Understanding moral authorship of novice teachers in primary education

Duration: September 2013 - September 2017 (August 2018)
Status: on going 
Research centre: Learning and Innovation
Lectorate: Normative Professionalization
Lector: Prof. dr. C. Bakker
Researchers: Drs. Rob Gertsen
Url website project: www.moralautorship.com

Project description

This PhD research aims to provide scientific knowledge and insight regarding the development of the moral performance of beginning teachers (young adult) and to contribute to a knowledge base for the moral task of teachers, conceptualized as Moral Authorship. The questionnaire for self-assessment of moral authorship is meant to support teacher training courses and the professional development of teachers.

Scientific relevance

Moral authorship and the narrative approach of this research establishes a relationship between novice teachers narratives, their practical knowledge and the development of novice teachers' professional identity. In the education research literature, there is a broad consensus that the teachers' profession can be characterised as fundamentally moral (Sanger, 2003). During the last few years Dutch research on teachers learning addresses the influence of non-rational factors on the actions of teachers in training. Novice teachers regularly rely on unconscious aspects of their teaching, like moral dispositions en emotional navigation, which in many cases prove to be ineffective and in post-reflection are found undesirable (Dolk, 1997; Korthagen & Kessels, 1999; Johnson, 2008; Ballet & Kelchtermans, 2005; Admiral, 1994). Elbaz (1991) indicates that the non-linear and holistic knowledge of teachers has steeped in personal meanings and largely implicit (tacit) practical knowledge. Korthagen and Lagerwerf (1996) conclude strictly logical thinking usually is not the most appropriate tool for solving problems that teachers have to cope with moral issues in their work. Narrative inquiry has the potential to mediate implicit and explicit understanding of moral issues and moral authorship (Narvaez, 1998, Tappan, 2010; Baxter Magolda, 2008). 

Practical relevance

In the past two decades, there has been a growing concern in politics and schools to pay more attention to the 'norms and values debate'; this is expected in a the context where teachers are confronted with a broader increase in pedagogical duties, which is complicated by a - at the same time - increasing uncertainty about the teachers' authority related to the students' autonomy (Klaassen & Maslovaty, 2010; van Wieringen, 2003; Doets, 2008; Boxtel, 2009; Veerman, 2010; ten Dam, 2011; Leijnse, 2011; Meijerink, 2012). There is a gap between the emphasis on the moral work of teachers (and its expected impact) and a lack of substantive, explicit attention to the moral work of teachers in the teachers' education curricula (Willemse, Lunenberg, & Korthagen, 2005, 2008). The moral task of schools and teachers is articulated in Dutch education policy and regulations in terms of social competence and citizenship (Ten Dam, 2002; Veugelers, e.a., 2007; de Winter, 2011). These curricula themes and the exemplary role of teachers in primary education are expected to be important in the critical phase of the development of children to moral autonomy (de Winter, 2006; Kroon, 2005). Primary school teachers are seen as close partners of the parents in the upbringing of their children (Kroon, 2005). Novice teachers in primary education are often uncertain how to find their place in the moral community school is. Their teaching experiences in the first phase of their professional career (induction phase) make the novice teachers aware of the underlying and complicating processes of the school as an organisation and moral community. This moral awareness is often new to them because in the teacher education institutes teachers are primarily focused on the technical operating skills to solve problems in the classroom. Less attention is given in teacher education to the fact that novice teachers also become members of an organisation and need to deal with micro-politics to find a place of their own in the school's existing organisation (Kelchtermans & Ballet, 2002). This research generates insights into novice teachers' narratives and their moral Authorship. Measuring moral authorship makes it possible to design data-driven training courses promoting moral authorship.


For an up-to-date overview of publications, see; http://moralauthorship.com/moral-authorship/research-publications/


Normative Professionalization

Moral Dimension Of Teachers’ Professional Development

About the Research Group