Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 40, Issue 1, 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this international and comparative study is to examine what professional learning activities teacher educators value and what factors affect their participation in these activities.
The participants were 1158 higher education-based teacher educators in the countries participating in the International Forum for Teacher Educator Development: Belgium, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK. They answered on a survey.
This study provides data to question the extent to which all those working in higher education can ever develop an integrated professional profile, i.e. that of a teacher/practitioner and researcher. The findings reveal that two types of teacher educators’ professional learning needs arise from the data: (i) those involving the development of educational capacities related to their day-to-day remit as a teacher educator and (ii) those required for progressing an academic career, with research and writing skills being the most salient.
Furthermore, this study emphasises the ways in which teacher educators, as both teachers and researchers, want to be part of a collaborative community where they can feel supported, listened to, and share their practices and experiences. However, the extent to which collaborative communities can operate successfully is dependent on the human and material resources available to those seeking professional development opportunities. Regardless of the type of development need, participants in this study expressed a strong preference for professional learning opportunities that are continuous and based around experiential learning (e.g. working collaboratively with, and observing colleagues/experienced researchers; being mentored; being part of a team).
Allocating designated time for proper induction and professional learning would enable policy-makers and higher education institutions to encourage teacher educators to acquire and develop a more diversified and balanced, integrated professional profile rather than expect them to achieve this on their own. Furthermore, working collaboratively within such designated time slots will help teacher educators to create their own distinct and coherent professional identity (rather than through policy-makers’ enforced reforms) and further develop their profession.
The research methods used in this study reveal that in all six countries a strong desire exists from teacher educators to be exposed to alternative ways to educate teachers, to learn about developments in teacher education policy and contribute to teacher education research literature.
The authors argue that this study is important not just for teacher educators but all politicians, policy-makers and practitioners who believe that the quality of teaching affects the quality of learning. As professional learners themselves, only teacher educators can ensure such quality is nurtured, maintained, developed and perfected.