Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 37, No. 5, November 2011, 651–664.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study examines how the contemporary European policy debate addresses the further development of the quality of teacher educators.
The study addresses to the following research questions:
Are teacher educators recognised as a specific professional group as reflected in educational policies of the European Union at large and in individual European countries?, and
What are the proposed formal regulations and measures to strengthen the quality of teacher educators as a professional group?
As the authors focus on the quality of teacher educators as a professional group they use the notion of professionalism.
Based on the literature about professionalism, the authors developed a framework that enabled them to investigate and compare European and national policies on teacher educators.
The authors identified elements of professionalism for the analytical framework:
the use of professional standards and ethical codes to regulate the work and professional quality of the members of a profession; entry regulations in terms of required training programmes or qualifications; the lifelong learning of professionals; collaboration within and outside the profession; accountability for professional quality; the use of an extended knowledge base; and engagement in research to develop the knowledge base and to support innovations.
The authors conducted an explorative study using the classification framework to identify the concerns, formal regulations and policy measures with regard to teacher educators’ professionalism.
The authors used two instruments to answer the research question:
a document analysis of seven relevant European policy documents, and
a questionnaire that was used to collect data from national key policy experts in 16 Member States.
The European policy documents pay limited attention to teacher educators, their professionalism and its further development.
The findings revealed that no concrete suggestions have been made concerning measures and actions to improve the quality of teacher educators or to encourage their professional development.
On the national level, the questionnaire revealed that in many European countries the quality and professionalism of teacher educators are addressed in several ways.
In almost all countries, concern is expressed about the quality of teacher educators and there have been concrete proposals for improvement.
Several countries have some kind of national legislation on the criteria for entry to the teacher educator profession.
However, more specific criteria are the responsibility of teacher education institutions.
These criteria play a role in accreditation procedures for institutions or programmes.
National professional standards or an ethical code for teacher educators exist in only a few countries.
In most countries, this seems to be the responsibility of individual teacher education institutions, while the government plays a role in facilitating initial and further education by funding specific projects or expertise centres.
As revealed by the questionnaire, the main stakeholders with respect to measures to improve the quality of teacher educators are governments and heads of individual teacher education departments or universities.
National higher education agencies sometimes play a role, but there seems to be virtually no role for teacher unions or teacher educator associations.
Exceptions are countries in which teacher educators are organized in professional associations, which is the case in the Netherlands and Hungary.
This article concludes that in most countries, policy measures for teacher educators appear to be no different from measures for teachers in higher education in general, while in only a few countries are teacher educators considered a distinct professional group with its own policy measures.
The most dominant stakeholders in developing actions and measures related to the professional quality of teacher educators are national governments and heads of local teacher education institutions.
Teacher educators themselves, however, are much less specified as explicit stakeholders in policies on the quality of teacher educators.
The authors recommend that to be involved as a stakeholder in the development of policies on the professional quality of teacher educators, strong organisational structures are needed.