The Influence of the Ecological Contexts of Teacher Education on South Korean Teacher Educators' Professional Development

Oct. 01, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 43, (May, 2014), p. 1-14.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of this study is to explore how the ecological context of teacher education influences affect South Korean teacher educators' professional development.

The research was conducted in three national universities of education.
One university is located in Seoul, the other is located in a metropolitan area near Seoul, and the third university is located in Southern Korea.
The researcher used mixed research methods.
The author interviewed 21 teacher educators of different ages, genders, and teaching subjects using a semi-structured interview guide.
Based on the qualitative research results, the researcher created a questionnaire for an online survey.
The questionnaire assessed South Korean teacher educators' work and concerns.


The findings reveal that South Korean teacher educators' main concerns about their professional development are related to conducting research.
Specifically, they are concerned about the lack of research assistants, poor research environment, time management, and pressure to succeed in their academic careers.
Consequently, these concerns lead teacher educators to have the need to obtain research assistants, improve their research environments, gain research years, and augment their financial support.

Moreover, teacher educators themselves have been trained in the culture of graduate schools that emphasize the importance of research.
They learn how to do research and are trained to be good researchers throughout the pre-teacher educator period.
During the time that research is emphasized professionally, there is not much of a central emphasis on, or opportunities for, developing skills to help and instruct student teachers.
Additionally, the institutional teacher educator assessment causes Korean teacher educators to view research as an important area affecting their expertise.
In addition, universities of education that specialize in elementary education are evaluated with same standards of general universities.

Furthermore, the global influences on South Korean teacher educators' work are also strong. Global trends such as emphasis on accountability and achievement affect national and institutional policies related to teacher educators.
Teacher educators have to show their competency, and conventionally, the competency of a professor means competency in scholarship.
They need to know global trends in education in order to obtain research topics and need to communicate with foreign scholars and educators actively for the purpose of active scholarship.


The author concludes that as a result of an environment that favors academic achievement in various levels of the ecological contexts of teacher education, South Korean teacher educators desire more international academic communication.
Since South Korea has mainly used external forces to upgrade the quality of teacher education emphasizing academic work, it is recommended that reflective methods, such as action research or self-study research, be facilitated for teacher educators.
These methods provide internal and autonomous ways of aiding the professional development of teacher educators, which is appropriate given the characteristics of teacher educators as professional practitioners.

This is valuable for teacher educators to learn from each other and to increase their competence in doing research.
However, as professional practitioners, teacher educators also can learn from their experiences.
In this case, what they need is more opportunities to experience, reflect on, and practice their work.
In addition, many educators confirm that, in many ways, collaborative reflection with others is more beneficial than individual reflection.
The author recommends on building a learning community between teacher educators and communities, e.g., colleague teacher educators or school teachers, makes it possible for them to learn from each other.

Updated: Jan. 11, 2015