UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Practical reasoning and teacher education La Bar, Caroline Mary


In this thesis it is argued that the constituents of practical reasoning are necessary for good teaching; as such, the study of practical reasoning would be a valuable addition to teacher education programs. Practical reasoning is basically reasoning about what should be done. In Chapter II a conception of practical reasoning developed by Jerrold Coombs is outlined. This conception, which includes a variety of abilities, dispositions and sensitivities, as well as knowledge about a number of concepts and distinctions, is used throughout chapters III and IV to illustrate its value in typical teaching activities. These typical teaching activities are divided into two categories, using a distinction conceived by Thomas Green. Green has described teaching as a "practical activity" which consists of perhaps hundreds of single different activies. He divides these activities into three categories: 1) logical acts (for example, explaining, concluding, inferring, giving reasons); 2) strategic acts (motivating, planning, evaluating, disciplining); and 3) institutional acts (taking attendance, keeping reports, consulting parents). Institutional acts, he says, are not necessary to the activity of teaching. However, both logical and strategic acts are "...indispensable to the conduct of teaching wherever and whenever it is found (Green, 1975, p. 5). Furthermore, he argues that "Teaching can be improved by improving either kind of activity, but it cannot be excellent without attention to both (ibid., p. 8)." In Chapter III, I have illustrated how practical reasoning would improve the logical acts of teaching and in Chapter IV I have argued that practical reasoning would improve the strategic acts. Chapter V includes a summary of the major argument and concludes with some suggestions about how to develop teachers practical reasoning abilities and dispositions.

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