Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 37, No. 3, 295–311, 2014.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article starts with an overview of the literature aiming to answer the question of what the knowledge aspect of teacher competence entails in urban schools.
The conclusion of the overview identifies five areas of expertise needed by teachers who are to teach classes of pupils from diverse backgrounds:
(1) language development - urban teachers should know about language development in classes of pupils whose first language is not the language of instruction;
(2) pedagogy - diverse classes need different pedagogical resources and different types of instruction from homogeneous classrooms;
(3) social interaction and identity - urban teachers should know about social psychology issues such as stereotyping, teacher expectations and ethnic-identity issues;
(4) parental involvement - urban teachers should succeed in engaging the parents of their diverse pupils; and
(5) schools and community – they also should cooperate with community organisations on a basis of equality.
The second part of the article describes the method as well as the results of the curriculum analysis, in which a distinction was made between the intended curriculum and the implemented curriculum of a teacher training college in one of the major cities in the Netherlands.
The intended curriculum analysis was conducted using six groups of search terms drawn from the areas of expertise.
The curriculum committee provided feedback on the first set of search terms for each group, after which the set of search terms was revised. The intended curriculum, the vision document and four out of seven competences explicitly mention ethnic cultural diversity and urban issues.
The implemented curriculum refers to the curriculum as it is in practice.
It was investigated by analysing a focus group session with the teacher trainers from the curriculum committee. An analysis of the course descriptions showed that the first and third years include courses that deal with cultural diversity in a general way. The areas of language and social interaction and identity receive relatively little attention in the curriculum.
The authors conclude on the basis of the focus-group session with teacher trainers that the implemented curriculum seems to pay more attention to ethnic–cultural diversity than suggested by the intended curriculum.
One of the recommendations is to integrate the areas of expertise more structurally in the curriculum, which implies the inclusion of additional sub-competences that reflect all areas of expertise, and attention for the topic in each study phase and in each core course.
They also recommend closely monitoring the alignment of the vision, the revised competences, the courses and assessment practices. Monitoring the alignment includes the learning activities and assessment practices. The revision of the competences will take effect only in the case that the course objectives, learning activities and assessment change accordingly.