink.

5 Schratz, M., Schwarz, J., & Westfall-Greiter, T. (2012). Lernen als bildende Erfahrung. Vignetten in der Praxisforschung. Innsbruck: StudienVerlag.

6 See for example: McAlpine, L., & Weston, C. (2000). Reflection: Issues related to improving professors’ teaching and students’ learning. Instructional Science, 28, 363-385.; Hemsley-Brown, J. and C. Sharp. 2003. “The use of research to improve professional practice: a systematic review of the literature”, Oxford Review of Education 29(4): 449–70.; Ion, G and R. Iucu (in press) Professionals’ perceptions about the use of research in educationalPractice. European Journal of Higher Education.

7 Horsley, D., Loucks-Horsley, S. (1998). CBAM Brings Order to the Tornado of Change. Journal of Staff Development. 19, 17-20

8 Avalos, B. (2011). Teacher professional development in teaching and teacher education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 10-20.; Nóvoa, A. (2007). Formação de professores e qualidade de ensino. Revista aprendizagem – a revista da prática pedagógica, 1 (2), 33-45.; Vescio, V., Ross, D., & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 80-91.

9 Spindler, G. (1997). Education and Cultural Process: Anthropological Approaches, Waveland Press.

10 Foley, D., Holland, D., Levinson, B. (Eds.) (1996). Cultural Production of the Educated Person: Critical Ethnographies of Schooling and Local Practice. SUNY Press.

11 Geertz, C. (1977). Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books.

12 Lipman, P. (2003). High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform. Routledge.

13 Walzer, M. (1994). Thick & Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad. University of Notre Dame Press.; Gordon, C. (Ed.) (1980). Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, by Michael Foucault. Vintage Press.

14 Levinson, B. (2011). Beyond Critique: Exploring Critical Social Theories and Education. Paradigm Publishers.

15 Schön, Donald A. (1983). The reflective practitioner - how professionals think in action. Basic Books, 1983; Bullock, S. M. (2011). The development of teacher professional knowledge. In: Bullock, S. M.: Inside teacher education: Challenging prior views about teaching and learning. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 21-38; Vermunt, J. D. & Endedijk, M. D. (2011). Patterns in teacher learning in different phases of the professional career, Learning and Individual Differences 21 2011, 294- 302