2019, Cilt 9, Sayý 3, Sayfa(lar) 502-518
Mapping out Teacher Educators’ Conceptions of Teaching: Composing Phenomenographic Argument
Yýlmaz SOYSAL, Somayyeh RADMARD
Ýstanbul Aydýn Üniversitesi, Eðitim Fakültesi, Temel Eðitim Bölümü, Ýstanbul, Türkiye
Keywords: Conceptions of teaching, Teacher educator, Phenomenography
This study aims to describe the concepts of teacher educators about teaching. The research design of this study is phenomenography.
The participants were 37 teacher educators. The concepts of teacher educators regarding the teaching phenomenon were grouped under
five categories. These are “teaching is the transfer of knowledge”, “teaching as the arbitrary elimination of the teacher or learner from the
system”, “teaching is to criticize and evaluate the arguments of others”, “teaching as collective research process” and “teaching as creating
pedagogical content knowledge”. The most important point in this context is the level of awareness of teacher educators about teaching
concepts. In this sense, the most concrete suggestion is that teacher educators should expand their teaching concepts by being included
in professional development programs.
It has been widely acknowledged that if one of the crucial
locomotive forces of the educational great-leap-forward is the
teachers as the change agents, other is the teachers of teachers
(Arslanoglu 2015; Goodwin and Kosnik 2013; Vanassche
and Kelctermans 2016). However, teacher educators’ (TEs)
pedagogical awareness about teaching and learning have been
an uncharted territory. Murray and Kosnik (2011) and Murray
(2005) asserted that becoming a teacher educator has been
stayed as an under researched area. This group has not been
completely understood as a professional community. This has
stayed as the mystery of higher education (Darling-Hammond
TEs have not anticipated or required to establish a (very)
particular type of expertise in teaching. Their personal transitions
from a P-12 (pre-kindergarten to 12th grade) teacher to
becoming a teacher educator have been seen taken-for-granted
(Goodwin and Kosnik 2013; Vanassche and Kelctermans
2014) by excluding a thought-provoking interrogation of the
transition in a research-based manner (Murray 2005; Zeichner
2005). This point was criticised by Zeichner (2005): if one is
good at teaching of elementary or secondary level, this expertise
will be directly transferred for being good at teaching with
teacher candidates. On the other hand, it must be accepted
that transition is not a simple matter to attain.
Berry (2007) reported that the transition may require sophisticated
processes to be accomplished in an intended manner.
For instance, an array of studies (e.g. Berry, 2007; Bullock and
Christou 2009; Dinkelman et al. 2006; Kosnik and Beck 2008)
confirmed that becoming a teacher educator (the transition)
includes infra-structural (base) realities such as complex
social and institutional interactions and exchanges in which
TEs’ pedagogical belief systems or conceptions of teaching
and accompanied in-class decision-making and actions as the
super-structural entities (cognition of TEs) are continuously
shaped and revised. Attempts for researching into teacher
educators would therefore be pragmatist in illuminating an
under researched and newly proliferating line of inquiry.
In this study, it was the imperative to research into the conceptions
of the TEs about teaching. This would be generative in
shedding light on the TEs’ conceptions (or belief systems) and
related pedagogical actions. As proposed, knowing prospective
teachers’ conceptions about teaching and learning would
be significantly contributing to attain greater instructional
improvements (Pajares 1992; Richardson 1996). This may also
be truly valid and prerequisite for TEs’ professional development
(Loughran 2008) as they have been located at the core of
better teacher education (Loughran 2006; Vloet and van Swet
Earlier studies showed that TEs might not hold a pedagogical
awareness for discerning initial conceptions of teacher candidates
to design and practice their teaching (e.g. Bullough
1997). Its major reason can be explicated by referring to the
point that whether TEs are really interested in their own conceptions
of teaching or whether they have attempts to reflect upon how their conceptions of teaching and related instructional
actions impact the future pedagogical orientations of
teacher candidates. Indeed, it may be non-transparent to TEs
which conceptions and related actions of teaching should be
valued and modelled for the sake of improving the teacher
education quality (Timmerman 2009). As a common sense, it
has been accepted that for delving into both theoretical and
practical aspects of the teacher education, a comprehensive
(re)analysis of TEs’ conceptions of teaching are indispensable.
As Donche and Petegem (2011) advocated, neater examination
of the conceptions of TEs about teaching may be productive in
explicating clever ways of learning to teach students in teacher
TEs’ conceptions of teaching can be categorised as either teacher-
centred or student-centred (Samuelowicz and Bain 2001).
The titles of the categorisations may differ (content-oriented
and learning-oriented; subject-centred and skill-centred; traditional
and constructivist, etc.), but, instructional intentions stay
same. A teacher-centred tendency implies that there is single
epistemic and social authority of class and primary knower and
evaluator as the teacher. To put it differently, when teachers
teach, students (should) learn. A student-centred tendency
signifies that teacher and students co-construct knowledge
through, for instance, social negotiations of meanings as a
learning community in which epistemic and social authority is
mostly shared, thus, there is more than one primary knower
and evaluator in the classroom (Lemke 1990).
There are numerous studies in which academics’ conceptions
about teaching are gathered around aforesaid featured categories:
teacher-centred vs. student-centred or content-centred
vs. skill-centred (Dall’Alba 1991; Fox 1983; Gow and Kember
1993; Kember and Gow 1994; Martin and Balla 1991; Martin
and Ramsden 1992; Pratt 1992; Samuelowicz and Bain 1992).
Some researchers tried to add a third dimension of teaching
conceptions as intermediate categories such as modelling ways
of being (Pratt 1992), organising learning environment (Martin
and Ramsden 1992), helping students develop concepts (Prosser
et al. 1994) or student-teacher interaction (Kember 1997).
In particular, Samuelowicz and Bain (2001) represented an
in-depth investigation of teaching conceptions of academics.
They extracted nine conceptual dimensions that were multiplied
by seven teaching conceptions. In advance, Samuelowicz
and Bain (2001) divided teaching conceptions into two sub-categories
that were mutually exclusive: teacher-centred (e.g.,
imparting information, transmitting structured knowledge,
providing and facilitating understanding) and learner-centred
(e.g., helping students develop expertise, preventing
misunderstanding, negotiating understanding, encouraging
knowledge creation). Samuelowicz and Bain (2001) rechecked
detected categories whether they incorporated intermediate
zone(s). But, transitional zones were not clearly detected even
though teacher-centred conceptions included some weaker
signs of learner-centred conceptions such as “teacher shows
how knowledge can be used” (Samuelowicz and Bain, 2001;
Åkerlind (2003) reviewed studies exploring teaching conceptions
of educators and reached some communalities and
differences (see Table 1). Regarding communalities in the
studies examining educators’ conceptions of teaching, teachers-
learners (as the members, sides or camps of instructional
sequences) and teaching-learning (instructional processes)
were found as isolated from each other in the respondents’
conceptions. These communalities are explicitly reflected to
the differences (Table 1). Some studies examined teaching
conceptions of the participants by collapsing heterogenous
categories through focusing on independent classifications on
teaching phenomenon (Samuelowicz and Bain 1992; Kember
1997). Some other studies constructed (a required and plausible)
conceptual breadthness regarding clarified conceptions by
advocating the fact that teacher-centred and student-centred
teaching are the two ends of the same pedagogical scale (Martin
and Balla 1991; Dall’Alba 1991; Prosser and Trigwell 1999).
Three critical aspects have therefore been emerged regarding
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|Table 1: Differences and Communalities of the Conceptions of the Educators
• Teacher-centred vs. learner-centred aspect (members),
• Teachers for teaching vs. learners for learning aspect (processes),
• Independent categorisation of the conceptions vs. related
categorisation of the conceptions dichotomy/aspect (analysis).
How these salient points could be handled by an instrumental
manner? The researchers of the current study tried to
propose an alternative thinking and talking to reconsider the
above-stated tendencies of research findings. The researchers
are of the idea that the aforesaid aspects can be reconsidered
by taking the teaching sequences’/episodes’ pedagogical orientations
When a teacher educator teaches how to teach, there are
diverse contents to be considered. If a teacher educator tries to directly deliver all contents, by acting and guaranteeing
primary knower and evaluator role, his or her teaching conceptions
can be categorised as fully subject-centred (Krull and
Raudsepp 2012; Wildman 2008). Because, there would be no
room for the cognitive contributions of prospective teachers
(PTs). To explicate, given responses or utterances of the students
are evaluated or legitimated in terms of their relevancy
by the teacher who holds the epistemic and social authority in
the classroom (Berry, 1981; Lemke, 1990). In this instructional
setting, even though the students make their voices explicit,
they would not be responsible for criticising, evaluating, legitimating
or judging others’ predicates to make authentic intellectual
contributions to the classroom discourse (Lin, 2007).
This asymmetrical classroom interaction is also specified by
Mameli and Molinari (2013) that when a teacher has a dominant
position in the classroom “s/he assigns the turns, selects
the children who can intervene and the time when they can do
so, chooses the topics, poses the questions and evaluates the
pupil’s answers referring to what s/he considers as indisputable
correctness criteria” (p. 198). In addition, it would not be
possible and plausible to ignore the teacher educator’s voices
as in the form of intellectual contributions that are expected to
be neater to scientific point of view. In other words, it would
not be credible to assign PTs to handle all contents by themselves
since it is the teacher educator who (should) govern
alternative thinking-talking of PTs to get somewhere in the discourse.
Both camps’ intellectual contributions are expectedly
required, but, in a combined, balanced and systematic manner
ensuring a conceptual consensus that may be mediated by
social negotiations of meanings.
The researchers of the present study are of the idea that during
teaching a specific topic regarding how to teach, there may be
teaching episodes (cycles, sequences) or temporal moments
incorporating dialogic modes of teaching in which more problematic
and contradictory points of views are iteratively negotiated.
There must also be an array of authoritative temporal moments in which knowledge modes of teaching are handled
to review and wrap up the attained intellectual consensus. The
following example makes the presented assertion clearer.
A science teacher educator may teach the term Pedagogical
Content Knowledge (PCK) to PTs to expand their reasoning
about how to teach, for instance, science. There are different
models regarding constituent components of science-related
PCK. One of the models generated by Magnusson, Krajcik and
Borko (1999) and incorporates five components. The components
may be characterised as knowledge domains of PTs to
ponder about how s/he designs and conducts a science activity.
The components are represented in Figure 1.
If a teacher educator tries to transmit theoretically abstracted
components of the PCK model to PTs and expectedly if there
is no student-led verbal utterances as in the form of intellectual
contributions, it can be said that this content is taught by
direct lecturing accompanying a teacher-centred conception.
But, a teacher educator may reanalyse the specific pieces of
the contents to be taught to regularise the streaming of the
intellectual interactions and exchanges for the sake of the PTs’
For instance, the lecture could be started by gathering student-
led responses about characterising knowledge domains
of teaching profession. For the beginning exchanges and interactions,
there may be low-interanimation for the proposed ideas (Mortimer & Scott, 2003) in which the teacher educator
only explores and pools PTs’ ideas by not interrogating them
(more learner-centred episode of talks). Then, the teacher
educator could select some particular responses that are neater
and closer to his or her instructional agenda while ignoring
others that are irrelevant for the sake of the streaming of
the discourse (more teacher-centred episode). However, the
teacher educator has to develop and present arguments why
s/he selected or ignored some specific ideas over other (more
This would be more possible to engage the PTs into social
negotiations of meaning. For an instance, all group may discuss
which parts of the PCK components should be centralised for
more fruitful science teaching. This may be a triggering discussion
point and countless student-led arguments can be proliferated.
The discursive role of the teacher educator should be
to reconsider and negotiate proposed student-led responses to
display whether their arguments are instrumental or should be
modified or shifted to get somewhere regarding topic (Engle
and Conant 2002). Some PTs may centralise the knowledge and
beliefs about students’ understanding of specific science topics
and some others may put the knowledge and beliefs about
instructional strategies into centre. Then, the teacher educator
may deepen the breadthness of the negotiations through
prompting the PTs for evaluating, judging and legitimating
their classmates’ propositions (more learner-centred episode).
This may ensure that there are more than one primary knower
and judger/legitimator in the classroom. Clearly, the teacher
educator wants to get somewhere, however, s/he welcomes
and acknowledges the student-led ideas to restructure the
streaming of the discursive exchanges and interactions to persuade
PTs that there may be alternative and more explanatory
ideas in illustrating the topic under consideration.
Moreover, the teacher educator holds a prescriptive curricular
accountability and agenda to teach the content in an intended
(scientific) manner. Thus, the teacher educator may ultimately
explain the fact that components of the PCK should be worked
together in a combined, pragmatist and systematic manner
(more teacher-centred episode). Acceptedly, this overarching
proposition (interrelatedness of the constituent components)
regarding PCK may also be reached by the PTs. If not, there
would no pedagogical inconvenience in directly lecturing
interrelated nature of the science-related PCK. To advocate,
the group had already achieved to socially negotiate many
parts of the science-related PCK within more learner-centred
teaching cycles that were accompanied by complementary and
compensatory teacher-centred cycles.
As a whole, the teacher-centred teaching contains only pervasive
voices of TEs. However, learner-centred teaching incorporates
student-led cognitive contributions in addition to the
teacher-led ones. Clear in the above-located example, both
teacher-centred and learner-centred teaching episodes may
create a generative rhythm or harmony (Mortimer and Scott
2003) of verbal exchanges requiring both camps’ contributions
for a more pragmatist teaching. In a sequential manner, all university-
based contents may incorporate both teacher-oriented
and student-oriented overlapped teaching episodes based on
the structure and nature of contents to be taught.
Thus, teacher-centred and learner-centred sides of a teaching
process may not be necessarily considered as a mutually
exclusive or isolated system. Indeed, there may be no need
of separating the teaching process from the learning process.
However, aforesaid arguments taken in this study would
be more viable and less intuitive when TEs’ conceptions of
teaching are explored by establishing related categorisations
(mutually inclusive) instead of collapsing individual classifications
(mutually exclusive). It was therefore more attainable
through composing phenomenographic arguments for the TEs’
conceptions of teaching.
Categorising the TEs’ Conceptions of Teaching
In simplistic sense, once TEs add only their contributions to
teaching episodes, they would ensure a less expanded teaching
conception. When TEs try to add other voices as PTs, this would
signify a more expanded teaching conception. This confirms
that, in a phenomenographic sense adopted in this study, TEs’
conceptions of teaching can be more or less (in)complete since
their experiences regarding teaching have always been partial
(Marton 1995). TEs may discern a particular aspect of teaching
phenomenon by excluding learners from teaching sequence(s)
at a given time and within a specific context (Marton 1995).
The breadth of the awareness of TEs who have experienced
teaching processes determines differentiation or discernment
of teaching phenomenon.
There may be two aspects of TEs’ teaching conceptions: (i)
shrinking potentiality (only teacher or only student), (ii)broadening
capacity (teacher in addition to students). In this study,
a teacher educator might experience diverse ways of teaching.
This would confirm a potential for variation regarding teaching
phenomenon (Marton and Booth 1997). Other participatory
teacher educator might not engage in sufficiently diversified
teaching experiences causing potential for uniformity regarding
expressions about teaching (Marton and Booth 1997).
Potential for uniformity and potential for variation is about
fluctuating inclusivity of awareness regarding experienced
phenomenon. If a participated teacher educator included students
into instructional process in addition to his or her attendance,
this permits for documentation of more sophisticated
teaching conceptions. On the other hand, when participant
educator ignored student-led contributions, lower complexity
in teaching conceptions would be anticipated since teaching is
considered to be as in the bag form by teacher educator (Marton
and Booth 1997) as s/he delivers, and students absorbs.
In this study, it was expected that if the TEs executed their
teaching by the background impulses of incomplete (fragmental)
teaching conceptions, they presumably would try to diffuse
information from primary knower (themselves) to less knowledgeable
others (PTs). This confirms uniformity in conception
(and action). Thus, any deviations from the TEs’ (prescriptive)
instructional agenda would not be welcomed. Conversely,
when a teacher educator counts PTs in teaching episodes, the
uniformity of instructional action is respectively destroyed. To
explicate, PTs may offer alternating or incomplete (deviating)
thinking that may be inappropriate for a teacher educator’s
teaching agenda that is neater to scientific point of view. In this
context, TEs are expected to make a pedagogical decision. On
one hand, TEs may ignore differentiating student-led thinking
by neglecting their utterances. On the other hand, by means
of dialogic teaching, TEs may argue about why offered (alternating)
ideas are not so much serviceable in elucidating the
phenomenon under negotiation. In the presence of internally
persuasive dialogic teaching (Mortimer and Scott 2003), TEs
may convince PTs about the feasibility of his or her arguments
that are alternative to the PTs’. If this is the case, TEs’ teaching
conceptions should be considered within a continuum.
As an important note, it was not a purpose in this study to label
a teacher educator’s teaching conceptions as wrong (included
only teacher) or right (included students and teacher) with
regards to their pedagogical relevance. As continuum or relatedness
mentality requires, a teacher educator who includes
only his or her contributions to teaching processes cannot be
evaluated so much wrong, instead, his or her conceptions are
only incomplete (Åkerlind 2008).
The researchers embraced the idea that a teacher educator
holding conceptual uniformity might be suffering from lacking
a sufficient awareness of the enlarged aspects of the phenomenon
In this study, the TEs’ teaching conceptions were investigated
by above-elaborated theoretical framework. The reported
teaching conceptions were delved into for following purposes:
• Whether the TEs included or excluded PTs’ contributions/
voices or whether the TEs isolated themselves (teachers)
from others (students) while performing teaching,
• Whether the TEs put an isolation between teaching and
For the context of this study, reported documentations of
the TEs’ teaching conceptions were reviewed by taking their
possible relatedness into account to compose phenomenographic
arguments. As a whole, while composing (a) phenomenographic
argument we focused on a differentiated research
programme in which we only tried to describe the qualitative
or conceptual ranges within the conceptions of teaching of the
educators by avoiding to label them as just teacher-centred
or student-centred through an oversimplified manner and by
considering them in a continuous spectrum. The outcomes of
the study may be informative for the TEs to ponder about their
available conceptions of teaching that are essential in defining
in-class pedagogical decisions and accompanied actions.
This study purposed to reveal varying conceptions of the TEs
about teaching. A phenomenographic approach was conducted
to map out the TEs’ conceptions (Marton, 1986). The
phenomenon under consideration was teaching as it appeared
to the TEs. Hypothetically, the teaching phenomenon might
be appeared differently to each of the TEs. Because, the TEs
might hold unique teaching experiences although they undertook
similar university-based teaching (see also Åkerlind,
2003; 2008). The researchers were in search of reaching a
particularly created experiential variation embedded in the
TEs’ clarifications regarding teaching (Marton, 1986). The
basic focus of this phenomenographic research was that the
TEs might conceptualise different, communal, beyond, more
or less enlarged aspects of teaching conception through their
diversifying frames of references (Marton, 1986). Thus, reported
clarifications of the TEs could be aggregated to crystallise
an outcome space incorporating relatedness or overlapped
positions among conceptions. The researchers were less interested
in individual documentations about teaching. Collective
meaning was in emphasizing (Åkerlind, 2012). To advocate, the
qualitative or conceptual ranges were revealed based on the
meaning pool in which all conceptions of teaching were inherently
added. In a sense, while determining that a conception
of teaching is broader or groundling than other(s), we had to
consider and use all conceptions of teaching by juxtaposing
them for comparing and contrasting emerged understandings
meaningfully (Åkerlind, 2012), in turn, the process had to deal
with collective meaning positions instead of analytical ones.
The researchers tried to distinguish patterns of comprehensions
in nonnumeric language and depicture diversifications
in the way the TEs ascribed meaning as teaching in the world
(university-based context) around them.
The participants were 37 TEs (Females=21; Males=16). The
TEs were affiliated in different universities of Turkey. The TEs
were employed in the universities located in different regions
of the country (particularly in Marmara Region) incorporating
socio-cultural-economic differentiations. The participants’ university-
based teaching experience levels ranged from 3 to 26
years (M = 13.1; SD = 4.2) in addition to the out-of-university
experiences such as working as a school principal. The participants
were enrolled in the following teaching programs:
English language teacher education (n = 2), preschool teacher
education (n = 4), elementary education (n = 11), elementary
science teacher education (n = 9); primary mathematics
education (n = 5); Turkish language teacher education (n = 6).
The participants included PhD candidates as the (prospective)
teacher educators and worked as research assistants (n = 19), as
well as assistant professors (n = 13), associate professors (n = 3)
and a professor (n = 1). Most of the research assistants grasped
university-based teaching experiences by either supporting the
lecturer or undertaking a complete teaching course’s planning,
designing and implementing. As the researchers’ colleagues,
the participants were willing to volunteer and eager to document
their university-level teaching experiences as the main
source of their conceptions of teaching.
Data Gathering Procedures
Qualitatively-oriented data was collected by phenomenographic
interviewing (PI) (Booth 1997). The PI processes serviced
to elicit the TEs ways of experiencing regarding teaching
phenomenon. Openness and deepness were the specific purposes
of the PI processes. For this study, the openness of the
PI signifies that the interviewers were prepared themselves to
receive unexpected or distinguished responses about teaching
phenomenon. The openness during the PI processes were
instrumental to capture the fruitful reflections of the TEs on
their experiences; externalising many meanings on teaching.
Moreover, the interviewers prepared themselves to capture
varied ways of experiencing of the TEs by exhausting the
provided meanings until they were saturating and depleting
For actualising the PI, an interview protocol was conducted.
Specific conversation openers were involved in the protocol.
There were six conversation openers to obtain all different
teaching conceptions of the TE. Some examples of the conversation
openers are displayed in Figure 2. Instead of just
addressing the interviewing questions, specific case-based
initiators were presented to the TEs for concretising their conceptions.
For instance, by the third conversation opener, it was aimed
at prompting the TEs for conceiving a particular pedagogical
context in which the teacher educator is not able to scaffold
student-led academic attainments (Figure 2). Critical stances in
the responses of the TEs were therefore anticipated. In addition,
by 6th conversation opener, it was intended to identify
the personal examples of the TEs about meaningful teaching
instances. The conversation openers are mostly open-ended presumptively permitting grasping any types of teaching experiences
at the university-level.
Analysis process leaded to the identification of conceptions
(meanings, categories of description) and outcomes space
that was structured as a particular conceptual system by the
provided conceptions containing a hierarchical order (Marton,
1986). The documentations of the TEs about teaching were
sought to discern emerged patterns of conceptions through
continuous comparison of the verbal data to each other to
detect any qualitatively-oriented variations. Åkerlind (2012),
asserted that open-mindedness is the paramount element of
a phenomenographic analysis. During the analysis, the main
target was to minimise prescriptive frames of mind to prevent
arriving terminal categories regarding the conception too rapidly.
The differences and communalities in the meanings of two
or more TEs were visible and transparent in the presence of
the continuous comparisons of the provided clarifications. The
conceptions derived from a teacher educator’s expressions
were strictly tested in terms of their inclusivity of awareness
by taking the other TEs’ expressions into account. This ensured
a focus on the delimitation and grouping of emerged themes
based on the specific situation of experiences as teaching in
Three methodological steps were taken during the analysis:
• Discerning the ways of experiencing,
• Composing the categories of description,
• Configurating the outcome space (Sjostrom and Dahlgren
Partial (delimited, unfinished) experiences of the TEs were
labelled as the varying ways of conceptions of teaching. It was
imperative to think that the partial conceptions derived from
the TEs’ own reality had indeed been generated mostly by engaging in instructional processes at the university-level. The
major goal of searching for diversifying ways of experiencing
was to differentiate the presented conceptions of the TEs.
Sjostrom and Dahlgren (2002) recommended three tips for
a more instrumental differentiation: frequency, pregnancy,
position. The TEs were in a tendency in rehearsing particular
pieces of thinking about teaching in reacting to the conversation
openers. During PI, even though the interviewer tried to
deepen proposed responses, the interviewees insisted on their
assertions in explicating the proposed cases (frequency).
The TEs held solid core (nuclear; unchanging) expressions
and protective belts (bounds; enlargements) that surrounded
their core verbalisations about teaching. Protective belts were
composed by the TEs in enlarging their core conceptions by
ramifying their nuclear clarifications (pregnancy).
The positions of the verbal manifestations were also indicative
in differentiating a conception from another and grasping the
featured pedagogic intention embedded in a clarification. For
instance, a teacher educator reacted a conversation opener.
Then, s/he zoomed in a specific point to explicate the underlying
reasons of his or her responses. In the last part of verbalising
processes, s/he finalised his or her thinking by referring
to the very initial point s/he had mentioned. Thus, the specific
positions of the verbal clarifications were serviceable in selecting,
marking and differentiating the conceptions of the TEs.
In the second step of the analysis, it was aspired to compose
qualitatively distinctive or communal categories of description.
A pool of meanings was composed by gathering all conceptions
of the TEs. The presented verbalisations were then assigned
to the categories of description that were qualitatively differentiated
abstractions. The strict rule followed during generating
the categories of description was to abide by the within
(intra-categories/conceptions) and the between (inter-categories/
conceptions). Within a category, homogenous (qualitatively
similar) conceptions were clustered together. Between two categories, heterogeneous (qualitatively dissimilar) clusters
of conceptions were separated. It was an iteratively-oriented
comparative process in which communalities within and diversifications
between the externalised conceptions were taken
into account. Extracted conceptions of the TEs were tested
against the data, adjusted, retested, and adjusted again. Thus,
there was a descending rate of change regarding the between
and the within and ultimately the whole comparative system
of conceptions was stabilized (Marton, 1986).
The last complementary stage of the analysis was to compose
an outcome space incorporating structural relationships among
the extracted conceptions. To put it differently, there might be
a conception including a greater inclusivity of awareness of
the TEs regarding teaching compare to another one. This was
where the hierarchy among the categories of description came
in (e.g., Conception-A inherently incorporates Conception-B).
Two types of structural relations were deduced from the conceptions:
linear (equal value between two conceptions) and
hierarchical (increasing breadth of awareness between two
conceptions). The linearity and hierarchy among the conceptions
were determined by both taking the abstracted data and
theoretical stances defined earlier into account. The outcome
space included conceptions of teaching that incorporated a
more or less conceptual extensiveness of awareness based
on a data-driven and theory-laden perspective. The extracted
conceptions of teaching were ample. However, the outcome
space was composed in a parsimonious manner.
The TEs’ teaching conceptions can be seen in Table 2. There
were five conceptions (categories of description) abstracted.
In Table 2, sample ways of experiencing regarding teaching can
Conception-1: Knowledge transmission modes of teaching
For this category, the TEs depictured teaching as transmitting
the knowledge from a source to the less knowledgeable ones.
The TEs mostly defined themselves as the sources of the
knowledge. For the TEs teaching can be best actualised through
diffusing and injecting information from more knowledgeable
ones (e.g., TEs) to less knowledgeable others (PTs).
“My students do not come to the classroom by equipping
sufficient knowledge. First, I therefore complete their lack of
knowledge, then teaching becomes easier. Or I am sending
them texts to read ahead. Otherwise, when I start to tell directly,
they all get out of the process.” (Elementary Education,
During interviews, for instance, one of the participants referred
to the prior knowledge capacities or mental structures of the
learners. It seemed that the educator perceived that learners
come to the classroom by incomplete (pre)knowledge structure
that is an instructional obstacle for initiating and maintaining
classroom interactions. For a so-called scaffolding process,
the educator offered some preliminary external sources of
knowledge to the learners to complete themselves to be able to comprehend what the teacher educator delivers. As seen
in this excerpt, the teacher educator evaluates the knowledge
as an external entity to the learners, thus, this external thing
should be conveyed to the learners who should be prepared to
absorb the being transmitted knowledge as a sponge.
The TEs with this conception of teaching uttered several
aspects regarding how they delivered factual knowledge. For
instance, they referred to attention gatherers to initiate a lecture
or mentioned about PTs’ attention spans to rearrange the
flow of lecturing (Table 2). The TEs also indicated that teaching
should be a facilitative tool for permanent learning. Retrieving
course contents as a crosscheck of permanent learning is more
attainable for learners if they are participated in a drill-andpractice
or trial-and-error process (Table 2).
The TEs with this conception remarked an initial requirement
on the side of the PTs who should hold an initial understanding
or be cognitively prepared to capture, grasp and memorise
transmitted content. In addition, the TEs with this conception
advocated the idea that the PTs should be able to apply and
transfer so-called acquired knowledge to other fields of their
everyday life. If the PTs are taught in a way that they are able to
transfer the delivered facts to transcendental contexts, it can
be considered as an instance of better learning.
To sum up, the TEs with this conception seemed to exclude
students from the system by explicating the teaching phenomenon
as a plain transmission of knowledge and transfer
of the memorised knowledge pieces to extended contexts by
PTs. Thus, the direct transfer of the acquired knowledge was
not portrayed as a way of transformation or internalisation of
knowledge for individualised purposes, instead, teaching was
clarified as a trans missive entity by the TEs.
Conception-2: Arbitrary inclusion or exclusion of the teacher
The TEs with this conception of teaching considerably laid
emphasis on the active and participatory liabilities of PTs. The
TEs described learning as an individualised or personally-regulated
process. At the outset, this type of interpretation could
be sorted out as a learner-centred conceptual tendency. However,
it was not incorporated any tangible traces of the authentic
learner-centred orientations. To support, the TEs with this
conception asserted that, teachers are for teaching processes
and learners are for learning processes (Table 2). They therefore
seemed to not to integrate two sides of the same scale
in a combined, systematic and pragmatic way. The TEs were
aware that there is a rigorous distinctiveness between two
terms as teacher-centred and student-centred. However, they
tended to isolate teacher from learning and excluded learner
from teaching. A typical teaching sequence should be therefore
comprised either only learners’ learning or only teachers’
teaching. The TEs with this conception held the idea that
teaching is about teachers while learning is about PTs.
In this context, undeniable reciprocal determinism between
teaching and learning was seemed to be automatically eliminated
from instruction in an arbitrary manner by the TEs.
The TEs with this conception recognised a place for PTs in the
instruction. However, they did not establish a concrete linkage
between teaching and learning by making references to their
attendances into PTs’ learning processes.
“Now the roles of the learner and the teacher have dramatically
changed. Most communities have argued whether there is
teaching. Our new role is to guide the learner. So, the responsibility is now in the learners. It should always have been like
that. The basic rule is that learning occurs when the organism is
active. For example, the orchestra chief simply tells you which
instrument will print which note. And the rest is the responsibility
of the student. Therefore, the learner is in the centre.”
(Primary Mathematics Education, Female; participant-14).
The aforesaid arguments can also be supported and confirmed
by an interpretation belongs to a participatory mathematics
educator. She was of the idea that the roles of the learners
and teachers have been altered radically and dramatically.
She also referred to a negotiation point as whether there is a
phenomenon like teaching. As seen, she acknowledged herself
as a guide person during tutoring. She also accepted the idea
that, as a rule of learning psychology, when the organism is
active, then, the acquisition occurs. She also provided a metaphor
of instruction as orchestrating learning processes as a
maestro to support her ideas. However, she did not attempt to attach learning and teaching processes. In other words,
she seemed to oversimplify or underrepresent the crucial and
rather sophisticated role of the teacher while orchestrating
considerably different instrumental voices to capture a meaningful
composition as an intellectual consensus in the context
of teaching how to teach mathematics to the PTs. As a whole,
as a phenomenographic interpretation, there is no difference
between excluding student-led voices (Conception-1) or
teacher-led voices (Conception-2) from instructional processes
advocated by some participants in this study.
Conception-3: Teaching as evaluating, judging, criticising and
legitimating others’ arguments
The TEs with this conception perceived teaching in a broader
sense (e.g., negotiation of meaning through collective
meaning-making) compare to above-presented conceptions.
According to the TEs with this conception, teaching should be
comprised PTs who should be discursively promoted for being
responsible for interrogating their classmates’ alternating or
incomplete thinking. Any aspect of teaching should be covered
by arguing about peer-led ideas deliberately and transparently
indicated by the TEs with this conception. The TEs with this conception
advocated that teaching should be a process in which
student-led or teacher-led ideas must be rigorously enquired
during purposeful negotiations of meaning, for instance,
regarding the educational phenomena. In an in-depth manner,
the TEs with this conception provided presentative ways of
initiating and maintaining a negotiation for genuine meaning
making of the (educational) phenomena (Table 2).
As the TEs described, PTs may hold alternating ways of thinking
about an educational phenomenon (e.g., PCK). Student-led
thinking (spontaneous concepts) may be substantially different
from the TEs’ thinking style favouring scientific point of view
(formalised concepts). The TEs with this conception do not
easily turn down alternative or incomplete student-led thinking
although it holds less explanatory power or is respectively
fallacious compare to scientific point of view. Instead, for the
maintenance of negotiation of alternating meanings, a teacher
educator should ponder about underlying reasons why PTs
hold an incomplete or relatively inaccurate reasoning about
the concept under consideration (Table 2).
As it was understood from the interpretations of the TEs with
this conception, when this is the case of instruction, a discursively
prepared teacher educator should detect student-led
thinking fallacies or incomplete pieces of reasoning and make
them public for others’ evaluation, judgements and legitimisations
for the sake of interthinking. The student-led thinking, at
first, should be analysed in terms of its scope and explanatory
power in illustrating a phenomenon from the lens of the thinking
system of TEs who may want to reach an alternative point
of view that is closer to scientific point of view. Then, if there
are, conceptual, epistemological or ontological cognitive conflictions
in the thinking of PTs should be publicised to convince
them that their existing assertions may not be instrumental in
resolving the conflictions revealed. The major goal of broadcasting
any conflicting student-led idea is to promote others’
intellectual contributions to modify the ill-structured ideas and
to attain a consensus for individual-led internalisations.
According to the TEs with this conception, teaching and
learning should be overlapped by two processes: (i) contradiction-
posing (under the control and regulation of the TEs), (ii)
contradiction-solving (under the control and responsibility of
PTs). The TEs with this conception externalised that argumentatively-
oriented student-led cognitive exercises must be pervasive
for the interwoven processes. To sum, the TEs with this
conception were in a tendency in involving both teacher and learners in instructional sequences in a collectivist manner by
not ignoring or excluding the contributions of the two camps.
“During my lectures, I saw that students do not tend to
response to me much when I evaluate or judge their opinions.
But I also observed that they provided deeper and rigorous
responses to their friends. So, when talking and thinking with
each other, the students defend themselves better. Of course,
they perceive me as an authority. But they also acknowledge
themselves at the same status with the others. I thus attach
importance to the fact that most of the conversations should
be among the students thus I have tried to attain that. But I am
definitely interfering when the argument is dead.” (Elementary
Science Education, Female; participant-19).
One of the participants, as her interpretation located above,
focused an alternative perspective in externalising an insight of
the Conception-3. She, consciously or unconsciously, indicated
how epistemic authority was allocated in her classroom as she
conceived teaching as an epistemic-social authority sharing
process. At the outset, the participant accepted the fact that
the students were not mostly tend to criticise, evaluate, judge
or legitimate her externalisations that were acknowledged
unquestionable formalised factual knowledge claims. However,
she also observed that the student tended to take an
evaluative and critical stance when it comes to legitimate their
peers’ utterances. Based on her observations, she claimed
that the student teachers were able to defence their available
meaning positions when the dialogues were actualised among
the peer community instead of a teacher-student interaction
pattern. Thus, the teacher educator seemed to decide to plan
and implement in-class teaching as a collective activity where
the student teachers verbally and socially interacted each
other when continuously shaping and re-shaping their and
others’ meaning positions. However, the participant also tried
to contribute to classroom dialoguing or philosophising when
the peer-based exchanges were saturated and congested.
Conception-4: Teaching as a collective research process
The TEs with this conception seemed to be able to enlarge the
inclusivity of the awareness regarding teaching compare to the
TEs externalising Conception-3. The TEs with this conception
(Conception-4) elucidated teaching and learning as a way of
engaging in a research process. According to the TEs with this
conception, teaching should be conceived as a collaborative
research process that should be undertaken by teacher and
learners (Table 2). To put it differently, teaching may be comprehended
as a learning community’s activity in which various
stakeholders may cognitively and practically contribute to constructed
meaning making through researching into meaning.
In brief, the TEs with this conception of teaching perceived
teaching and learning as doing research (Table 2).
The TEs with this conception acknowledged the discursively
instrumental place of the social negotiations of meanings
through confliction-posing and confliction-solving and by
respecting diversifying thinking typologies developed for phenomena.
However, the TEs with this conception insisted on a
peculiar step further comprising data collection, analysis and interpretation to resolve detected and accepted conceptual,
epistemological and ontological contradictions.
In other words, after the student-led assertions are challenged
and discussed, teaching and learning process may not be finalised.
According to the TEs with this conception, PTs should also
be guided to gather, analyse and interpret data to persuade
themselves about that their previously stated arguments may
not be adequate in accounting for phenomenon under negotiation.
Thus, PTs may change their initial minds in the presence
of concrete data-based and evidence-based articulations that
are constructed by the learning community or research group
consisting the TEs and PTs. In this context, the TEs with this
conception experienced teaching as a way of persuasion for
altering initial thinking systems of learners in the presence of
data collection, analysis and interpretation processes to generate
“I think pre-service teachers’ in-depth learning of topics is similar
to our processes of sense-making or science-making. That
means learning something means researching into it. The more
their processes are similar to our processes, the better they
can learn something. I think science, learning and research are
closely linked.” (Elementary Science Teacher Education, Male;
A teacher educator specified another aspect of the Conception-
4 as learning or teaching by collectively doing science
instead of doing lesson. He was of the idea that learning processes
of the PTs resemble to the learning processes of, for
instance, professional social scientists as teacher educators.
Thus, this participant experienced the learning process as
engaging in scientific investigation processes thus university-
based teaching should be designed and implemented as a
research-based activity. As he mentioned that there should
be a close interrelation between doing science, learning and
research and more importantly these overlapped processes
cannot be separated from teaching university science, as the
Conception-5: Teaching as creating a pedagogical toolkit
For this conception level, the TEs provided the most sophisticated
externalisations about teaching and learning. To
describe, the TEs with this conception apprehended teaching
as a way of continuously forming and revising a teaching repertoire
by dynamically creating the content-specific pedagogical
content knowledge. To be clear, the TEs with this conception
experienced teaching as transforming knowledge into more
teachable parts for the sake of the student-led understanding
For this pedagogical purpose, the TEs explicated the interwoven
parts of their teaching profession as being knowledgeable
about initial conceptions or misunderstandings of PTs about
for instance an educational phenomenon. More importantly,
the TEs with this conception saw themselves as curriculum
technicians to generate content-specific teaching approaches,
strategies or representations in proliferating teachable
moments in the classroom for the university-based teaching.
The TEs with this conception held an understanding that there
are some particular contents that should be negotiated and
elaborated by means of data collection, analysis and interpretation.
Beyond, apart from the questionable university-based
contents, there are also straightforward contents that can be
directly conveyed to PTs. Thus, the TEs with this conception
seemed to make a lesson-based or topic-based categorisation
of contents as either requiring an interthinking accompanied
by the argumentative dialogues between the TEs and PTs or
through internally persuasive monologues created and presented
by the TEs. In this context, the TEs with this conception
seemed not to experience teaching as a way by separating
subject-centred (teacher-centred) modes of teaching from the
skill-centred (learner-centred) modes of instruction. Indeed,
the TEs with this conception held an understanding about
developing teaching processes in a combined, systematic and
pragmatist manner that can be arranged by nature and structure
of contents to be taught.
“The contents of some courses can be prepared in a context-
based manner. I mean, some topics can have more contact
with daily life. When this is the case, learners can learn
better. In other words, we should transform the context by
taking some specific contexts into account. That doesn’t mean
we completely change the content. For example, I refer to
Olympic games while teaching something pertaining probability
phenomenon. In Olympic games, the participants must be
randomly checked to ensure that the athletes do not receive
doping. The learners work in a real context of the subject of
probability when doing mathematical calculations. There are
many examples like this. When you ponder about different
subjects, you may find something different.” (Primary Mathematics
Education, Male; participant-33).
A participant from primary mathematics education department
provided a concrete example how he created his analytically-
oriented parts of his pedagogical toolkit in teaching
particular subjects of mathematics. He stated about the contextualising
the subjects while tutoring. He presented a very
specific teaching sequence instance to demonstrate how he
contextualised probability phenomenon by referring to the
Olympic games’ rationality while handling with doping control
processes. As he mentioned, in order to show the statistical
power of random incidents to control over a community’s
decisions (in this example athlete community), he referred
Olympic games as his students tried to acquire background
mathematics of probability by attributing to a recontextualised
To show the structural relationships (relatedness, overlapped
positions of the reported conceptions) between the conceptions
of teaching, outcome space was created (Table 3
hierarchical levels emerged and from Level 1 to Level 4 there
was an incremental inclusivity of awareness regarding teaching
phenomenon. Table 3
also displays the focused dimensions of
the phenomenon. Conception-1 and Conception-2 are placed
within Level-1. The TEs with Conception-1 incorporated only teacher into instructional processes. The TEs with Conception-1
restricted their conceptions to only the teacher. This finding
is compatible with Leon-Carillo’s (2007) knowledge-source
concept, Fox’s (1983) transferring concept, Gurney’s (1995)
delivery concept or Hadar’s (2009) school learning concept.
The TEs with Conception-1 excluded PTs from instructional
sequences by imparting knowledge and requesting to recall
atomised information and this knowledge transmission modes
of teaching were also detected in other studies (Dall’Alba 1991;
Martin & Balla 1991; Pratt 1992; Samuelowicz & Bain 2001).
Within Conception-1, the TEs’ expressions were gathered
around delivering sophisticated knowledge that can be transcended
by the PTs to the other fields of everyday routines.
There were emphases on the future use of the knowledge
within Conception-1. However, that knowledge is transferred
to the less knowledgeable others and not constructed or transformed
by PTs. Equivalent results were also reported in other
studies (e.g. Pratt 1992; Samuelowicz & Bain 2001).
At the Level-1, Conception-2 was appeared as a rather amorphous
conception (Tondeur et al. 2008; van Driel, Bulte & Verloop
2007) since the TEs with Conception-2 put the PTs into the
instructional sequences by excluding themselves or put themselves
into the instructional streaming by ignoring the voices of
the PTs. The TEs with Conception-2 seemed to perceive learner-
centred teaching as a teaching approach in which a teacher’s
instructional liabilities are minimalised and even removed.
For the TEs with Conception-2, teaching is something that is
undertaken by learners and it may be viable in the absence
of the teacher. This can be conceived as a misunderstanding
of the participatory TEs with Conception-2. To sum up, at the
Level-1, the TEs’ conceptions are either teacher-centred or
amorphous and seemed not to incorporate any concrete traces
of other side’s (the PTs) intellectual contributions.
For Level-2, the TEs focused on the necessity of teacher-student
intellectual interactions for teaching. Moreover, the TEs
with Conception-3 (Table 3) put emphasis on student-student
interactions in describing their teaching. The teacher-student
and student-student exchanges signify the directionality of the
discursive exchanges that was reported by other studies either
as one-way (from teacher to students) or two-way to negotiate
meaning (e.g., Samuelowicz & Bain 1992). In this study, apart from other studies, there was more emphases on the student-
student verbal exchanges through student-led criticisms,
legitimisations, evaluations and judgments on the alternative
ways of thinking proposed as in the form of claims by different
The TEs with Conception-3 seemed to make a distinction
between misconceptions and alternative conceptions of the
PTs that modify their teaching practices. Actually, the TEs with
Conception-3 advocated the idea that alternative/spontaneous
preconceptions of PTs regarding the topic under consideration
are not equal to misconceptions. The TEs did not conceive the
PTs’ alternative, incomplete or spontaneous conceptions as in
the form of misconceptions. This conception of teaching can
be attached to Vygotskian-based teaching (Vygotsky 1978;
1981). In a sense, the TEs with Conception-3 distinguished
spontaneous conceptions and formalised (scientific) conceptions.
According to the TEs with this conception, the spontaneous
conceptions of the PTs are developed through everyday
experience and communication and are formed aside from any
process aimed specifically at mastering them. As the TEs with
this conception believed that university-based or scientific
concepts can be formed through formal instruction as “the
birth of the scientific concept begins not with an immediate
encounter with things but with a mediated relationship to the
object” (Vygotsky, 1987). In other studies, more learner-centred
educators defined their teaching as preventing students
from misunderstandings or misconceptions (e.g., Samuelowicz
& Bain 2001). This argument is not valid for the results of the
current study since the TEs with Conception-3 assigned a pedagogical
value to alternating thinking systems to rearrange the
streaming of the instructional sequences.
According to the TEs with Conception-3, alternating thinking
systems must be first considered, then should be modified
or elaborated through negotiations of meanings to reach an
intellectual consensus. The TEs with Conception-3 externalised
ways of modifying or extending PTs’ spontaneous conceptions.
According to the TEs, one of the instrumental ways of coping
with alternating conceptions is to present internally persuasive
assertions to them (Mortimer & Scott 2003). In a sense, not
only the TEs but also the PTs must be responsible for modifying
each other’s differentiating thinking to get somewhere as an intellectual consensus (Engle & Conant 2002). The TEs
with Conception-3 seemed to experience teaching as a kind of
socially validated system.
The TEs’ conceptions seemed to be substantially related with
the Vygotskian meaning making. The TEs with Conception-3
seemed to believe that teaching or meaning making is a dialogic
process. In the Vygotskian sense, meaning-making of a
phenomenon can be attained in two planes (Vygotsky 1978):
interpsychological (social plane) and intrapsychological (cognitive
plane). On the interpsychological plane, a teacher and
students can rehearse and perform various social languages by
diverse semiotic mechanisms (symbols, diagrams, graphics) as
in the forms of speech genres. On the intrapsychological plane,
following the internalisation of the reproduced phenomena
among the group members, individual thinking as the appropriation
of the previously negotiated concepts for individualised
schemes is performed (Vygotsky 1978).
According to the TEs with Conception-3, interpsychological
processes are formed through contradiction-posing processes
that are mostly handled by the TEs. Moreover, intrapsychological
processes are relatively handled by the PTs when they
are involved in contradiction-solving processes by deliberately
evaluating, criticising, judging and legitimating their classmates’
Intramental processes of the PTs can be conceived as internalisations
or transformations of the socially validated thinking
for individualised uses. The PTs may appropriate socially negotiated
claims for individually-oriented uses and applications
(John-Steiner & Mahn 1996). However, both in this study and
other studies, internalisation or transformation processes of
the socially shared ideas have not been considered in a holistic
sense by the participants. In this study, the TEs with Conception-
3 made references to the social negotiations of meaning
by stressing on intermental plane through interthinking. In
related studies, acquired knowledge was divided into two
sections from the lens of the respondents: externally-oriented
and personalised constructs. In these studies (Bain et al.
1998; Kember 1997, Martin and Ramsden 1992), there was
a concrete division between internal (individual plane) and
external (social plane) or within and without. None of the
studies have fictionalised an interrelation between individual
plane and social plane. Thus, even though there were signs of
the Vygotskian meaning making among the clarifications of
the TEs with Conception-3, in a particular sense, individualised
transformations of the socially validated aspects as in the form
of internalisation were not adequately externalised.
For a broader documentation of teaching phenomenon, indicated
as Level-3 and Conception-4 (Table 3), the TEs depictured
teaching as a researched-based process. The TEs with Conception-
4 acknowledged the PTs as scholarly-oriented peers who
should be able to collect, analyse and interpret data. The TEs
with Conception-4 did not delimit co-constructivist teaching
by only referring to interpersonal negotiations of meaning.
Furthermore, for becoming more persuading, evidence-based
assertions should be created by the PTs.
In related studies, this type of teaching conception was portrayed
as encouraging knowledge creation (Dall’Alba 1991;
Martin & Balla 1991; Pratt 1992). The TEs with Conception-4
were of the idea that desired learning outcome of a teaching
process should be a visible change in ways of thinking about
topic under negotiation as revealed by other studies (Dall’Alba
1991; Martin & Balla 1991; Pratt 1992). By means of data gathering,
analysis and interpretation processes, it may be more
credible for the PTs to hold an interpretation of individualised
reality as termed by other studies (Bain et al. 1998; Martin
& Ramsden 1992). Moreover, if a way of persuading people
to shift their ideas is to invite them to criticise each other’s
claims, other is to promote the PTs for engaging in data-based
reasoning as confirmed by other studies with regards to TEs’
conceptions of teaching (Martin & Balla 1991; Pratt 1992;
Prosser, Trigwell, & Taylor 1994).
In this study, the broadest conception of teaching the TEs
reported was found as Conception-5 (Level-4, Table 3) including
externalisations about generating a dynamic and flexible
pedagogical toolkit for teaching. Within the expressions of
the TEs with Conception-5, there were several references to
Shulman’s (1986a) missing paradigm for teaching. In a sense,
the TEs with Conception-5 seemed to go beyond knowledge
of subject matter per se to the dimension of subject matter
knowledge for teaching.
One of the most salient point within the expressions of the
TEs with Conception-5 was that every topic may require a specific
approach of teaching. The clarifications of the TEs with
Conception-5 implied the relation between topic and teaching
methods for teaching that topic that displays epistemic prerequisites
in addition to psychological/pedagogical orientations.
To explicate the reported conceptions of the TEs in this category,
concept of learning demand (Scott 1998) can be barrowed.
It was clear in the clarifications of the TEs with Conception-5
that a predetermined topic can be analysed in terms of its
specific aspects that may require more dialogic transactions of
verbal thinking and may involve more monologic exchanges for
the topic’s specific aspects. This requires both an epistemological
and psychological interpretation in the sense of concept of
learning demand (Leach & Scott 2000).
The teaching and learning representations of the PTs are constructed,
communicated and validated within everyday culture
in which the PTs have been lived by. The PTs therefore come
to classrooms with their pre-ideas that can be more or less far
away from the scientific point of view that is expected to be
acquired by the PTs. A critical and closer analysis of a topic can
reveal communalities and differences between the everyday
notions of the PTs and scientific points of views. The greater
communality between two camps of thinkers-talkers’ thinking
and talking about, for instance, how to teach may signal a
direct lecturing or other kind of representational activity. To
advocate, there would be no epistemological gap between
the everyday and formalised (scientific) notions regarding
the topic under negotiation, for instance, school levels and
school-based organizations in the context of Turkish Education System as a straightforward piece of the content to be taught
(“Because the subject is clear, the student’s head is clear.” Table
On the other hand, same topic may include specific pieces
entailing greater epistemological and ontological gaps or
cognitive demands regarding developed notions between two
camps (PTs and TEs) of thinkers-talkers. To put it differently,
if everyday representations (of the PTs) of particular pieces of
phenomenon (e.g., how to teach) under negotiation are substantially
different from scientific representations or reasoning,
learning may prove difficult. When this is the case, more
dialogic teaching may be more of an issue in handling both
alternating notions of the PTs and formalised notions of scientific
communities. This may create a pedagogical-discursive
tension for the TEs when there are greater gaps between two
camps of thinkers and talkers’ conceptualisations regarding
a specific topic (“The discussion had been branching out and
become complicated. Enabling reconciliation was very difficult
in some moments. Even when consensus was not achieved, all
the students had targeted me by saying that I wrote wrong scenarios.”
Table 2; Conception-5). To explicate, in this discursive
journey, from everyday notions to scientific point of view, the
TEs are the often-hard-pressed tour mediating between PTs’
everyday verbal thinking and the thought and language of scientific
When this is the case, as reported by the TEs with Conception-
5, teaching is a rather sophisticated phenomenon requiring
a systematic and intentional combinations of dialogic and
monologic teaching by analysing learning demands that are
tacitly or overtly embedded in the diversified university-based
In conclusion, a continuum/spectrum was established by
deeply analysing reported teaching experiences of the TEs.
Outcome space confirms an increasing inclusivity of awareness
regarding teaching experiences of the TEs and a variance in
terms of conceptualisations of the experiences of teaching
moments. Within the TEs’ teaching conceptions both potential
for uniformity and potential for variation were emerged. The
TEs clarified both knowledge-transmission modes of teaching
and broader styles of teaching as knowledge co-construction
(e.g., creating pedagogical toolkit in response to learning
demands with regards to more or less cognitive gaps regarding
In the study, it was comprehended that, a participatory teacher
educator might have greater interpretations incorporating
mostly contemporary views of learning and teaching, for
instance, Vygotskian-based paradigm. However, as the participatory
TEs’ colleagues, and careful observers of their lecturing
processes, we, as the researchers, have to and should admit
that broader conceptualisations have not reflected to in-class
teaching. In other words, the researchers have frequently
observed during their academic life till now that there has
been an incongruity between the reported teaching concepts and in-class pedagogical decisions/actions. There may be
countless reasons of the incongruity thesis such as contextual
barriers, technical obstacles or student-led traits in addition to
teacher-led factors. Thus, as a further research initiation, there
must be closer interrogations of the conceptions and actions
of TEs in a reflective context to find out the overarching rules
governing congruity and incongruity conditions.
It has been well accepted that TEs may not develop an understanding
and consciousness regarding their teaching conceptions,
their effects on PTs’ intellectual and pedagogical outcomes
and contradictions between reported conceptions and
enacted actions. To construct a tangible meta-awareness for
TEs, they may (should) be involved in deliberately designed and
implemented professional development programs. Following
Schon’s (1983; 1987) recommendations, during professional
development processes, in educating a reflective practitioner,
TEs may make self-reflections on multi-layered aspects of
developed conceptions and enacted actions to systematically
observe and evaluate their conception-action dichotomies for
being excellent in university-based teaching. Methodologically,
mentioned awareness and conception-action congruity may be
more viable through stimulated-recall sessions as the core part
of several self-reflective professional development attempts
Limitations of the Study
This study aimed at depicting the TEs’ conceptions of teaching
in the sense of university-based context. As all research studies
incorporates, the current study also includes some methodological
restrictions. The researchers of the current study
operated a convenient sampling strategy for some technical
issues and this negatively affected the generalizations of the
research outcomes for other contexts. To our knowledge, even
though qualitatively-oriented studies do not aim to generalise
reached findings, external readers can internalise or generalise
findings from a research process. In other words, in the qualitative
researches similar to this, not the researchers but the
external readers may make the generalisations to consider,
compare, contrast and juxtapose their own context and the
context in which a qualitative research is carried out. However,
as a limitation of the study, most of the teacher educators
were research assistants (n=19) as well as assistant professors
(n=13), thus only these group of educators may generalise the
findings of the study to their own contexts. In addition, this
study was conducted for only teacher educators. To expand
our vision pertaining teaching in the context of higher education,
other faculties’ educators should be included in that type
of research processes.
This study was conducted with the cooperation and support
of Istanbul Aydýn University Higher Education Studies Application
and Research Center (HESARC). We are grateful to Dear
Prof. Dr. Hamide ERTEPINAR (the director of HESARC) for her
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