Teacher Dissertation Topics

Example teacher training dissertation topic 1:

An assessment of whether England and Wales are moving towards a single method of teacher training.

The removal of the Graduate Teacher Training Programme and its replacement by Schools Direct – in which applicants are unpaid (unless they have been in paid employment for the previous three years) has led some within the profession to suggest that the government is seeking to make the Post Graduate Certificate in Education the primary route into becoming a teacher for those who did not undertake an initial degree in education. Undertaking primary research in the form of interviews with head teachers and trainee teachers, this study tests this hypothesis with specific regard to those seeking to obtain QTS (qualified teacher status) in Oxfordshire.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Burton, D. and Goodman, R. (2011). ‘The Masters in Teaching and Learning: A revolution in teacher education or a bright light quickly extinguished?’, Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, Vol. 37(1), pp. 51-61.drivers behind the reforms. Bristol: University of Bristol.
  • Elliott, J. (2012). Reconstructing teacher training. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Whitehead, J. (2011). Teacher education in England: The changing landscape and key

Example teacher training dissertation topic 2:

An analysis of the ongoing appropriateness of the national pay scale within teaching.

Given the present financial climate within the UK, there have been calls from within government for the present national pay scale in teaching to be replaced by local agreements in which teachers would be paid different rates within the country according to the prevailing economic costs of the area in which they seek to teach. At present, only those working within either Inner London or Outer London are paid an additional allowance to the agreed rates for state-employed teachers nationwide. This dissertation evaluates not only the political ideological reasons behind the suggested change but also seeks to establish its merits and demerits amongst those who have recently joined or are seeking to join the profession. Accordingly, existing data is, within this study, supplemented by primary data collection (150 interviews) and analysis amongst trainee teachers and those in their first three years of teaching with especial reference to Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Inner London.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Brown, A. (2005). ‘Implementing performance management in England’s primary schools’, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 54(5/6), pp. 468-481.
  • Kingdon, G., Aslam, M., Rawal, S. and Das, S. (2012). Are contract and para-teachers a cost effective intervention to address teacher shortages and improve learning outcomes? London: Institute of Education, University of London.
  • Lundström, U. (2012). ‘Teachers’ perceptions of individual performance-related pay in practice: A picture of a counterproductive pay system’, Educational Management Administration Leadership, Vol. 40(3), pp. 376-391.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 3:

The new National Curriculum – a year too early?

Those presently undertaking either the PGCE or the final year of their education degrees are being taught a National Curriculum that will not exist in September 2013 when they potentially enter the classroom as NQTs. Given this, this dissertation asks whether the present National Curriculum should be extended for a further year. In so doing it suggests that such a delay would be beneficial in two distinct ways. First, it would enable those presently undertaking training can be trained upon a curriculum they will actually deliver. Secondly, it would enable further INSET to be given to those already within the profession. This is therefore a dissertation that contextualises teacher training within the vortex of political ideology and departmental considerations at a national governmental level.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • McCormick, B. and Burn, K. (2011). ‘Reviewing the National Curriculum 5-19 two decades on’, Curriculum Journal, Vol. 22(2), pp. 109-115.
  • Oates, T. (2011). ‘Could do better: using international comparisons to refine the National Curriculum in England’, Curriculum Journal, Vol. 22(2), pp. 121-150.
  • Stanley, G., Jones, M. and Murphy, J. (2012). ‘Implementing the Opening Minds curriculum in a secondary school in England: An alternative to the one-size-fits-all National Curriculum?’, Curriculum Journal, Vol. 23(3), pp. 265-282.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 4:

The role of pedagogy – a critical analysis.

Those involved in the training of teachers repeatedly stress the importance of pedagogical issues. Moreover, a substantial element of university-based teacher training programmes is devoted to pedagogical concerns rather than ‘on the job’ learning in the guise of teaching placements. This dissertation questions whether such submersion in pedagogy is really needed. In setting itself against the prevailing orthodoxy teacher training institutions, it argues – with reference to the independent sector where formal teaching qualifications are not a necessity – that the skills of classroom management, homework setting, and ensuring pupil success in public examinations can be better learnt through practical experience.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dadds, M. (2001). ‘The politics of pedagogy’, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Vol. 7(1), pp. 43-58.
  • Gore, J.M., Griffiths, T. and Ladwig, J.G. (2004). ‘Towards better teaching: Productive pedagogy as a framework for teacher education’, Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 20(4), pp. 375-387.
  • Korthagen, F.A.J. (ed.) (2001). Linking practice and theory: The pedagogy of realistic teacher education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 5:

An evaluation of the need for professional training in Personal, Social, Health and Economic education.

Focusing predominantly upon those within the secondary sector this dissertation interviews NQTs within their first four years in the profession. It is expected that those teaching within the secondary sector will possess at least a 2:2 in their chosen subject specialism but, increasingly, subject-specific staff are also required to deliver programmes of PSHE or citizenship through either form time or dedicated lessons. Given this, this study seeks to assess the extent to which such practitioners feel qualified to teach such subject matter and questions whether initial teacher training for the secondary sector should include compulsory modules on PSHE and citizenship as well as individual secondary subjects.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Evans, C. and Evans, B. (2007). ‘More than just worksheets?: A study of the confidence of newly qualified teachers of English in teaching Personal, Social and Health Education in secondary schools’, Pastoral Care in Education, Vol. 25(4), pp. 42-50.
  • Formby, E. and Wolstenholme, C. (2012). ”If there’s going to be a subject that you don’t have to do …’ Findings from a mapping study of PSHE education in English secondary schools’, Pastoral Care in Education, Vol. 30(1), pp. 5-18.
  • Mead, N. (2004). ‘The provision for Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE) and Citizenship in school-based elements of primary initial teacher education’, Pastoral Care in Education, Vol. 22(1), pp. 19-26.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 6:

Time for a national Religious Education curriculum?

RE remains, under the terms of the 1944 Education Act, the only subject not to have a national curriculum. Instead, each local education authority is responsible for the construction of a curriculum that mirrors the need of their geographic area. Whilst an analysis of the different RE curriculums presently utilised within Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and Cornwall, show clear areas of overlap this dissertation assess the reasons for and against the establishment of a single multi-faith RE curriculum for the whole of England. In so doing the views of established practitioners are gathered in addition to those presently undertaking RE teacher training within the School of Education at Liverpool.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Langdon, C. (2012). To analyse a sample of grave memorabilia in an attempt to demonstrate how they illustrate the religious beliefs of the memorializers and to expose deficiencies in the death related religious education curriculum for England. BA thesis: University of Brighton.
  • Lewis, E. (2011). ‘When Gove became bigger than God: Using social bookmarking to track subject knowledge development and student priorities in Initial Teacher Training’, Research in Secondary Teacher Education, Vol. 1(2), pp. 3-8.
  • White, J. (2004). ‘Should religious education be a compulsory school subject?’, British Journal of Religious Education, Vol. 26(2), pp. 151-164.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 7:

Empowering schools to train – a new direction in teacher training.

This dissertation argues that it is within schools themselves that trainee teachers garner the most valuable information that will help them to shape their future careers. Further, in the mid 1970s, the final (county-based) teacher training colleges were closed and their duties subsumed into university education departments. In line with some more radical right wing think tanks (such as the Policy Exchange), this dissertation questions the ongoing appropriateness of teacher training being carried out within university education departments and argues that it is time to separate theory from practice and empower schools themselves to train those that will lead the profession forward in future generations. This is a challenging dissertation topic that addresses a political and pedagogical issue that has been on the political and educational ‘back burner’ since the late 1980s; one which may, today, however, be seen of increasing potential relevance given issues of costs, accountability and budget austerity.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Driscoll, P. and Rose, J. (2012). ‘Broadening the lens: an investigation of student teachers’ changing perceptions of pedagogy following a teaching placement in a primary school in mainland Europe’, Education, Vol. 40(4), pp. 417-431.
  • Griffiths, S. and Smith, A. (2011). ‘Extended services in schools: Developing resources to prepare student teachers for a rapidly changing working environment’, Support for Learning, Vol. 26, pp. 13-16.
  • Wilson, P. and Bolster, A. (2011). New models of teacher education: Collaborate paired placements. Bristol: ESCalate.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 8:

Reflecting on practice: The importance of an holistic approach.

In accordance with the pedagogy advanced by Korthagen (2001) and Jarvis (2006), reflecting on practice is an integral component of teaching training. The ability to learn from one’s own mistakes as well as to comment upon that which was done well enables the student teacher to grow as he/she becomes a more seasoned practitioner within the classroom. Using ten PGCE students from Winchester, this study evaluates the personal development of the students through their use of self-reflection and asks whether its continued use should become part of the formal, established programme undertaken within the NQT year, as well as thereafter, within further career professional development.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ghaye, T. (2011). Teaching and learning through reflective practice (2nd edn). Abingdon: Routledge.Jarvis, P. (ed.) (2006). The theory and practice of teaching (2nd end). Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Kong, S.C., Schroff, R. and Hung, H.K. (2009). ‘A web enabled video system for self reflection by student teachers using a guiding framework’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 25(4), pp. 544-558.
  • Korthagen, F.A.J. (ed.) (2001). Linking practice and theory: The pedagogy of realistic teacher education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Example teacher training dissertation topic 9:

Instigating ‘circle time’ within the secondary curriculum: A practice-based review.

Within the primary school-day ‘circle time’ is acknowledged to play an important part in both children’s psychological development and general well-being. With the pressure of public examinations such ‘me’ time is not included within the secondary school day. This dissertation, using two classes of Year 9 pupils at an inner-city comprehensive in Solihull as a case study, reintroduces ‘circle time’ (as a ten-minute, form-based activity on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons) and charts the responses of students during a nine-week observation period. This is a piece of research the results of which have implications for both accepted pedagogy within the secondary school as issues pertaining to adolescent well-being and the structure of the school day.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Mosley, J. (2002). Important issues relating to the promotion of positive behaviour and self-esteem in secondary schools. Trowbridge: Positive Press.
  • Smith, C. (2003). More circle time for secondary schools. London: Lucky Duck (SAGE).
  • White, M. (1999). Magic circles: Building self-esteem through circle time. London: Lucky Duck (SAGE).

Example teacher training dissertation topic 10:

A survey of the problems facing trainee teachers wishing to specialise in the post-compulsory level curriculum.

Within the broader secondary school curriculum there is a number of subjects that are not usually studied until A-level. These include disciplines such as Law, Psychology, and Government and Politics. This can create a number of problems for trainee teachers who wish to specialise in such subjects. For instance, in a number of Local Education Authorities (such as Sunderland) all post-sixteen courses are taught not within schools but within colleges (the maintained secondary schools within the LEAs finishing at sixteen). This means that trainee teachers who then wish to practice these subjects in their careers must apply for jobs without any subject-specific classroom based practice in these disciplines. This dissertation considers whether it should become mandatory for all secondary school trainee teachers to undertake practice in either sixth-form classes or sixth-form colleges, in view of the requirement that all eighteen year olds must stay within education or training from 2013.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Aiello, M. and Watson, K. (2007). ‘An alternative approach to CPD: An evaluation of the impact on individual and institutional development of an action learning programme run in partnership by an HE institution (HEI) and a sixth form college (SFC)’. In, Townsend, T. and Bates, R. (eds), Handbook of teacher education: Globalisation, standards, and professionalism in times of change. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 457-464.
  • Foskett, N., Dyke, M. and Maringe, F. (2008). ‘The influence of the school in the decision to participate in learning post‐16’, British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 34(1), pp. 37-61.
  • Fry, H., Ketteridge, S. and Marshall, M. (2003). A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice (2nd edn). Abingdon: Routledge.

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