Scholarly article on topic 'The Competences of Educative Mentor, Fostering Change in the Early Childhood Education'

The Competences of Educative Mentor, Fostering Change in the Early Childhood Education Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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{Mentor / "pre-school education teacher" / "pedagogical practice" / "student ;"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Ona Monkeviciene, Birute Autukeviciene

Abstract Modern pre-school education together with the whole educational system face the period of constant changes, in which new needs of novices, universities and educational institutions arise. It is extremely important to train such pre-school teachers who can successfully get involved into children educational system and to contribute to faster changes of pre-school educational practice. Purpose of Study - to construct and empirically ground the competences of educative mentor, fostering change in the early childhood education. Methods. The survey of pre-school teacher mentors. Factorial analysis of mentor competences structural factors. Participants. 459 of early childhood education and pre-school teacher mentors working under the conditions of regular reforms and changes for more than a decade and monitoring the future pre-school education teachers have been surveyed. Mentoring is one of the most effective strategies of teacher training, which helps to achieve these aims. The article emphasises and describes the concept of traditional mentoring based on behaviouristic theories, educative mentoring based on constructivist theories and reform-based change fostering mentoring. Having done the factorial analysis of mentor competence structural factors in the mentor competence model consisting of 8 competences, the following essential mentor competences have arisen: personal, communicative; expert assessment and reflection, student practice and reflection.

Academic research paper on topic "The Competences of Educative Mentor, Fostering Change in the Early Childhood Education"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 197 (2015) 885 - 891

7th World Conference on Educational Sciences, (WCES-2015), 05-07 February 2015, Novotel

Athens Convention Center, Athens, Greece

The Competences of Educative Mentor, Fostering Change in the

Early Childhood Education

Ona Monkevicienea*, Birute Autukevicienea

aFaculty of Education, Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, Studentu St. 39, LT-08106 Vilnius, Lithuania

Abstract

Modern pre-school education together with the whole educational system face the period of constant changes, in which new needs of novices, universities and educational institutions arise. It is extremely important to train such pre-school teachers who can successfully get involved into children educational system and to contribute to faster changes of pre-school educational practice. Purpose of Study - to construct and empirically ground the competences of educative mentor, fostering change in the early childhood education. Methods. The survey of pre-school teacher mentors. Factorial analysis of mentor competences structural factors. Participants. 459 of early childhood education and pre-school teacher mentors working under the conditions of regular reforms and changes for more than a decade and monitoring the future pre-school education teachers have been surveyed. Mentoring is one of the most effective strategies of teacher training, which helps to achieve these aims. The article emphasises and describes the concept of traditional mentoring based on behaviouristic theories, educative mentoring based on constructivist theories and reform-based change fostering mentoring. Having done the factorial analysis of mentor competence structural factors in the mentor competence model consisting of 8 competences, the following essential mentor competences have arisen: personal, communicative; expert assessment and reflection, student practice and reflection. © 2015The Authors.Publishedby ElsevierLtd. 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 Academic World Education and Research Center. Keywords: Mentor, pre-school education teacher, pedagogical practice, student;

* Ona Monkeviciene. Tel.: +370-650-64131. E-mail address: ona.monkeviciene@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 Academic World Education and Research Center. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.07.268

1. Introduction

Modern pre-school education together with the whole educational system face the period of constant changes: from traditional didactic paradigm towards experience-based authentic education (Blandford, & Knowles, 2009), from teaching towards new learning paradigm oriented towards learning for all (Kalantzis, Cope, 2012), from teacher-oriented education towards education from a student's perspective (Sommer, Samuelsson, Hundeide, 2010), from the concept of narrow content containing only formal curriculum, towards a wide concept consisting of the processes of curriculum creation and implementation, learning input and outcomes, communicative meetings of all participants of educational process. (Male, 2012; Niculescu, 2010).Constant reflection upon personal experience and educational process is emphasized together with deinstitutionalization, deformalization (Pollard with Anderson, Swaffield, Swann, Warin, & Warwick, 2008). On the other hand, all the changes mentioned above are clearly conceptionalized, however, its practical realization is not sufficient yet.

Under the conditions of such great changes universities face the challenge to train pre-school teachers qualified effectively to get involved into children educational system and to contribute to faster changes in school educational practice, implementing valuable theoretical ideas into practice. Mentoring is one of the most effective strategies of training teachers.

Bradbury (2010), reviewing the concepts of mentoring and its historical change differentiates between the concepts of traditional mentoring and educative mentoring. According to him, in traditional mentoring, mentor's support to the novice is to help him "to survive" the first stage of professional work, to cope with its problems and to reduce the stress related to it. Emotional support and help "here and now" to deal with everyday problems, modelling of teacher's role and sharing educational means dominate here (Table 1). Educative mentoring is oriented not only towards "surviving" and solving everyday problems, but also maturing the novice's personality, his/her professional development, his/her career prospective. Therefore, apart from providing support "here and now", strategies of long-lasting personal and professional growth are developed which are grounded on bi-directional mentor-novice cooperation, regular reflection upon one's professional work. According to other authors, educative mentoring is protEgE-centric and development-oriented (Burke, McKenna, & McKeen, 1991; Chambersa, Armourb, Luttrella and others, 2012).

Other authors (Richter, Kunter, Ludtke, Klusmann, Anders, Baumert, 2013) relate traditional mentoring not only with the aim "to survive" or to seek long-lasting professional growth, but also with the teaching paradigm. They understand traditional mentoring as the process of passing the knowledge to the novice by mentor-expert. This process is unidirectional process in which learners are passive recipients of information. Such model of mentoring is called transmission-oriented mentoring.

The authors mentioned above relate educative mentoring with their knowledge construction; the novice in this case is actively involved into the community and work of educational institution; his/her relations with the mentor are bi-directional and equal. Such mentoring model is called constructivist-oriented mentoring.

Weinberg, Locander (2014) differentiate between two directions of educative mentoring. Mentoring relationships have the capacity to enhance personal growth and professional development at multiple career stages. Friendly, supportive, encouraging, grounded on sharing and transforming the leadership mentor's relations with the novice encourage constant professional development. Modelling of professional roles and work, pair work, regular reflection upon his/her professional work help the novice to develop a sense of professional identity, competence, and confidence. Successful mentoring creates the teaching culture which is beneficial both to personal and professional novice's growth. (Doan, 2013; Hudson, 2013).

In Bradbury (2010) work you can find the characteristics of mentoring which allow you to single out one more mentoring model - reform-based, change fostering mentoring. When a student or a novice starts his/her career, he/she aims not only to develop himself/herself as a personality, to acquire good professional skills, but also to change, to develop the practice of educating children. It is vital to implement educational reforms or innovative ideas into the practice, to foresee problems in children educational practice and to search for innovative solutions.

Students from universities and other educational institutions bring new theoretical approaches so the mentor not only teaches the student but also learns from him/her. In this case the mentor and the novice learn together and look for new ideas to develop teaching practice. The mentor becomes a mediator of change in teaching practice and helps

the novice to involve into the process of change and manage it. Concrete characteristics of this mentoring model are provided in Table 1.

Table 1. Mentoring models and their characteristics.

Conceptions of mentoring

Characteristics

Authors

1. Traditional

mentoring/

transmission-

oriented

mentoring

Providing the student with emotional support, stress reduction. Support in developing novice's instructional knowledge and skills. Help in solving everyday problems. Modelling of teacher's role and strategies. Sharing means and materials with the novice.

Involving the novice into the life of educational institution's community. Mentor as expert of novice's professional work.

2. Educative mentoring/ constructivist-oriented mentoring:

a) personal growth oriented;

b) professional development oriented

3. Reform-based, change fostering mentoring

Bradbury, 2010 ; Richter, Kunter, Ludtke, Klusmann, Anders, Baumert, 2013

Weinberg, Locander, 2014; Richter, Kunter M., Ludtke , Klusmann , Anders, Baumert, 2013; Hudson, 2013; Bradbury, 2014

Bradbury, 2010

a) Listening to the novice, encouraging and enhancing self-reliance. Reduction of stress levels and enhancing job satisfaction.

b) Encouraging the novice to reflect upon teaching practice regularly and to develop it. Modelling of the teacher's role and pedagogical strategies, reflection together with the novice.

Cooperation, information sharing, pair work and reflection upon the novice's experience and skills.

Well-timed meeting the needs of the novice, encouraging his/her professional growth and continuous orientation towards reform-based innovative children education. Modelling of teaching oriented towards outcomes.

Encouragement to reflect upon the problems of teaching practice through the perspective of reform's ideas.

Attitude to ground teaching practice by regular researches, the nurturance of analytical solutions.

Appreciation of both mentor's and student's input and ideas

Having agreed that educative mentor's fostering change meets the novice's involved into constantly changing educational institutions needs, researches have been conducted with the aim to answer the question - what competences should a mentor fostering change in teaching practice have?

2. Purpose and research methods

Purpose of study - to construct and empirically ground the competences of educative mentor, fostering change in the early childhood education.

Research methods. The survey of pre-school teacher mentors.

The description of 8 mentor competences based on traditional, educative, reform-based, change fostering mentoring characteristics has been created. Each competence contained personal mentor's attitude and skills (all in all 97 characteristics) which are typical of traditional, educative, reform-based and change-fostering mentoring.

The description of competences was given to pre-school teacher mentors, who as well as the whole system of pre-school education have been living under the conditions of constant reforms for more than a decade. Mentors were asked to evaluate which attitude and abilities are relevant to the mentor so that he would encourage the novice's personal and professional development, his/her abilities to implement reforms and innovative ideas into the teaching practice of children education.

Factorial analysis of mentor competences structural factors.

Alpha factorial analysis method has been used to highlight interdependence of mentor competence features consistency pattern, to reveal the structure of mentor competences. VARIMAX rotation has been applied, i.e. the rotation of variable axes in the search of maximum dispersion. The matrix of factors was transformed into a more comprehensible form. Rotation does not change the solution quality, i.e. the percentage of total dispersion does not change. However, the input of each factor is different - the concrete factor explains the percentage of total dispersion.

Sample. 459 of early childhood education and pre-school teacher mentors working under the conditions of regular reforms and changes for more than a decade and monitoring the future pre-school education teachers have been surveyed.

3. Findings and results

The description of pre-school teacher mentor competences contains 8 competences. Each competence includes from 3 to 5 statements, describing characteristics, attitudes, knowledge and abilities of traditional mentor, from 3 to 5 statements - educative mentor, and accordingly - change fostering mentor. Lithuanian pre-school education teacher mentors participating in the research gave each statement from 1 to 3 points (1 - not important, 2 - quite important, 3 - very important) while monitoring teaching practice students in the context of reforms and changes.

The survey aimed to establish which mentor's characteristics (accordingly traditional, educative or change fostering mentoring), where assessed as very important by pre-school education teacher mentors. For that reason, 3 characteristics of each competence with the highest evaluation were selected and presented in that mentoring model which matches these characteristics (Table 2). As can be seen, as many as 12 mentor attitudes and abilities oriented towards educative mentoring received the highest evaluation. Therefore, according to mentors with practical experience, competences oriented towards the novice's professional development and personal growth is very important. As many as 10 highest evaluations were given to mentor's attitudes and abilities characteristic to change fostering mentoring model. It shows that mentors with practical experience regard the competences to help the novice to understand and implement into practice the ideas of reforms and innovations are very important. Mentors with practical experience marked as very important only two mentor competences of traditional mentor model. These competences are oriented towards mentoring model based on behaviouristic theories. All in all, under the conditions of constant changes educative mentoring enhancing change in pre-school education is the most effective.

Table 2. Mentor's attitudes and abilities needed for mentoring student under conditions of reforms and changes with the highest evaluation.

Mentoring model Statement Very Competence

important

Traditional mentor

Educative mentor: a) fostering personal growth

A mentor:

- able to help student implement the curriculum teaching 71.8 practice

- is ready to search for the information necessary for 69.0 professional work and to share it with the student

A mentor:

- is ready to mature the young teacher as a personality and a 84.5 professional

- has clear values and is a good example himself for the pre- 78.9 school education teacher

- is able to effectively consult the student how to cope with 77.5 critical situations in life and professional work

- is able to create partnership relations with the student, based 70.4 on an open dialog and reflection

- is able to apply different means to affect the person 66.2 (encouragement, discussions, bi-directional expert evaluation

and, etc.)

Student practice organisation and reflection Communication

Personal Personal

Lifelong learning in the context of changes Communication

Personal

b) fostering A mentor:

professional - is ready for life-long learning, to recognize student's learning

development needs and to seek his/her and the student's high quality learning

77.5 Lifelong learning in the

context of changes

- is able to give positive feedback to the student to enhance his self-reliance, to encourage learning from experience

Expert assessment and reflection

- is able to encourage the student to learn practical skills of 74.6 Social children education together

- is able to help the student to make constructive decisions 73.2 Leadership related with professional work and to manage educational

processes

- encourages the student to ground his/her professional development by self-monitoring, self-assessment and self-reflection

- encourages the student to set professional development goals and to reflect upon achievements

- encourages the student to self-evaluate his/her professional and subject competence, achievements and progress

Change fostering A mentor:

mentor - is able together with the student evaluate and reflect upon their

professional work, to foresee his/her development directions

- is able to share leadership with the student, to take and delegate the responsibility, together search for solutions of children education practice problems

- is able to learn together with the student, values the common input into the development of children education

- is able to react creatively to novelties, to initiate and implement them helping the student to involve into the process

- is able to mediate the student involving him/her into creation of pedagogical innovations, project and methodological network groups

- is able to hear the student's attitude towards children education, to encourage the implementation of new theoretical ideas and reforms into practice

- is able to maintain positive partnership among mentors, students, educational institutions and universities for implementation of reform ideas and innovations

- together with the student reflects children's needs and applies the education "for all students"

- encourages the student to select the meaningful contents of children education, to reflect upon its implementation and change situation

- is open to new models, forms, strategies and environments of children educational process organization, is able to encourage the student's openness to innovations

The factorial analysis helped to highlight the structure of mentor competences.

Mentor competences provided in mentor competences description after VARIMAX rotation were grouped into factors according to their factorial weight. The factorial analysis gave meaningfully interpretable and statistically meaningful results. Without losing essential information the structure of mentor competences has been defined. The results of factorial analysis are presented in Table 3. The method of factorial analysis helped to establish three factors, which explain 79.2% of all data dispersion: factor 1 - 32.7%, factor 2 - 23.2%, factor 3 - 23.3%.

The first factor includes those mentor competences which are based on communication, management, social, leadership, life-long learning, expert assessment and reflection abilities. This factor can be conditionally called professional development factor. The competences included into this factor are marked by high correlation with the factor (from 0.59 to 0.70). The second factor includes personal mentor competence, which is related to mentor's attitudes and abilities to develop the novice as a personality, to keep friendly relations with him/her, to provide with emotional support. This factor can conditionally be called personal. Personal competence is marked by high correlation with the factor (r=0.80). The third factor includes competences of professional practice organization and reflection. Mentor's abilities to create proper conditions for pedagogical practice and to reflect the experience acquired and the change of children educational change are of great importance (r=0.77). This factor can be conditionally called management factor. Pre-school education competence is related with all other factors (with professional development factor r=0.51; with personal- r=0.49; with management- r=0.49).

66.2 Expert assessment and reflection

62.0 Leadership

56.3 Student practice organization and reflection

80.3 Expert assessment and

reflection

76.1 Leadership

74.6 Social

71.8 Lifelong learning in the

context of changes

62.0 Social

53.5 Communication

59.2 Student practice organization

and reflection Pre-school education

Pre-school education

Pre-school education

Table 3. Factorization of mentor attitude's towards mentor competences importance

Factor's name and Structural components F1 F2 F3

dispersion explained

Personal Personal competence .80

Professional Communicative competence .70

development Expert assessment and reflection competence .69

23.2 % Competence in the context of constant learning changes Leadership competence Social competence .60 .60 .59

Management Student practice organization and reflection competence .77

23.3 %

Pre-school education competence .51 .49 .49

It is worth noticing that factorial analysis of competences demonstrated the high dependence of personal, communication; expert assessment and reflection; student practice organization and reflection mentor competences upon factors. These factors carry heavy weight in content structure, so are essential.

4. Conclusions

In the context of implementation of constant pre-school education reforms and innovations, new needs of novices, universities and educational institutions occur, which conditions the appearance of new mentor models. Apart from traditional mentoring grounded on behaviouristic theories which helps the novice to integrate into the work market, new mentoring models grounded on other theories and aims are being developed. Educative mentoring grounded on constructivism theories is being developed, which aims to develop the novice's personality and his/her professional development thanks to mentor and novice's bi-directional cooperation. Constant implementation on innovations emphasizes the need for change enhancing mentoring model. This aims at maturing the novice, able to learn together with the mentor in professional network and not only develop but also seek pre-school education quality, new theoretical concepts and implementation of reform ideas in practice.

The empirical study of pre-school education mentor working under conditions of regular changes has revealed that in practical work mentor's values and skills enabling him to encourage the novice's personal growth and professional development, ability to initiate and manage the process of changes are of huge importance.

In the structure of mentor competences the personal factor has emerged as the most important (well developed personal competence is relevant to the mentor). The factor of professional development relate the range of competences (communicative, social; leadership, life-long learning, expert assessment and reflection). Management factor has emerged as a separate one covering the competence of student practice organization and reflection. The factor of pre-school education reform and change has not emerged, though mentors with practical experience highly evaluated the attitudes and abilities of pre-school education competences referable to change fostering mentoring.

In further researches competences of educative mentor, fostering change in the early childhood education should be revised and the effectiveness of mentors having these competences should be assessed.

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