Teacher Educators Working on Their Own Professional Development: Goals, Activities and Outcomes of A Project for The Professional Development of Teacher Educators

Oct. 25, 2008

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 14, Nos. 5–6, October–December 2008, 567–587
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This paper reports on the professional development of teacher educators within the context of a national project, ‘Professional Quality of Teacher Educators,’ where a professional standard and a standards-based procedure of (self-)assessment and professional development have been created and effectively implemented. This project offered a unique opportunity to analyze the goals, activities and outcomes of the process of professional development of teacher educators in a situation in which this development is promoted by the professional group as a whole.

Research Questions

(1) What goals do they formulate for their professional development?
(Are these teacher educators, for example, more directed towards the development of attitudes and beliefs than knowledge and skills or are they combining both?)
(2) What kind of professional development activities do they engage in?
(Does the professional development of the participants take place through experimenting, reading, doing, reflecting or cooperation? Or is it accomplished by combining these activities?)
(3) What are the outcomes of their professional development?
(Are the outcomes of the professional development related to their own personal development, or shared with others, like colleagues,
the institution or the wider professional community?)

Research group

The authors used 25 completed portfolio’s made by teacher educators participating in the standards-based procedure of (self-)assessment and professional development.

From the 25 participants whose professional development the authors studied:
● four had three or four years of experience as a teacher educator;
● five had between four and seven years of experience as a teacher educator;
● 12 had between 7 and 18 years of experience;
● four had more than 18 years of experience.2

Out of the 25 participants, 11 were working in a teacher education college or department for primary education, and five were working at a teacher education department for secondary education. In the Netherlands, these colleges and departments are a part of higher vocational education institutes. Six participants were working in a teacher education program at a university and three were working at a specific teacher education program within subject-based colleges such as art and physical education colleges.

This group of teacher educators has the following characteristics:
● They participated voluntarily in the procedure of (self-)assessment and professional development.
● They are members of the Dutch Association of Teacher Educators (VELON).

The authors found that teacher educators, participating in this procedure, prefer the development of their knowledge and skills over the development of their attitudes and beliefs. For their professional development, the teacher educators experiment with new activities within the work-situation and interact with colleagues within their professional community, more than that they study theory or reflect on their work. The participating teacher educators experience a positive impact at the personal level (change in cognition and behavior). More than one-third of them share outcomes with others. Above, they report a more positive self-esteem and more enthusiasm for teacher education. This paper may motivate other countries or institutions to invest in the professional development of teacher educators. Further research is necessary on the essence of the professional qualities of teacher educators and the relation of their professional development with student learning.

Updated: Feb. 18, 2009