What and How Teacher Educators Prefer to Learn

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Published: 
Feb. 21, 2015

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 41, No. 1, 78–96, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined the professional development of teacher educators and differences in learning preferences between less and more experienced teacher educators and between university-based and school-based teacher educators.

Research method
This study has been carried out in the Netherlands.
The participants were 268 teacher educators, who answered a survey.
They were divided into four groups: school-based teacher educators with less than seven years of experience, school-based teacher educators with seven or more years of experience, university-based teacher educators with less than seven years of experience and university-based teacher educators with seven or more years of experience

 

Discussion

The findings show that significant differences were found between school-based and university-based teacher educators.
The focus of school-based teacher educators was predominantly on the cooperation with the teacher education institution and on coaching, while the focus of university-based teacher educators was mainly on the pedagogy of teacher education.
When looking at how teacher educators wanted to learn, all teacher educators had a preference for intentional informal learning, e.g., reading literature, attending congresses, intentionally experimenting and having conversations with their colleagues.
School-based teacher educators mainly wanted to learn together with colleagues in their own region, who are involved in a partnership between schools and universities, while university-based wanted to learn individually or with colleagues within their own institution and also with colleagues of other universities.
Furthermore, school-based teacher educators with less than seven years experience are mainly, and more than other categories of teacher educators, interested in improving their coaching and coaching skills.
Compared to the other teacher educators in this study, they most of all feel the need to obtain a deeper insight into the profession of teacher educators to help them strengthen their identity and to gain more insight into their own role in the community of teacher educators within a school-university partnership.
More than others, they feel the need for more structured learning arrangements (supervision and peer-coaching or participating in a course especially for teacher educators).
They expect to learn a lot from conversations with colleagues of various backgrounds within their school-university partnership.

In contrast, the main concern of university-based teacher educators with less than seven years of experience is to improve their teaching, mainly in the domains of pedagogy of teacher education and of pedagogical content knowledge.
In addition, the main concern of university-based teacher educators with more than seven years of experience is also to improve their teaching.
For them, the domain of the pedagogy of teacher education is still the most important.
But they are more inclined than university-based teacher educators with less experience to see this professional development in the context of school-university partnerships.
While their main preference is, like most teacher educators, to learn by reading literature, they also share with the more experienced school-based ones preferences for learning from attending congresses, experimenting, conversations with colleagues and participation in, or leading projects.

 

Conclusion

The description of the learning preferences of different groups of teacher educators as presented in this article may help to develop more adequate learning arrangements for and with teacher educators. It may also help those who are responsible for the facilitation of the professional development of teacher educators, those who actually develop and guide it or validate professional learning.
So, for example, in a programme aiming at collaborative learning of school-based and universitybased teacher educators, sensibility is required regarding their different orientations towards teaching and coaching and the imbalance in expectations of what they can learn from each other.
While school-based teacher educators are looking for co-operation with universities, university-based teacher educators do not expect to learn much from school-based teacher educators. It implies a recognition of an imbalance in roles and making explicit use of it, as is done regularly in learning communities and communities of practice.

Bringing together school-based and university-based teacher educators in supportive inquiry-oriented settings, while recognising their initial differences in learning preferences, may also help to overcome these differences and reduce the dichotomy in the political debate between those who advocate more research-based teacher education within the academe and those who reduce teacher education to school-based teacher training.

Updated: Feb. 23, 2016
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