Source: Professional Development in Education, Volume 36, Issue 1 & 2
(March 2010), p. 61 – 75.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article presents the results of an exploratory research study into induction practices of novice teacher educators in six different countries.
This study aimed to answer the question, 'How do novice teacher educators experience their induction period?'
The study was a project carried out by members of the Association of Teacher Educators Europe (ATEE) Research and Development Centre (RDC) Professional Development of Teacher Educators. The members of this RDC are experienced teacher educators from different European countries and Israel, and they work within different educational systems.
Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 11 beginning teacher educators.
The characteristics of the participants: eight women and three men. They were born between 1953 and 1977. Participants reported that their main tasks were to teach student-teachers and to supervise them during their teaching practice. Also frequently listed was participation in all kinds of curriculum development activities. None of the teacher educators mentioned explicitly research as a task. However, two Israeli teacher educators reported that they did join research groups.
The interviews revealed that new teacher educators have various background characteristics but, with the exception of one respondent, all participants worked previously as a teacher. It is not surprising that our participants' main tasks are teaching and supervising student-teachers. Involvement in research activities is absent or insignificant compared with participants' other tasks.
The results of the interviews mirror the two levels of induction: into the teacher education institute and into the profession of teacher educator. Novice teacher educators experienced problems on both induction levels.
Participants' answers showed a need to acquire practical information on procedures and routines, while the accessibility of this kind of information was judged insufficient. Participants' comments revealed that their professional induction was even more problematic.
Almost all participants were experienced teachers, but nevertheless working with student-teachers requires new knowledge and skills for preparing and delivering courses, working with large groups and motivating students.
The authors conclude with recommendations for improvement of induction practices and further research.
Firstly, the quality of staff members is of paramount importance for teacher education. Therefore it is vital that teacher educators become lifelong learners who are able and willing to work on their own professional development.
Secondly, teacher educators' learning matters throughout their careers. It is likely that poor induction is not an isolated phenomenon but a manifestation of a wider problem.
Thirdly, additional large-scale in-depth research will provide a more comprehensive view on existing (formal and informal) induction practices, their purposes and outcomes, and the factors that contribute positively or negatively to the quality of induction.
Fourthly, available research findings basically describe the induction experiences of individual teacher educators. However, goals and content of induction are, at least for a considerable part, the result of organizational decisions. It is therefore essential to establish the relative impact of institutional conditions on induction experiences.
Finally, this collaborative research project also revealed a lack of shared language in communicating professional issues and the need to further develop this within international communities like the ATEE.