Despite my desire, becoming a teacher of physical education is becoming increasingly more difficult. Places on PGDE University courses are more limited than ever before, whilst permanent jobs within Scotland are becoming a rarity. Due to limited availability of permanent jobs, universities and employers are now looking for candidates with better credentials than ever before.
I will now look more closely at the positive and negative aspects of my credentials in relation to the needs of a career in teaching physical education and how I am progressing toward my career aspiration. By evaluating my credentials I will look to justify my chosen area of development. Finally, I will look at how my forthcoming placement can help me improve my chosen area of development and therefore progress toward my career aspiration.
In order to see where I currently sit in terms of fulfilling the entry requirements and criteria asked of my desired career path, I carried out a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis (Cottrell, 2003). This allowed me to evaluate both the positive and negative aspects of my credentials, in turn, helping me to decipher an area which I felt needed more work and attention. I decided, as a result, that I require more experience within the secondary school environment. More specifically I need to familiarise myself with, the new curriculum which is currently being employed within schools throughout Scotland, entitled: Curriculum for Excellence. The area of development described was decided taking into account the SMART-F target setting acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound and Flexible (Cottrell, 2003).
In order to justify my choice area of development, I will now analysise my strengths and weaknesses in relation to the current needs and requirements attributed to the role of a physical education teacher.
According to BASES (2010), employers of physical education teachers will typically request the completion of relevant teaching programme. This usually comes in the form of a relevant undergraduate four-year course in addition to a one year postgraduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) completed after your degree. This is certainly the case for all council schools in Scotland.
In order to get a place on a PGDE course BASES (2010) suggest the normal requirements would be the completion of a relevant undergraduate degree at 2:1 level. All places offered in Scottish universities also require SQA Higher English at level C or above to be attained. In addition, university course leaders may also place additional conditions when offering course places. The most common of these conditions is the gaining of teaching and school based experience before joining the course.
The gaining of relevant coaching qualifications may also be highlighted if areas of weakness or gaps in relevant subject knowledge are identified. Other useful skills include: good and adaptable communication skills, reliability, friendliness, team-working skills, enthusiasm, motivational skills and patience.
In relation to these requirements my SWOT analysis makes clear that there are elements of criteria I am placed well to fulfil and others I need more work on. On a positive note, I have already attained a level B in SQA Higher English. I have also already received a general degree in sports coaching. Although a general degree alone will not be enough to gain a PGDE course place, I do believe a 2nd Class Degree is achievable and more likely to gain entry. However I have noted I don’t believe I have the ability to achieve a 1st Class Degree which may affect my chances, if other candidates are able to achieve this level.
In addition to my Degree and Higher English, I have also gained an SFA Level 1 Early Touches Certificate which is a relevant qualification to the physical education teaching profession. Although I consider this one of my strengths, the lack of other relevant qualifications may also be considered a weakness.
Furthermore, other skills which BASES (2010) note as important such as communication and team working skills are aspects which I believe to be my strengths. Another strength which I believe to be particularly important is my I.T. Skills. Donnelly (2002) highlights the ever growing impact that information technology is having in the teaching profession, suggesting that learning and teaching will be centred around technology.
Conversely, it is also clear that, of the important additional conditions that may be applied to PGDE course places, secondary school based experience is a particular weakness of mine, having only completed one placement. Most of the teaching experience which I do have has been gained through my initial school placement provided by Active Schools and these focused solely on Primary Schools. Although the primary school placements provided me with a good grounding in terms of teaching experience. The need is apparent in terms of gaining experience with secondary school aged children. I think it is also important to note that not only is it important to become experienced with the varying ages of children in secondary school, it is also important to become aware of the varying levels of maturity displayed by children in secondary schools. I myself can remember fellow pupils of the same age from my time in secondary school that were far more immature. Gaining experience in both areas will enhance my knowledge and ability in terms of delivering appropriate content and displaying a certain teaching style to certain groups.
Tying with my lack of experience, another weakness which is detailed in my SWOT analysis is my lack of knowledge and experience of the new curriculum being employed within Scottish education: Curriculum for Excellence. Scottish education is currently undergoing radical change with the introduction of a “3-18 forward looking, coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum providing Scotland’s children and young people with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century” (LTScotland, 2010). Having received advice from universities where I may potentially gain a PGDE place, the importance of gaining knowledge and an understanding of the new curriculum cannot be underestimated.
Having addressed some of my main strengths and weaknesses it is important to look at how the opportunities listed in my SWOT analysis may help me in realising my career aspirations, along with addressing my area of development.
The most valuable and relevant opportunity listed in my SWOT analysis is the twenty four hour placement provided by Abertay University. The nature of the placement is to be solely decided by myself, which will allow me to arrange a something which is completely relevant to my needs. I will be looking to place myself within a secondary school, preferably a school which is proactive in their approach to Curriculum for Excellence. This will allow me to work on many of the issues identified such as, gaining experience of secondary school environments along with developing an understanding of the new curriculum. Furthermore, it will also provide me the opportunity to build my knowledge in relevant sports which I don’t have qualifications in.
In conclusion, I believe that I have chosen an appropriate area of development in relation to my career aspirations based on the strengths and weaknesses identified in my SWOT analysis. Due to the difficulty of acquiring both PGDE places and permanent P.E. teaching jobs the importance of using the opportunities identified to gain the experience of secondary school and new curriculum cannot be underestimated. It is essential that I strive to improve myself, particularly in the weak areas identified, if I am to fulfil my career aspirations.
References BASES. 2010. A guide to careers in sport and exercise sciences. The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences in association with Human Kinetics. 2010.
Cottrell, S.M. 2003. Skills for Success: The Personal Development Planning Handbook. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
Donnelly, J. 2002. Career development for teachers. Kogan Page Limited. London, UK, 2002
Goodlad JI and McMannon, TJ. 2004. The teaching career. Teachers College Press. New York, USA
LTScotland. 2010.Building a curriculum for excellence.
The Role Of Teacher in Written Feedback
Teacher written feedback plays an essential role in a student’s writing process. It helps students “identify their own strengths and weaknesses, which, in case of the latter, will make students know how to go about improving themselves and become effective writers” (Penaflorida, 2002, p. 364). According to Ferris (2002), teacher feedback, if addressed effectively, can also contribute to students’ overall second language acquisition.
Important as teacher written feedback is, there have been several studies comprehensively dealing with the issue. Even with those that do, there exists a lack of consensus over such matters as what aspects teacher feedback should focus on, which forms of feedback are preferable to students, etc.
In the context of teaching writing in Vietnam, few studies have been conducted on feedback in general and teacher written feedback in particular. The same situation could be seen at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities-Vietnam National University, Hanoi. In reality, neither an investigation into the current feedback giving practice nor students’ preferences for teacher written feedback has been carried out at the college. It is, therefore, an open question whether or not current teacher written feedback is beneficial to students at the college.
All the aforementioned reasons urge the author to carry out the research entitled “A study on teacher written feedback on 1st-year students’ writings at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities-Vietnam National University, Hanoi”. This study is an attempt to examine the real situation of teacher written feedback at the CSSH and to propose some suggestions for the betterment of the current practice. The yielded results is hoped to serve as a useful source of reference for those who concern about the subject matter.
I.2. Aims of the study This study is carried out with the aims to:
investigate the current practice of teacher written feedback on 1st year students’ writings at the CSSH-VNU
propose some recommendations for the betterment of teacher written feedback at the CSSH.
I.3. Research questions In order to achieve the abovementioned aims, the study will be conducted to answer two research questions:
In what ways is teacher written feedback given to the 1st-year-students’ writings at the CSSH – VNU?
What do 1st-year students at CSSH expect from teacher written feedback to make it more effective?
I.4. Scope of the study
The research will work on the current situation of teacher written feedback on the 1st-year student writings at CSSH-VNU. The subjects selected for this study are the 1st-year students who are studying English at college. Moreover, the research examines only teacher written feedback but not other types of feedback such as teacher-student conference or teacher taped comments, since teacher written feedback is the main type of feedback at the college.
Chapter II: Literature Review This chapter, which reviews the overall background concerning teacher written feedback, will serve as the foundations based on which the study is carried out.
II.1. Concept of teacher feedback in writing Concerning the matter of teacher feedback (or respond/commentary), there exist a vast number of definitions given by researchers. Keh (1990) considers feedback as “any input from a reader to a writer with the effect of providing information to the writer for revision” (p. 294). In other words, it is the comments, questions, and suggestions a reader gives a writer with the view to enhancing his/her writing.
The concept of feedback given by Joe (2006) is probably one of the most comprehensive one:
“Feedback is an inseparable and recursive component of both the teacher’s instruction and the writing process. It represents a sense of audience and purpose in forming the on-going writing process, while establishing a concept of collaborative reader-editor relationship between teacher and student. The feedback from the reader-editor appears as input for further reexamination and revision of the prior written work by providing optimum opportunities to develop and refine ideas, and may take various forms such as conference and interview.” (p. 53)
This concept is considered the most thorough one that covers almost aspects of teacher feedback, namely, the positions of feedback in writing instruction and writing process, the relation of student-teacher in process writing, the forms of feedback, and the role of feedback in a writing process. Its thought will, therefore, be used thorough this study.
II. 2. Role of teacher written feedback As mentioned above, teacher feedback plays an essential role in a writing process. The importance of teacher feedback can be aptly summed by Straub (1996) “It is how we receive and respond to student writing that speaks loudest in our teaching” (p.246).
In the absence of a face to face verbal writing conference, written response is the only way in which teacher can respond to the individual needs of students. It is via the comments on their writing that students can “identify their own strengths and weaknesses, which, in the case of the latter, will make the students know how to go about improving themselves and become effective writers” (Penaflorida, 2002, p. 346). Therefore, feedback is considered, first of all, a pedagogical tool that helps enhance students’ writing competence.
Moreover, according to Ressor, teacher feedback is believed to provide students with not only the incentive to improve but also the guidance about how to improve (as cited in Vengadasamy, 2002). Feedback, in this sense, adopts another function; that is, stimulating and motivating student to write.
II.3. Features of good teacher written feedback What constitutes good teacher written feedback is a complicated issue. There is little consensus among researchers over the matter as in reality, different individuals may prefer different types of feedback. While some people enjoy negative and direct feedback, other may feel discouraged by the same feedback. Therefore, it is normal to see different sets of criteria for good teacher written feedback.
According to Coffin et al. (2003, p. 101), three vital elements of a good feedback are ‘positive comment’, ‘criticism’ and ‘suggestion for improvements’. The coexistence of ‘positive comment’ and ‘criticism’, according to Ferris