Scholarly article on topic 'Is There a Set of Nucleus-values Characteristic of Teachers from Middle Education?'

Is There a Set of Nucleus-values Characteristic of Teachers from Middle Education? Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu

Abstract The identification and analysis of the values on which teachers found their teaching process is an aspect of utmost relevance in a society like the Romanian one, affected by a global, system, as well as moral crisis. It is essential to know: Do teachers still believe in values? If yes, what values do they treasure? What is the hierarchy of the values mentioned? What do they implicitly transfer to students from the compulsory elementary education, given the model hypostasis implied by their teacher career? The aim of this study is to highlight the existence of a set of values characteristic of the axiological profile of teachers from middle education. The main method we have used was the questionnaire-based inquiry. We investigated a group of 150 teachers, from the urban and rural environments. The questionnaire consists of 8 open-ended items. The results of the study shall enable us to identify the axiological profile of this category of teachers. Based on this, we intent to highlight a series of suggestions for improving the processes of initial and continuous training for the teaching career.

Academic research paper on topic "Is There a Set of Nucleus-values Characteristic of Teachers from Middle Education?"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 203 (2015) 84 - 89

International Conference EDUCATION AND PSYCHOLOGY CHALLENGES - TEACHERS FOR THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY - 3RD EDITION, EPC-TKS 2015

Is there a set of nucleus-values characteristic of teachers from

middle education?

Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu*

"Vasile Alecsandri" University of Bacäu, Pre- and In-Service Teacher Training Department, Märä§e§ti Street no. 157, Bacäu, 600115,

Romania

Abstract

The identification and analysis of the values on which teachers found their teaching process is an aspect of utmost relevance in a society like the Romanian one, affected by a global, system, as well as moral crisis. It is essential to know: Do teachers still believe in values? If yes, what values do they treasure? What is the hierarchy of the values mentioned? What do they implicitly transfer to students from the compulsory elementary education, given the model hypostasis implied by their teacher career? The aim of this study is to highlight the existence of a set of values characteristic of the axiological profile of teachers from middle education. The main method we have used was the questionnaire-based inquiry. We investigated a group of 150 teachers, from the urban and rural environments. The questionnaire consists of 8 open-ended items. The results of the study shall enable us to identify the axiological profile of this category of teachers. Based on this, we intent to highlight a series of suggestions for improving the processes of initial and continuous training for the teaching career.

©2015TheAuthors.Publishedby Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of EPC-TKS 2015. Keywords:va\ues, teachers from middle education, the axiological profileof teachers

1. Teachers, values and values pedagogy

The teaching process is, unfortunately, yet understood and sometimes conducted like a technical activity, where a set of methodological tools is applied in order to assimilate the contents of learning. Within this reductionist and mechanistic view, the unseen but essential axiological foundation is unheeded by teachers themselves. The effective

* Corresponding author. Tel.:+4-074-706-6462 E-mail address:venera_1962@yahoo.com

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Scientific Committee of EPC-TKS 2015. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.08.263

process of education as an act of enculturation is diminished and values are more or less forgotten. In this way, the educational process is about to lose its "heart and soul" (Gulati&Pant, 2008).Although there is no doubt that values are inherent to education or the general relation through which values determine behaviour, there are yet insufficient empirical studies (Taylor, 2000) that may support it, on the different levels of the functioning of educational systems. This is one of the serious reasons for which systematic research and programmes have began to be developed invalues pedagogy. This aims at identifying and building connections "between values education and good practice pedagogy and propose a set of guidelines based on these links" (Lovat, Dally, Clement& Toomey, 2011, p. 6). Specialized studies conducted in an increasingly systematic manner in the recent 25 years (particularly in UK and USA) on this topic have surprisingly found that there are not many clues indicating that the educational process would try to adapt to this obvious fact. Relevant aspects are being ignored, for example: 1. Insufficient knowledge of how teachers understand and interpret their own values or are aware of the common values that the school community relies on. There is a lack of empirical studies on the values in which teachers believe, especially for middle education(Sunley&Locke, 2010).Precisely because there is no axiological neutrality in the classroom (Etherington, 2013), the values proposed by teachers should be identified and analysed; 2. Building personality is a holistic and interdisciplinary process, in which reason and emotion should be balanced (Lovat & all, 2011) by all existing means: curriculum, teachers' conduct, the teaching strategies used, by impregnating the entire verbal, nonverbal and para-verbal educational environment. Increasingly clearer and relevant signals from the education sciences show that additional attention is due to values in the teaching process as well as generally, in school (Harecker, 2012); 3.The increasing width of the moral dimension of the teaching process through which teachers simultaneously perform a double action: a. express their own values and support students in their effort of building their own values and norms. Based on the (implicitly or explicitly) values proposed by teachers, students will gradually turn to practicing the processes of clarifying values and valuation; b. analyse their own values and the values' impact upon their students (Silay, 2013).Studies show that there are few attempts in which teachers are engaged in meta-reflection and dialogue regarding the values that guide their activity (Sunley & Locke, 2010). In this respect, we should not ignore the fact that education as enculturation contributes to harmonizing personal and social interests, making the emotional compatible with the relational from a holistic perspective (Gulati & Pant, 2008).

Therefore, studies aimed at identifying the values treasured by teachers, acknowledging and exploiting them pedagogically may be efficient for educational policies and the very formative processes. For the reflexive teacher-practitioner, this dimension is a new challenge that will increasingly imply, in the future, the reconsideration of certain coordinates of the initial/ continuous teacher training process and the actual teaching process (Taylor, 2000; Values Education Study, 2003; Mergler, 2008).

2. Essential aspects of the research methodology

The proposed study is part of a transversal analysis aimed at identifying the defining values of the axiological profile of the Romanian teacher. The topic was initiated and undertaken by us in 2012.The first 3 analyses referred to the axiological universe of university teachers. Subsequently, we shifted our attention to pre-university teachers. At this level, we conducted 2 studies investigating, separately, the values representative for pre-school teachers (Cojocariu&Albu, 2014), respectively, primary school teachers (Cojocariu, 2014). In our present study, we wish to expand our research to the values characteristic of teachers from middle education.

The qualitative research was conducted during the2013-2014 academic year, on a sample of 150 middle-schoolteachers. The research aim: identifying, analysing and comparing the values supporting and orienting the middle-school teaching process. The general research hypothesis: Is there a defining set of values for middle-school teachers guiding their professional activity? The specific hypothesis: Is there a common set of values shared by preschool, primary and middle school teachers? The data collection tool was a questionnaire with8 open-ended items. For the items that required a hierarchization of the respondents' options, the score of each value was established as follows: 3 points for the value situated on the first position, 2 points for the value from the second position, 1 point for the value situated on the third position.The syntagm teachers' values was used in our study to refer to general values, purpose-values, namely what teachers cherish, regard as worthy, relevant, desirable at a higher level.

The way in which the correlation between the research objectives and the questionnaire items is expressed is as follows: 01-Identifying the first three values guiding the activity of middle-school teachers (items 1,4,5,8); 02-Identifying a central value for the activity of middle-school teachers(items 2,3,7). These objectives are complemented by the following: 03-Structuring a feasible model of the axiological profile of middle-school teachers; O4-The comparative analysis of 3 axiological profiles: pre-school, primary and middle-school teachers; 05- Establishing the degree of similitude between the three axiological profiles.

3. Findings

The data collected afforded 8 sets of data, corresponding to the questionnaire items. They will be systematized, analyzed and presented in agreement with the research objectives.

In order to achieve 01, the subjects had to answer the following items: I1 The first three values in which I mostly believe are...; I4 I believe that nowadays, the most dangerous counter-values are...; I5 I believe that the fundamental values which pre-university education should inculcate to students nowadays are...; I8 The future society needs the following three values... Table 1 is a systematized representation of the collected data:

Table 1. Centralized presentation of the data obtained from the perspective of achieving objective 1

Item no. Values rank I/points Values rank II/points Values rank III/points

1. fair play- 94p professionalism - 63p respect- 59p

4. deceit - 99p superficiality - 45p false models - 43p

(truth) (.......) (.......)

5. respect -90p work- 75p education - 58p

8. respect - 77p work - 74p honesty- 50p

respect - 167p work- 149p respect- 59p

education- 58p

The analysis of the data from Table 1shows that: 1. According to 01, we have succeeded in identifying three values, which guide the activity of middle-school teachers: respect, work and education; 2. There is a huge difference between the score of the first value, respect (226p), and the following two values (work, 149p., education, 58p.) that accumulate, together, 19 p. Less than the score of the first value; 3. The first value is fully relevant, because it was asserted as a 1st rank value (167p.) as well as a 3rd rank value (59p.), which led to a very high score for the whole set of the respondents' options; 4. We appreciate as interesting the belonging of the 3 identified values, respect as moral value, and work and education as action-values. 4. The 2nd and 3r rank values are closely interconnected, expressing respect for work and, in particular, respect for the educational activity, a process with a formative role in the evolution of human personality. The highlighted values are relevant for the contemporary role and status of every teacher, especially of those from middle school, with special tasks for pre-adolescence.

To achieve 02, the subjects answered the following items: I2 In relation to my work, the value which concerns me most is... ; I3 I believe that the most important value for a teacher's activity is... ; I7 I believe that the value which will always preserve (save) humankind is.... Table 2 shows the systematized data:

Table 2. Centralized presentation of the data obtained from the perspective of achieving objective 2

Item no. Values rank I/points Values rank II/points Values rank III/points

2. professionalism - 25 options fair play - 15 options responsibility- 12 options

3. professionalism - 25 options fair play- 11 options love for people- 10

options

7. faith in God - 15 options respect - 12 options work - 9 options

love for people - 9 options

professionalism - 50 options fair play- 26 options love for people- 19 options

professionalism - 50 options (33.33%)

The analysis of the data from Table 2 shows that:

1. According to O2, we have managed to identify a central value for the activity of middle-school teachers;

2. This value is professionalism, cumulating 33.33% of the respondents' options, respectively a third from the questioned sample;

3. This value is in agreement with the values obtained from the perspective of O1 (respect, work, education);

4. The value of professionalism becomes the nucleus of the axiological profile of the middle-school teacher;

5. For item 7, the percentage is relatively similar in terms of non-answers (for the group of primary school teachers, 11% of the questioned sample (Cojocariu, 2014); for middle-school teachers, the percentage is slightly higher, 14.66%). The data may indicate, as for primary-school teachers, either the difficulty of the issue, or the lack of reflection regarding this topic. Other suggestions, which obtained few percentages of representativeness for this item, were: good, 4.66%; education, 4%; honesty, 3.33%; tolerance, 3.33%. From the values with only one answer (0.66%), we shall highlight those we appreciate as interesting: patriotism, wisdom, balance, humanism, beauty. We may notice a certain heterogeneity of answers. As shown in one of our previous studies (Cojocariu, 2014) they are yet proof that the domain of the axiology of education is difficult in itself and primary and middle-school teachers, although properly trained and experienced, have had neither the necessary time nor the motivation for a conceptual and action clarification from this perspective.

For item 6 - If tomorrow were my last meeting with the students, I would address them, as a final message, the idea....we shall further present the systematization of the obtained data. The value directions indicated by the messages of middle-school teachers are the following:

• learning - 28 (18.66%) of the messages contain the word 'learn'. Of these, half (14 options, 9.33%) support the need and usefulness of learning, suggestively expressed by the urge Learn, learn and learn again! These also include messages that turn school learning into personal development lines, such as: Learn to become better! The good only comes by learning! Nature likens us, education distinguishes us, so go to school and learn to become better! Only through culture and learning we can overcome ourselves!;

• respect - 8 messages (5.33%) - Keep your respect for people ! Respect everything around you and try to do everything better and better! Respect your teachers and chose your models according to true values!

• man, humanism, humanity - 8 messages (5.33%) - Do not forget to be human! Do your best to become MEN! Being human is something huge. Learn to be human!

• fair play - 8 messages (5.33%) - Be fair in everything you do!

• self-confidence - 7 messages (4.66%)-Be self-confident! Believe in your dreams!;

• work and trust in the value of work- 7messages (4.66%)-Work with responsibility! Chose moral values and love for work! In life, nothing comes for free! Your dreams may come true through thorough work!;

• responsibility - 5 messages (3.33%) - Be responsible persons ! Assume the responsibilities you can achieve! Be responsible in everything you do!

• confidence in the value of learning - 4 messages (2.66%) - To know is to be strong!;

• divinity - 4 messages (2.66%) - Nihil sine Deo! Love people and God!

• Honesty - 3 messages (2%) -Be honest with yourselves because only in this way you will be credible in front of those around you! Do not be hypocritical!

• no answer: 2 (1.33%)

Analysing the teachers' messages as a whole, we see that although many of them are correlated with learning, other values are also mentioned: kindness, perseverance, seriousness, overcoming oneself, optimism, punctuality, self-knowledge, friendship, self-improvement, courage, which should be part of every person's moral profile.

In order to achieve O3, we have combined the synthesis data shown in Table 1 and Table 2, and represented the following model graphically in Figure 1:

Figure 1 - A model of the axiological profile of middle-school teachers

In order to achieve O4 and O5, we have compared the model of the pre-school teacher axiological profile with that of the primary-school teacher (presented by us in 2 similar studies and built on the basis of applying the same questionnaire to pre-school and primary-school teachers) (Cojocariu&Albu, 2014; Cojocariu, 2014) with the data obtained in this study. The systematized and comparatively presented data are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Comparative analysis of the anchor-values and central values characteristic of the axiological profile of pre-school,

primary-school and middle-school teachers

Rank Set of anchor-values,

axiological profile of the preschool teacher

Set of anchor-values, axiological profile of the primary-school teacher

Set of anchor-values, axiological profile of the middle-school teacher

respect - 120p work - 42 options

truth - 92p equity - 54 opDiuni

respect - 167p work - 149options

honesty - 34 p

faith in God - 41p

respect - 59p education - 58p

Central value

Central value

Central value

professionalism - 20 options

professionalism - 35 options

professionalism - 88.33%

professionalism - 50 options 33.33%

Based on the data from Table 3, we may conclude that: 1. There are differences and similarities between the sets of anchor-values of the 3 groups of teachers. On the one hand, the values held by primary-school teachers (truth, fair play, belief in God) are completely different both from those promoted by pre-school teachers (respect, work, honesty) and those characteristic of middle-school teachers (respect, work, education). On the other hand, the set of anchor-values of pre-school and middle-school teachers share 2 values (respect and work) and differ in 1 value (honesty and education); 2. Despite the differences between the anchor-values belonging to the three groups of teachers, it was possible to identify a central value shared by all the three axiological profiles, namely professionalism; 3. The extent to which the investigated teachers treasure professionalism is relatively different, 20% for pre-school teachers, 35% for primary-school teachers and 33.33% for middle-school teachers; 4. For the 350 teachers from the three investigated groups,professionalism is the central value shared by 105 teachers - 30%.

4. Conclusions and future lines

The interpretation and systematization of the data obtained enables the formulation of the following conclusions: 1. All the objectives have been reached: O1 - it was possible to identify at least three anchor-values guiding the activity of middle-school teachers (respect, work, education); O2 - it was possible to identify a central value in the

axiological profile of middle-school teachers, namely professionalism; 03 - it was possible to achieve a feasible model of the middle-school teacher axiological profile, shown in Figure 1; 04 - it was possible to apply the comparative analysis of the anchor-values and central values characteristic of the axiological profiles of pre-school, primary and middle-schoolteachers (Table 3); 05 - it was possible to establish the similarities and differences between the 3 axiological profiles, thus: the anchor-values are different, the central value is the same, professionalism.

2. The general hypothesis-Is there a defining set of values for middle-school teachers guiding their professional activity?-has been confirmed, with the values of respect, work, education articulated around professionalism.

3. The specific hypothesis -Is there a common set of values shared by the pre-school, primary-school and middle-school teachers? - has been invalidated. Although there are relevant similarities between 2 profiles out of the 3 (those of pre-school and middle-school teachers, with 2 shared values - respect, work), there is full dissimilarity between these two and the axiological profile of primary-school teachers (truth, fair play, faith in God). Despite the major differences in terms of the age of students from kindergarten and middle school, the differences in these students' age particularities and professional training paths of these categories of teachers, the similarities between their axiological profiles are relevant, including with regard to the percentage of the central value.

4. The axiological profile of middle-school teachers is solidly bound. The value of respect is positioned both as a 1st and 3rd rank value, work as a 2ndrank value, and education as a 3rdrank value, 1p.below the 3rd rank value. 0verall and cumulatively, it is practically respect - 226 p. and work (education) - 207p. That is coherently and constantly articulated around the central value, professionalism. Despite the large number of values mentioned in the answers to the questionnaire, there are values that are weakly represented or absent, for example solidarity, freedom, initiative, creativity, tolerance, empathy, civic involvement. Also, like in the case of the conclusions drawn for the group of primary-school teachers, economic and aesthetic values seem to be ignored.

5. 0ne of our previous conclusions has been reconfirmed: additional focus is necessary, both in initial and continuous training, on the axiological component of education. It is necessary to aim at ensuring a higher degree of awareness at teachers regarding the process of value clarification and achieve balance between the different categories of values and the best value transfer strategies of through the educational process (Cojocariu, 2014).

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