In the field of education there has been a gulf between the production of pedagogical knowledge and the way that it is put into practice in education centres, popularly known as the theory-practice gap (Broekkamp and Hout-Wolters, 2007; Gravani, 2008; Álvarez, 2013).
This paper presents an approach to how teachers can bridge this gap so as to bring together both of these dimensions of education.
Based on this approach, the objective is to carry out an empirical research that explores the theory, practice and their interrelationships in a 'particular' researcher and teacher, José María Rozada.
He is one of the professionals who has worked on this subject in Spain from both sides, both theoretical (as a lecturer at the University of Oviedo, Spain) and practical (as a primary school teacher at Germán Fernández Ramos state school).
This researcher and teacher proposes that, to overcome the theory-practice dichotomy, it is necessary to construct and recognise a 'small pedagogy', that is, a space half-way between academic theorisation and teaching practice, fields that are currently rather far apart. In order to create these, he believes that a plane of theory and a plane of practice must be recognised which attract each other, instead of repelling each other. He proposes an intermediate theory and a practice between those previously formulated, which has been called 'second-order' (Rozada, 2007).
In order to empirically investigate about the theory-practice relationships, a single case study was carried out by using an ethnographic methodology.
Why a single case study? Because of the qualities that it presents. Stake (2005) states that we study a case when it holds a special interest for us.
This teacher has spent more than thirty years studying theory-practice relationships, publishing and designing innovative ways of teaching, and promoting conscious relationships between educational knowledge and school practice.
The case allows to confirm, change, modify or broaden the knowledge about the object of study.
The researcher attended the classes taught by this teacher (primary education, year 6) for a whole school year at a state school and had direct contact with the education community of the school.
The ethnographic methodology took place in the observed classroom, but it also incorporated the school community, with the aim of verifying the teacher’s theory-practice relationships and of understanding how they were promoted. The research followed qualitative patterns: participant observation, interviews and discussion forums, basically.
Five aspects can highlighted as having been central in the process for the case:
- The cultivation of academic training and reading.
- A self-critical review of the professional and institutional traditions and cultures.
- The creation of a personal second-order theory.
- The creation of a personal second-order practice.
- The construction of a small pedagogy (occupying the space between second-order theory and second-order practice).
The bridging of the theory-practice gap is always a delicate question in which no simple recipes for success exist; however, the ideas collected below are basic elements in the process for this particular teacher, as they can also be for teachers who wish to use them. In the results section this will be discussed further, including ideas that are key to the process and how they were addressed in the case study.
How can the theory-practice gap be bridged by teachers? In terms of this study, it can be said that by cultivating academic training and reading, self-critically analysing the teaching experience, and creating personal second-order theories and practices in such a way as to construct 'small pedagogies'. And how is this achieved? By studying, reflecting, and acting, all of which must take place together, something that demands effort, passion and courage.
Building a small pedagogy is a long process of building bridges between theory and practice, and it cannot be achieved overnight (Hennessy & Deaney, 2009). However, it is certainly interesting to attempt to do so, as it places the subject in a positive position with respect to learning, training, the definition of professional principles and innovation. The consequence of the lack of these aspects in teaching is well known and has negative results for education, not only for teaching and learning processes, but also for teachers’ professional development (Day, 2005; Korthagen, 2007; Korthagen y Kessels, 2009).
• Álvarez, C. (2013). Enseñanza y desarrollo profesional docente. Pensar y vivir la educación. Madrid: La muralla.
• Broekkamp, H. & Hout-Wolters, B. (2007). The gap between educational research and practice: a literature review, symposium, and questionnaire. Educational Research and Evaluation, 13, 3, 203-220.
• Day, C. (2005). Developing teachers: the challenges of lifelong learning. London: Falmer Press.
• Gravani, M. (2008). Academics and practitioners: partners in generating knowledge or citizens of two different worlds? Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 649-659.
• Hennessy, S. & Deaney, R. (2009). “Intermediate theory” building: intergrating multiple teacher and researcher perspectivas through in-dept video análisis of pedagogic strategies. Teacher College Record, 111, 7, 1753-1795.
• Korthagen, F. (2007). The gap between research and practice revisited. Educational Research and Evaluation, 13, 3, 303-310.
• Korthagen, F. & Kessels, J. (2009). Linking theory and practice: changing the pedagogy of teacher education. Educational Researcher, 28, 4, 4-17.
• Rozada, J.M. (2007). ¿Son posibles los puentes entre la teoría y la práctica por todo el mundo demandados, sin pilares intermedios? Romero, J. & Luis, A. (Coord.): La formación del profesorado a la luz de una profesionalidad democrática (47-53). Santander: Consejería de Educación de Cantabria.
• Stake, R.E. (2005). The art of case study research. California: SAGE.
This proposal is part of a master or doctoral thesis.Author Information
The ‘Gap’ between Theory and Practice
Many articles have been published in regards to bridging the gap between theory and practice, which suggests there is a substantial gap between the transition from university to the workplace. This occurs in all industries, from information technology through to nursing, which has been described in the past as an “embarrassing failure” (Rafferty et al. 1996 p.685). The goal of university should be to properly equip students with relevant theory in their chosen field as well as the skills and practice to enable them to appropriately adapt and perform when they enter the workplace. Currently there is quite a strong general consensus that the gap not only exists and is pressing but is also increasing (Spouse 2001; Landers 2000). Current literature has examined the available knowledge surrounding the practice and theory gap, and a number of issues have been discovered. Prominently, the major question is whether or not the student is ready for the transition into a workplace from their years at university. Added to this, the perception of the lecturer or tutor in comparison to the perception of the student seems to contrast. It appears there is quite a significant gap between these two perceptions, after sifting through numerous articles concerned with this gap, no research has identified the theory and practice gap from the student’s perspective. This could prove to be one of the key downfalls in bridging the gap. As student’s priorities and understanding may differ from the teacher’s, therefore, from day one there is already a gap in regards to teaching methods. This can also be due to student’s lack of concentration and interest, which may be a result of too much theory and not enough practice. Another vital issue surrounding the theory practice gap, is very simple and generic, but key to bridging the gap, employability. A student’s employability, their general skills and attributes play a major role in the.
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Educational technology professionals are concerned that their classroom practice doesn’t relate to the latest theories. There are many reasons that may perhaps have brought about this distinction between theory and practice. People have been trying to understand learning for over thousands of years. Learning theorists have carried out a debate on how people learn that began during the time of Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The debates that occur.
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. he learners’ physical environment. Modern learning theories integrate the role of culture and other influences on experience in views of how people develop their abilities. Differences in views of the purpose of education lead to the continuation of the debate about the best teaching practices. Educators believe that different strategies are useful for different kinds of learning.
(2011, Jan. 1 ). In Resource: The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice. Retrieved Mar. 2, 2011, from http://www.learner.org/resources/series172.html
Daniel, T, & T. Laurel. (2006). Curriculum Development: Theory Into Practice. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Defazio, J. (2006). Theory into Practice: A Bridge Too Far. AACE Journal, 14 (3), pp. 221-233.
Kuo, Y. (2010). Self-Regulated Learning: From Theory to Practice. Online Submission, Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
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