Research Article: The Artistic and Professional Development of Teachers

Research Article: The Artistic and Professional Development of Teachers

The study discussed is dedicated to the problem of the artistic and professional development of teachers. Since the beginning of the study the author attempts to define the main objective of the study stating that the main objective is to understand the effectiveness of professional development programs of teachers from teachers’ point of view. However, it is worthy of mention that the purpose, being clearly stated, seems to be a bit abstract, at least such a definition implies basically qualitative analysis and research that actually contradicts to the quantitative analysis that was amply used further in the study.
Obviously, the problem researched by Narry Oreck is very important, especially in the current situation, when the role of arts is often underestimated and their potential is not fully used by teachers either for their professional development or in their professional work in educative purposes. This particular study will be quite useful not only from theoretical point of view but also from practical one since the author provides several specific recommendations for teachers’ professional development.
As for the introduction, basically, it is well organized and structure. The author attempts to trace the background of the problem discussed in the research and underlines its significance. At the same time, Barry Oreck refers to previous researchers and states the basic goal of the current study.
However, it is worthy of mention that the literature review contains information that is not very up-to0date. To put it more precisely, the author uses literature sources which are quite distanced in time from the present days. As a result, along with relatively recent researches dating back to late 1990s, for instance, Wiggins 1998, the author also refers to the studies which date backs two or ore decades ago. Remarkably, he even refers to the experience of Dewey (1934) that may be quite relevant today but still the use of more recent researches would make the importance of the current research and its actuality more significant.
Nonetheless, it is important to underline that the author amply refers to the primary sources rather than to other articles that indicates to the fact that Barry Oreck really attempts to conduct a study independent from other contemporary researches and the lack of more recent references indirectly supports this presupposition. At the same time, such a focus on primary sources makes it possible to speak about the intention of the author to support his research with evidences related to the primary sources and not just use other articles that would make research less authentic, original and unique.
On making a review, the author does not seem to tend to a profound critical analysis of the literature discussed. Instead, he rather attempts to demonstrate that the problem the study is focused on is really important and the review mainly represents the summary of the main achievements and findings in this filed till the moment when Barry Oreck has launched his own study. Anyway, even according to the author, he is more concerned not on the assessment but rather on the understanding of the problem he researches in his study.
In general, the review is well organized since the author attempts to chronologically trace the evolution of the problem of the research, notably the use of art in the professional development of teachers, though as for the latest data they are obviously omitted intentionally since the author provides his own research of this problem using the latest collected data.
In fact, the author attempts to use the previously conducted researches on the problem as the basis for his present research. At the same time, he uses the previous research in order to represent the problem of the artistic and professional development of teacher as a continuous process so that the current research turns to be a logical continuation of the past experience and is supposed to modify the existing views on the problem and adapt them to the modern conditions.
Obviously, one of the main purposes of the literature review within the discussed research is to underline the importance of the problem and its relevance at the present days. It should be pointed out that the author, on reviewing different works of different epochs, emphasizes that this problem was important in the past and its significance is maintained till the present epoch.
Basically, the problem is clearly stated and precisely defined since the author targets at the gathering data and information concerning teachers’ attitude and practices of art use in their professional development and work. However, the author also makes an assumption that with the help of this research it will be possible to strengthen the link between the professional development of teachers and the use of arts in their practices.
In fact, such a hypothesis is relevant to the literature review since the author repeatedly underline that arts were constantly used in the professional development of teachers though he underlines that its significance may be weaken in recent years and this is actually why he conducts the study that can help better understand the importance and significance of arts in the professional development of modern teachers.
The problem discussed by the author, being very important, mainly communicates the variable sand types of research. However, it is worthy of mention that such a variable as ethnicity, for instance, was not included in the research as the author believed that this variable would make the prediction unstable because the subjects basically represented white ethnic group. As for the types of the research, the current study represents a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, though judging from the goals set by Barry Oreck it was possible to presuppose that qualitative analysis would be prior to quantitative, but in actuality, the research is characterized by the contrary trend.
Nevertheless, the problem raised by the author at the beginning of his study remains unchangeable and he does not reformulate it, insisting that his study is focused on the factors that contribute to the art use and make them essential and in such a way, the researcher attempts to understand what the role of arts in professional development of teachers is from the point of view of teachers.
As for the population, it should be said that the researcher carefully describes it and, what is more, he tends to take into consideration various factors that may influence the results of the research under the impact of population. This is why he depicts the population in details paying attention to different factors such as professional experience, gender, ethnicity, etc.
The same may be said about sampling of subjects, participants and the general information. However, it is worthy of mention that the response rate was quite low and this is why it is possible to speak about certain under-representation of the respondents.
Speaking about the method of selecting of sample is relatively clear and, apparently, the author tends to research the problem at large since he attempts to collect data from teachers working at the same grade level representing different schools, including urban, suburban and rural. However, it is necessary to underline that it is not very clear, for instance, what is the share of each group of teachers in the general amount of teachers involved in the research. In other words, it is not clear whether the representation was proportion or probably urban, suburban or rural teachers were dominating, or unequally represented. Similarly, some ethnic groups are also under-represented, as it has been already mentioned above.
Naturally, such method of selection as well as any other would inevitably affect the results of the research. In fact, regardless the fact that some points of selecting samples remain unclear, the method of selection used makes it possible to influence the results of the research. For instance, ethnic under-representation is not practically taken into consideration, while it may be an important factor influencing the result of the research at large. The same may be said about whether urban, suburban and rural school teachers were proportionally represented.
It is also worthy of mention that a part of the subjects of the research seem to be likely to give biased responses since, along with public schools classroom teachers there were also involved specialists working in gifted, arts, and special education. Obviously the latter category, i.e. specialists working in gifted, arts, and special education would be more likely to give biased responses since they are more concerned on the use of arts in their professional development and practice, while for public school teachers this may be a sort of problem they did not get used to work on.
Basically, the evidence for validity and reliability of the research are amply presented, but it should be said that some variables are not adequately represented, in this respect, it is worthy of mention the variable of ethnicity which is treated by the researcher as unpredictable, or else the low overall response rate makes it possible to presuppose that the respondents were not representative.
Furthermore, the author clearly depicts the instrument he used I his research and how it was used. To put it more precisely, he clearly presents what sort of data and the ways of their collection along with the providing information concerning how the validity of the research was tested.
As a result, it is possible to estimate that the author has managed to clearly describe the procedures for collecting information providing opportunity to trace how information concerning each of the three questions posed was collected.
At the same time, it should be said that the validity and reliability of the responses and data collected, being not perfect, seems to be quite sufficient to estimate that the responses were not fake. At any rate, the low response rate indicates to the fact that the respondents, even though they were probably not representative, gave sincere responses. Otherwise, if the rate of response was extremely high, the probability of fake responses would more likely to increase since it would be possible to presuppose that the responses were less sincere.
The interviewers and observers were carefully selected and trained in order to increase the reliability of the research and data collected.
Speaking about the norms used to report results, it should be said that the results were presented into stages. The first stage consisted of 23 attitude items while the second consisted of 8 frequency-of-use items.
In general, the study may be viewed as quite good and the weaknesses of the current study are very few. In this respect, it is worthy of mention that among the most evident weaknesses of the study may be named the fact that there is quite a high risk that the respondents of the study were under-represented and, thus, there may appear certain doubts in the objectivity, validity and reliability of the results. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that there are also certain problems with ethnic variable as well as the representation of teachers from urban, suburban and rural schools is also not very clearly presented in the research that also may affect the results of the study.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that the procedures for collecting information are presented in details though it would be probably better if the information concerning the interviewers and observers would be presented more widely so that it would be possible to fully assess their actual level and not just rely on empirical data and statements of the researcher.
Speaking about the researcher himself, in actuality, it is possible to argue about the extent to which he could be objective in his research since he directed arts in education programs in more than 150 New York City public schools. This is why it is possible to presuppose that he may be biased in his research. Being closely related to the use of arts in education, Barry Oreck would, in all probability, be convinced beforehand in the necessity of wide implementation of arts in the professional development of teachers.
The current study looks like predominantly quantitative, while, in order to make it more qualitative, it is possible to recommend using the literature dedicated to the problem discussed which refers not only to the past experience but also to the present situation. At the same time, the wider use of secondary sources could be quite effective, while the use of numerous statistical data and tables would be unnecessary in the qualitative analysis.
In fact, the professional judgment is very important and inevitably affects the contribution of the study. At the same time, it is necessary to make possibly more objective assessment of the study that means that it is necessary to distance from purely professional view on the study and analyze in a socio-cultural context.
As for the literature, it is possible to recommend using more recent researches and studies in order to make it possible to compare the current study and its results to other contemporary ones.
In actuality, the first question seems to imply quite a biased response since it actually focuses teachers’ attention on the necessity and importance of using arts.
Basically, the sampling could limit the study since it does not involve absolutely all categories of potential respondents and, what is more, even those involved in the research are not always adequately represented.
Instead, the wider sampling, including the involvement of larger number of teachers, for instance, with different ethnic background, or teacher who are not related directly to arts education could increase the rate of survey return since they would be more interested in the problem that may be new for them.
The pure calculating of means would not provide the adequate understanding of the necessity of the use of arts in professional development of teachers but rather represented the extent to which arts were widely used.
Basically, recommendations given by the author match the data but, it seems as if they are too focused on the necessity to use arts and seems to be unarguable from the author’s point of view.
The second question should be more focused on the personal experience and motivation of teachers to use arts without direct reference to purely statistical data concerning the frequency of the use of arts.
Basically, the qualitative findings indicate to the necessity and actual effectiveness of the wide use of arts, while quantitative finding reveal the respondents are under-represented.
At the same time, the more effective use of quantitative data could increase the credibility of qualitative ones, if the overall response rate was high, for instance.
In the case of enlargement of qualitative component, it would be possible to get more opinionated information supported not by quantitative findings but reflection and qualitative arguments.

Bibliography:

1. Oreck, Barry. (2004). THE ARTISTIC AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS A STUDY OF TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARD AND USE OF THE ARTS IN TEACHING. Retrieved April 20 from http://www.sagepub.com/eis/Oreck.pdf
2. Oreck, B. (2001). Teaching with the arts survey. Unpublished survey instrument. University of Connecticut at Storrs.
3. Oreck, B. (2000). The arts in teaching: An investigation of factors influencing teachers’ use of the arts in the classroom. Doctoral dissertation, University of Connecticut, Storrs.