Metasynthesis of Preservice Professional Preparation and Teacher Education Research Studies

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Mar. 08, 2019

Source: Education Sciences. 2019; 9(1):50

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Introduction
As part of the research synthesis described by the authors in this paper, 14 different sets of teacher preparation practices and variables have been the focus of meta-analysis and systematic reviews.
Nearly all of the sets of teacher preparation practices include multiple kinds of practices that teacher educator experts claim are either necessary for preparing well-qualified teachers or are practices that have been the focus of research reviews.

Methodological Approach
The quantitative metasynthesis undertaken by the authors as the focus of this paper was essentially a meta-analyses of teacher and preservice preparation research. Their primary interest was identifying preservice practices where results from different meta-analyses of studies of the practices were combined where the aggregated sizes of the effects for different practice–outcome relationships could be used to identify the most important teacher preparation practices.
Second, for each type of teacher preparation practice they analyzed the different approaches to teacher preparation to identify subsets of practices (problem-based learning, case-based learning, inquiry-based learning, etc.).
Their primary interest was determining whether different kinds of practices proved more effective than others in explaining practice–outcome relationships.
Third, their aim was to include only meta-analyses that compared a preservice practice (e.g., problem-based learning) with a contrasting condition (e.g., traditional classroom lecture) to determine if there were any value-added benefits of a practice hypothesized to be related to better student outcomes.
Their metasynthesis also differed from other reviews of meta-analyses of teacher preparation and higher education studies by examining only preservice teacher preparation practices that could be used by course instructors, clinical supervisors, faculty coaches and mentors, supervising teachers, and other teacher preparation specialists to affect university student learning.
Explicit attention was paid by the authors to meta-analyses that included studies that employed either quasi-experimental or experimental research designs, or the authors were able to compare a preservice practice with a contrasting condition based on available information in a research report.

Method

Inclusion Criteria - Research syntheses and reports that met the authors’ inclusion criteria included journal articles, dissertations and theses, conference presentations, web-based reports, and unpublished reports.  Studies were limited to those published in English. Meta-analyses and surveys were included only if a preservice preparation practice was compared to a control or contrasting condition.

Methods of Analysis - The authors’ goal was not to make definitive conclusions about particular practices, but rather to produce findings where they were able to discern patterns of relationships between different teacher preparation practices and different study outcomes in order to identify high leverage practices as evidenced by the sizes of effects for different preservice practices–outcome relationships.

Results and Discussion

The findings reported paint a rather clear picture about which teacher preparation practices ought to constitute core practices as part of teacher education programs. The high leverage practices include:

• Extensive student teaching and clinical experiences;
• Explicit instruction and practices for students to learn how to teach;
• Faculty and clinical supervision, coaching and mentoring, and student performance feedback;
• Active student participation and engagement in knowledge and skill acquisition

Seven different teacher preparation practices were observed by the authors as having either high or very high impact.
These practices, are student field experiences teaching method instruction; clinical supervision; faculty coaching, mentoring, and student performance feedback; course-based student learning methods and practices; cooperative learning practices; and web-based and e-learning instruction.
The particular teacher preparation practices reported as having high or very high impact are ones that teacher education experts have “called for” in terms of well-prepared teachers. Other practices that often are said to be important for preservice teacher education, however, proved not to be highly associated with teaching quality or student performance and beliefs or not related at all with those outcomes.
These practices included teacher degrees, type of teacher preparation programs, teacher certification, and the number of university courses.
Findings from meta-analyses and surveys of these kinds of practices were found to be associated with small sizes of effects, and compared to the high impact practices, were found not to be as important as the practices associated with large sizes of effects.
 

Caveats
One caveat noted by the authors has to do with the fact that the findings and interpretation of the results are limited to the preservice teacher preparation practices for which they were able to locate meta-analyses and surveys of the practices.
There are many practices for which they were not able to locate research syntheses.
These included, but are not limited to, blended or integrated teacher preparation programs,foundation and methods, case-based learning, and different types of teacher preparation field experiences. They point out that findings from meta-analyses of these practices might have influenced the patterns of results in the metasynthesis.
 

Conclusions
The primary purpose of the metasynthesis was to identify evidence-based core teacher preparation practices based on the sizes of effects between different types of preservice practices and the study outcomes.
A point was made that the pattern of results and not the findings for any one particular preservice practice ought to be the foundation for interpreting the metasynthesis results.
They conclude that their findings clearly indicate that different clusters of practices stood out as being high leverage and high impact practices.
They suggest that these particular practices, when used in concert, ought to be emphasized in teacher preparation programs if highly qualified teachers are to be ready to enter the workforce prepared to teach in a manner that benefits preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school students. 

Updated: Sep. 12, 2019
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