n South African Journal of Higher Education - 'Theory' for teacher practice : a typology of application tasks in teacher education

Volume 27, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Debates about the relation between educational theory and teaching practice are embodied in assessment tasks that prompt student teachers to relate theoretical concepts and simulated or directly experienced practice-based contexts in relation to one another. To establish clarity on the ways in which theory and practice can be positioned in relation to one another in application tasks, the authors revisit the debate between Hirst and Carr (2005) about the role of theory in and for education. They analyse examples of assessment tasks according to a typology showing how such tasks demarcate conceptual and contextual objects of study in ways that are more or less visible to students. They argue that the more visibly the concepts are demarcated, the greater the possibilities are for student teachers to develop systematised bodies of educational knowledge that are able to provide organising insights into their developing practice. While the authors concede that there might be valid pedagogical reasons for doing so, they argue that when conceptual objects are less visible to students, the underlying message that is transmitted to students is that educational theory is neither specialised knowledge nor is it distinctively different from their common-sense perspectives. This approach is less likely to promote their acquisition of systematised knowledge for and of practice.

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