Investigating Beginning Teachers' Classroom Management Using Teacher-Generated Cases

Project Number
OER 27/09 GQ

Project Duration
June 2010 - February 2014


This mixed-method study aims to investigate beginning teachers' classroom management using their own cases to initiate them into collaborative case-based learning. In NIE, classroom management is a critical component for teacher learning in both pre-service teacher education (e.g. core module) and in-service teacher professional development (e.g. Beginning Teachers' Courses). It is believed to lay the foundation of teachers' conceptual understanding, principles and practices that are necessary for their effective teaching in schools. However, beginning teachers' challenges found within their classrooms have demonstrated the disparity between their prior learning at NIE and current classroom management practices in schools. This has led to the need to re-examine how teachers learn, how classroom management is currently taught and whether the existing curriculum is relevant for the beginning teachers when they position themselves in the reality of 21st century classrooms. In reality, all classroom situations are complex and ill-structured such that no direct solution can be obtained from books which have led us to seeking alternative learning and teaching paths for the teachers. To date, no local studies have focussed on exploring alternative approaches for teacher learning in classroom management. Current empirical research efforts are largely concentrated on the teachers' and students' perceptions in problematic and disciplinary classrooms rather than in the teachers' learning of actual management of the classroom environment in Singapore context (Ang et al, 2007; Chong et al, 2007; Lacina-Gifford, Kher & Besant, 2003; Quek, 2009; Yeo et al, 2007). Empirical studies have shown that case-based or case method teaching is an effective pedagogical approach adopted in fields such as business, education, law, medicine and e-learning (e.g. Angeli, 2004; Bronack, 1999; Chen, Wu & Yang, 2008; Choi & Lee, 2008; Gartland & Katsikitis, 2001; Hay & Katsikitis, 2001; Jonessen and Erdelez, 2005; Kilbane, 2001; Kimball, 1995;Kolodner, 2006; McNaught, Lau, Lam, Hui & Au, 2005; Mitchem, Fitzgerald, Hollingsead, Koury, Miller & Tsai, 2008; Pillar, 2002; Shulman,1992; Silverman, 1996). However, it is seldom applied formally in Singapore's teacher education. Building on the notion of social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978), case-based or case method learning indeed represents a paradigm shift towards a more active, collaborative and inquiry-based approach to teacher education in Singapore. The classroom is indeed teachers' immediate environment for learning because this is where they spend most of their time and effort in activities such as teaching and interacting with students. The classroom thus presents the natural context for teachers to anchor their learning by documenting classroom cases (e.g. narrated classroom situations encountered, their classroom actions and reactions). Teacher-generated classroom case studies are selected in this study because these are teachers' classroom encounters examined from their perspectives. We believe that these are representative learning resources that (1) depict a big picture of classroom reality in Singapore schools (2) provide an insight to learners' representation of what they make sense of their immediate classroom happenings (3) communicate learners' beliefs, perspectives and assumptions of their management practices (4) describe beginning teachers' classroom management concerns and issues experienced (5) support learners' critical self-examination, self-reflection and self-awareness of their management practices (Harrington at al, 1996) (6) support learners' skills in problem solving, collaborative and risk-taking from their immediate environment and strive towards self-improvement in managing their classrooms (Morrison, 2001) (7) support learners taking up of personal responsibility for learning

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