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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Focusing on the object of learning and the critical aspects : a case study of teacher candidates applying variation theory Miechie


In an attempt to bridge the theory and practice gap in teacher education, this study employed a learning study approach as a platform for teacher candidates to learn about variation theory. This study investigated teacher candidates’ experiences in applying variation theory in lesson planning and explored how teacher candidates identify the object of learning and the critical aspects. In groups of four to five, 27 teacher candidates participated in a learning study and worked collaboratively to plan science lessons either on the topic of genetics and cell division (biology) or rate of reaction (chemistry). The lesson planning was framed using variation theory. Guided by a descriptive case study approach, variation theory was employed as the theoretical framework and phenomenography was the methodological approach. Data sources included the teacher candidates’ lesson plans, the researcher’s field notes, and participant interviews. Data analysis included the construction of individual profiles of the teacher candidates, followed by a construction of three categories of description that build on each other. Arranged in increasing complexity, the categories included: (1) Analysing content knowledge in order to develop a coherent learning plan; (2) Reflecting on personal experiences and beliefs about teaching and learning; and (3) Developing knowledge about students and their prior knowledge as informed by external resources. These categories captured the different ways the teacher candidates identified the object of learning and the critical aspects during their lesson planning. The findings revealed the complex nature of this critical stage of planning a lesson based on variation theory.

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