Ethics in researching teacher professionalism as relational competence

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Research findings suggest that teachers’ relational competencies are critical for pupils’ academical engagement and progression, welfare, social behavior and participation in the school’s processes, among other (Nielsen, 2015). Relational competence can be defined as having an eye for children’s psychological needs, to act in an ethically considerate way and to harmonize and support positive interactions with the child. Analysis of empirical data suggests that teachers to various degrees possess relational competence (Nielsen, 2015; Dahl, 2017), and that specific pupils will appear differently (and thus possibly develop academically and become persons in various ways) according to which teacher, whom s/he is relating with (Nielsen, 2015). Yet findings suggest that there is a link between a teacher’s psychological and social skills, that is, aspects related to the person, and school children’s academic achievements, among other (OECD, 2004). This poses ethical questions about researching what ‘good teacher professionalism’ is, since focusing on personal rather than academical or professional skills means shift in focus from subjects, knowledge, pedagogy, motivation and ideologies, which has been addressed in dominant theories of what teacher professionalism is (cf. Korthagen, 2004), to personal aspects. Further, it leads to discussions about whether ‘good teaching’ can be addressed and learned in for instance formal teacher education, or whether personal qualities are expressions of ‘invariant meaning in a specific context’ (cf. Giorgi, 1998). Ethical concerns about what this means for teaching professionals’ responsibility (Solbrekke and Englund, 2011) is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year23 May 2017
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2017
EventInternatioinal Society for Theoretical Psychology, ISTP, Tokyo, 2017: 'The Ethos of Theorizing' - Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017


ConferenceInternatioinal Society for Theoretical Psychology, ISTP, Tokyo, 2017: 'The Ethos of Theorizing'
LocationRikkyo University

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