Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 36, No. 3, 346–363, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this article, the authors investigate the extent to which three postgraduate teacher education institutes in the Netherlands pay attention to and aim to stimulate the development of community competence.
This question is approached through three curriculum representations, the intended, implemented and attained curriculum.
The intended curriculum describes the original vision, basic philosophy, rationale, mission and intentions underlying the curriculum, which can be elaborated in a curriculum document.
The implemented curriculum is concerned with the learning process from the point of view of the teacher – both the teachers’ interpretations of what the intended curriculum implies and the instructional process in the classroom are part of this curriculum.
Finally, the attained curriculum is concerned with the learning process from the point of view of the learners – it refers to the actual learning experiences and outcomes of the students.
The authors selected the three teacher education institutes on the basis of their involvement in university-based postgraduate teacher education and on their size.
The study guides of the three institutes were analysed to gain insight into the formal programme of each institute.
The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with the department heads of all three institutes, with 13 teacher educators and nine student teachers from different subjects from these institutes.
The interviews were combined with study guides, portfolios of 46 student teachers, observations and digital environments.
The study guides revealed that all institutes in some way or another stated the importance of developing community competence by their student teachers.
However, it appears that community competence is weakly conceptualised in the intended curriculum.
This weak conceptualisation was also apparent in the implemented curriculum, where the importance denoted by teacher educators in the intended curriculum was not systematically reflected in their own descriptions of their actions.
Teacher educators reported that they paid attention to community competence in the sense that they organised different collaboration activities.
Most teacher educators stated that community competence was not given explicit attention within the assessment procedure.
This lack of systematic assessment of the development of community competence is probably related to the fact that community competence was weakly conceptualised in the study guides.
Furthermore, in the implemented and attained curricula, teacher educators, student teachers and the materials showed that there was no systematic and explicit policy for stimulating the development of community competence of student teachers.
A consequence of the above-described practice of teacher education institutes is that student teachers do not systematically learn how they can benefit from collaboration with colleagues and fellow student teachers and they do not intentionally learn how to reflect on their own community competence.
The authors believe that all types of groups discussed in this paper can be fruitful environments for this, but especially the mentor and reflection groups, as these have the inherent goal of learning to collaborate.
The design should include guidelines for teacher educators, not only for using collaborative activities, but also for stimulating reflection on these activities.
These reflective activities can be performed both in groups and individually in the portfolio. For both of these activities, student teachers should be given tools to help them in reflecting on their community competence.
Teacher educators can then use these reflections in their assessment of student teachers’ community competence.