Schools and teachers around the world are facing a growing diversity and increasing complexity (social inequality, labeling, …). In the past, pupils’ assignments to classrooms and schools have rather fostered segregation than encouraged inclusion. Today, we see a tendency towards more inclusive learning environments (cf. amongst others, the UN Convention of 2007, ratified by Belgium in 2009). However, this poses enormous challenges to the professional development of (pre-service) teachers and teams.
The main objective of the project ‘POTENTIAL’, Power to Teach All, is to develop the competences of (pre-service) teachers and school teams to create inclusive learning environments.
In the spectrum of competences to create inclusive learning environments, two major objectives are distinguished:
(A) appreciating and exploiting diversity in the classroom;
(B) realizing collaborative teaming in the school (including the school team, supporting actors & children) and between the school, the community and the parents.
The specific valorization objectives are to:
- provide an evidence-based framework of competences and good practices;
- develop instruments to monitor competences (based on videography and social network analysis (SNA));
- realize effective data-driven professional development (based on videography and SNA);
- involve colleagues, parents and pupils in the process of creating inclusive learning environments.
Valorization approach and strategy
The objectives of the project ‘POTENTIAL’ will be reached through an iterative process of developing, implementing and testing an appreciative, strength-based of competence development. This results in five final valorization products that each correspond to a specific valorization strategy of competence development to create inclusive learning environments.
These products will be implemented in the context of (1) elementary and lower secondary education and (2) teacher education institutions for pre-service teachers in elementary and lower secondary education.
The implementation of the products is integrated in a Professional Development Program, which is supervised by a valorization coordinator and executed by a variety of valorization facilitators according to the different experimental conditions (cf. Scientific approach).
The scientific objectives of the project ‘POTENTIAL’ are the following:
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE 1: Measure teacher competence to create inclusive learning environments
1.1. Develop monitoring instruments to assess the level of and inform the development of (pre-service) teachers’ and school teams’ competences to create inclusive learning environments.
1.2. Describe the current state of affairs regarding (pre-service) teachers’ and school teams’ competences to create inclusive learning environments.
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE 2: Establish effective teacher professional development to create inclusive learning environments
2.1 Measure the effectiveness of a professional development program (PDP) aimed at increasing (pre-service) teachers’ and school teams’ competences to create inclusive learning environments.
2.2. Document the process of professional development of (pre-service) teachers and school teams involved in a PDP and identify facilitating and obstructing conditions for the creation of inclusive learning environments.
The scientific project objectives of the project ‘POTENTIAL’ are immediately related to the specific valorization objectives. Even more, the scientific approach of the project ‘POTENTIAL’ is inherently connected to its valorization approach and strategy. In particular, the monitoring center and practice center within the professional development program (in which videography and social network analysis are central approaches) will not only be used as a means of competence development but also as a means of data collection.
The blueprint of the ‘POTENTIAL’ research consists of a Research Base and Multiple Case Studies. These will both be performed in two settings: primary and lower secondary education schools (in-service teachers), and primary and lower secondary teacher education programs (pre-service teachers).
The ‘POTENTIAL’ research approach is characterized by the following methodological features:
- argument- and use-based approach to develop reliable and valid monitoring instruments (a video-based assessment instrument and a social network analysis instrument);
- intersectionality approach to examine how different axes of diversity overlap, rather than investigating individual axes of diversity;
- quasi-experimental approach to assess the effectiveness of several varying conditions of teacher professional development (stage in teacher education continuum; internal and external facilitator);
- participatory action research approach to structure (pre-service) teachers’ inquiry during the professional development program;
- appreciative and strength-based approach to create a new mindset that focuses on possibilities rather than restrictions and to strengthen (pre-service) teachers’ sense of self-efficacy.