Five academic papers all teachers need to read

This blog post is a quick summary of five of the academic papers that have most influenced me in my development as a teacher, and I would heartily recommend all five to other teachers. I do not always agree with every single thing written in these papers (although I generally do agree with the overall thrust of their argument), but I have found these papers useful springboards to further thought, and, for those of you who read my blog regularly, you will no doubt see how my posts resonate with the ideas in these five papers.

All of these papers are behind pay-walls, but most (if not all) can be found for free online with a little searching.

(1) P. Hirst, ‘What is teaching?’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 3.1, (1971)

I like this paper for its clarity, setting out on a conceptual analysis of the term ‘teaching’. It is a particularly useful article for determining what makes teaching different from other forms of activity.

(2) S. Bailin, R. Case, J.R. Coombs & L.B. Daniels, ‘Common misconceptions of critical thinking’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31.3, (1999)

I cite this paper a lot, not least because it takes a hatchet to common definitions of ‘critical thinking’.

(3) P.A. Kirschner, J. Sweller & R.E. Clark, ‘Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching’, Educational Psychologist, 41.2, (2006)

What is most impressive about this paper is its sheer scope and the clarity of its conclusions. There are those who agree and disagree strongly with those conclusions, but that tells us that – unlike a great many papers written about education – this one is propositional and forthright.

(4) E. Rata, ‘The politics of knowledge in education’, British Educational Research Journal, 38.1, (2012)

This is a good example of the importance of maintaining a distinction between everyday experience and theoretical knowledge. It captures nicely the current ‘social realist’ movement in the sociology of education.

(5) H. McEwan and B. Bull, ‘The pedagogical nature of subject matter knowledge’, American Educational Research Journal, 28.2, (1991)

This paper is perhaps a little leftfield, and I do not agree with every part of it, but I like its emphasis on the deep relationship scholarship and teaching.

11 Comments on Five academic papers all teachers need to read

  1. Michael Fordham // 12 August 2015 at 13:44 // Reply

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  2. The Quirky Teacher // 12 August 2015 at 20:36 // Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together, as I am always at a loss where to find good papers to consolidate my traditional standpoint, now I can have a good read and feel a bit vindicated (when surrounded by progressive proponents, this gives me comfort).

  3. Reblogged this on From experience to meaning… and commented:
    Glad to notice I’ve read 3 out of 5 already (and written a book with one of the authors of one of the 5 papers 🙂 ).

  4. Reblogged this on Blogcollectief Onderzoek Onderwijs and commented:
    Speciaal voor leraren!

  5. Mika Letonsaari // 18 August 2015 at 14:42 // Reply

    4/5 of the articles are behind paywall, only one available freely. 😦

  6. teacherasresearcher // 19 August 2015 at 07:42 // Reply

    While many teaching staffs in higher education are teachers, they seldom apply their scientific attitudes of reading in reading education-related literature…

  7. Michael,
    Thanks for seeing our article as one of your 5 “must reads”. I’m totally honoured! Along with my thanks.

  8. Reblogged this on Technologically Speaking and commented:
    I like all the suggested readings here. Fantastic to have a discussion forum on this to see how different people see the same articles from different perspectives.

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