Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 39, No. 4, 471–490, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this study is to determine how active learning in teacher education (TE) in Finnish and Turkish contexts affects student teachers’ professional competences.
The participants were 728 student teachers. 412 were Finnish student teachers and 316 were Turkish student teachers.
The authors used self-regulated and collaborative learning as the theoretical framework for the active learning measurements. The professional competences consisted of a wide range of teacher responsibilities in schools and society.
Data were gathered by electronic questionnaires in both countries. The authors used the Active Learning Experiences Instrument consisted of 20 items.
The participants were asked to assess their active learning experiences and the professional competences they achieved during teacher education.
The authors asked Finnish student teachers to assess their active learning experiences in terms of how often they had these experiences during their teacher education studies. They asked the Turkish student teachers to assess their active learning experiences in terms of how well items described their experiences in teacher education studies.
After completing the 20 items of the Active Learning Instrument, the participants were asked to respond to an open-ended question and describe their best experiences in active learning.
The findings revealed that active learning methods correlated strongly with professional competences in Turkish and Finnish teacher education.
The authors argue that the impact of active learning could be found in broad competences such as ethical commitment to the teaching profession, teachers’ tasks outside classroom in cooperation with others, readiness for multicultural and media education and readiness for teacher professional development. Active learning also had impact on teaching competences in classrooms.
Furthermore, the authors found that the students’ own descriptions about their best active learning experiences provide evidence that active learning plays an important role in teacher education. The participants highly valued such experiences. The authors argue that in all the active learning experiences, the common features were personal knowledge creation and collaboration. The participants also perceived being committed and engaged as crucial. The authors argue that it seems that active learning with self-regulatory components can grow and advance only if students have a certain amount of freedom in course design and assignments. The students need opportunities to set their own goals and discover their own solutions to problems. The authors notice that it is also important that the students have a sense that the problems they are solving have a connection to real life. The authors found that in both countries, the student teachers stressed that they valued experiences in which they could learn what is expected of them in realistic or authentic conditions. The authors argue that learning that demands active reflection, and high responsibility provides student teachers with the confidence to expand their expertise and to become aware of their own growth processes as teachers.
The authors also found that active learning had a much stronger impact on Turkish teacher education than on Finnish teacher education. The authors suggest an explanation to this finding. They argue that the Finnish student teachers have a lot of freedom to choose the courses they want to take and in which order they want to take them. Furthermore, all secondary school Finnish student teachers study subject matters across several faculties and participate in pedagogical studies within educational faculties. However, the Turkish teacher education system is centralised. Students learn in cohorts grouped by study year within one faculty.
This study provides an evidence that active learning methods in pre-service teacher education positively contribute to professional competences, both to classroom-related competence and to a broader concept of teachers’ work.