September 2005
Volume 9, Number 2

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Empowering the Teacher-researcher: Adopting a Tool from Biochemist-Researcher Training

Y.L. Teresa Ting
The University of Calabria


As teachers are probably the most invaluable source of field-based informants regarding (in)effective classroom practices, teacher-training should equip teachers with tools for classroom-based teacher-led research. More importantly, these tools should sustain trainees' research-eagerness as well as autonomous professional development beyond teacher-training courses. However, if research is not the raison d'être of teaching and with educational evaluators criticising small-scale teacher-friendly research findings for their non-generalisablility, how can teacher-educators instil their trainees with the research spirit? Here, I suggest that teacher-trainers examine a simple tool used to train biochemistry graduate students towards autonomous scientific research: The extensive reading of journal articles. It is in fact the simplicity of this suggestion which makes it worthy of consideration. Quantitative data is used to demonstrate that educators and scientists rely on dimensionally different sources of knowledge, which may influence how trainees of these disciplines come to envision research do-ability. I share why article-reading during my graduate school biochemistry training helped us perceive research as something do-able, facilitating the information-gathering process, developing our ability to critically evaluate research findings. If the educational establishment wishes to delineate the "good education puzzle", teachers must acquire these skills and gain the research confidence necessary for disseminating small-scale but high quality research findings, thus making public their knowledge, beliefs and practice.

Keywords: EFL, ESL, Second Language Teacher Research, Classroom-based research, Teacher training, Social science training, Italy

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