A Marie Curie fellowship to work together – University of Copenhagen

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A Marie Curie fellowship to work together

Clemens Wieser is a new Marie Curie fellow at the Section of Education, Department of Media Cognition and Communication (MCC), where his research project “PEEK" runs from March 2017 to 2019. The Marie Curie fellowship enables Clemens to take a break at University of Graz in Austria, where he is assistant professor of Education, and focus on research.

How do we become better practitioners?

Clemens’ research project PEEK is short for “Mobilisation and transformation of personal educational knowledge for teaching: An ethnographic account on teacher knowledge". The project is about transformations between personal educational knowledge and practical educational knowledge. Clemens will investigate how knowledge develops through transformations, which take place when people start to work in a profession, where they have their studies with them and embark in practicing their subject. Transformations of knowledge are what people go through when they move from being beginners to being intermediate practitioners, and what makes them become experts of their trade.

What Clemens has noticed is that theoretical concepts and models of knowledge development are often rather static. Clemens therefore focuses on the process between the different stages of practice. For instance, the difference between a beginner and an intermediate practitioner of a trade is very well documented, but the process of moving from one to the other is not. It is this aspect that Clemens focuses on in his research project.

In the beginning stages, practitioners often voice complaints that their subject education is not very helpful for practicing the subject in an actual job. Clemens therefore looks into how people make use of their theoretical education alongside newfound practical and personal educational knowledge, to progress from one practitioner stage to another. Knowing what and how to teach students to support them in their process of becoming a good practitioner is a somewhat complex issue, but one that Clemens is willing to take on in his research.

Empirical research and philosophy

Clemens also talks about relations to neighboring concepts in the interview, and relates his research to the concept of habitus developed by Bourdieu. In recent years, the habitus concept has been criticized for being a too static concept: “You have habitus, but how do you get it?”, is this same question that Clemens asks with respect to educational and practical knowledge.

Clemens looks into philosophical conceptions of knowledge to address this issue, but emphasizes his main focus is an empirical one. PEEK looks at what is happening in practice and draws on existing theories to make sense of it in order to go beyond theoretical reflection. Inspired by PhD-projects at the department, such as Vibeke Røn Noer’s project on the nursing profession, Clemens includes video diaries as a major empirical part of his research project, and links it with Foucault’s notion of the technology of the self. Clemens relies on his fellow researchers at the Section of Education, especially Karen Borgnakke who has mentored the project since the beginning stages. Clemens says: “It just makes a lot of sense to be here and work together with these folks”.

Karen Borgnakke and Horizon 2020

Clemens met Karen Borgnakke seven years ago at the European Conference on Educational Research. After he gave a talk, Clemens had a chat with Karen, a fellow attendee at the conference. The two connected through their work and similar approaches to ethnography. From the very onset of their relationship, Karen supported Clemens research and approaches and kept an eye on his progress.
After that conference, the two stayed in touch and five years later at the same conference, Karen remarked: “Clemens, Horizon 2020, we have to keep it in mind!” - a few months later, in February 2014, Clemens received an email from Karen inviting him to participate in the Marie Curie preparation workshop in Copenhagen arranged by the MCC.

Marie Curie Workshop at MCC

Clemens participated in the Marie-Curie-Workshop at MCC: an intense week with focus on research by the individual applicants for the Marie Curie fellowship, and a lot of writing and fine-tuning of the application. Clemens was delighted by the workshop and considered it one of the most helpful workshops he attended while preparing his application: The workshop was a hands-on experience, participants could look into a successful grant proposal, and presentations during the workshop addressed key issues which applicants needed to tackle. Clemens took the experience home with him and took some time to focus on the final proposal. After the proposal was submitted, Clemens talked about it with friends who are also researchers, who said the grant would be almost impossible to get. So, when he received the proposal evaluation five months after submission, Clemens was actually quite surprised, and happy to today find himself at the halls of the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication (MCC), University of Copenhagen, in an office right next to his old friend and mentor, Karen Borgnakke.