Supporting the Professional Development of Teacher Educators in a Productive Way

Sep. 01, 2015

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 41, No. 4, 351–368, 2015.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study focuses on the learning outcomes and professional development goals formulated by teacher educators who took part a professional development programme while putting together their registration portfolio.

The participants were 13 Dutch teacher educators, who went through a procedure to become registered as a teacher educator in 2011–2012 learned.
The methods used in this study are mainly the same as were used at the time the first cohort went through the registration procedure in 2002. The 2012 cohort participated in a supportive programme, whereas the 2002 cohort did not.


Findings were compared with those of a study on the first cohort in 2002, without the support of a professional development programme.

The methods used in this study are essentially the same as were used by Koster et al. (2008), who studied the first cohort that went through the registration procedure in 2002. This first cohort, however, went through the registration procedure without following a supportive programme.
The first trend that can be seen is that in 2012, more participants formulated more goals than did the participants of the 2002 cohort. Fewer goals were formulated for the foundational category, which is understandable because general principles such as ‘Teach as you preach’ have become part of the teacher educator’s standard repertoire in the last 10 years.
The goals the participants formulated for their further professional development seem to be inspired by these experiences and learning outcomes. They wanted to focus on communicating and working together with student teachers and colleagues, on the pedagogy of teacher education, and on their own continuing professional development.

Second, the 2012 cohort also formulated more professional development activities they wanted to undertake than the 2002 cohort, especially in the categories reflecting on work experiences and learning through interaction.
The participants from the 2012 cohort argued that the aspects of the programme that contributed most to their professional development were working together with peers, and getting theoretical input connected with practice from enthusiastic role models. Learning outcomes reported by the participants were a greater awareness of their professional identity and of their role as teacher educator.

Overall, the conclusion that can be drawn is that the pallet of professional development goals and of the professional development activities chosen to achieve these goals has become broader and richer.
Moreover, in 2002, the registration procedure was only open for university-based teacher educators, while the participants in the 2012 cohort are both school-based and university-based teacher educators. There were few differences between both sub groups, possibly because both groups had a background as teachers as well as teacher educators.


The outcomes of this study on the 2012 cohort suggest that integrating the procedure of going through the registration process with a supportive programme helps participants to become more aware of their professional identity and of their role as teacher educators. They reported a change in their state of mind as well as changes in professional behaviour.
Also more professional development activities in the categories ‘reflection on one’s daily practice’ and ‘learning without interaction’ were planned, although still not by all participants. Hence, this study shows (again) how hard it is for teacher educators to make deep reflections and solid theoretical underpinning part and parcel of their daily practice. Hence, further study on this theme is still needed, in the Netherlands as well as internationally.
Looking at the theoretical principles underlying the supportive programme, some additional conclusions can be drawn. Co-operating with peers aligns with the choice for more professional goals in the category ‘communicating and working together with student teachers and colleagues’ and more professional development activities in the category ‘learning with interaction’.

The influence of acquiring theoretical input connected with practice from enthusiastic role models, also mentioned as an important aspect of the programme, is mirrored in the choices for more goals in the categories ‘pedagogy of teacher education’ and ‘continued professional development’. They formulated almost the same high number of professional development activities in the category ‘experimenting’ and more in the category ‘reflecting on one’s own practice'.
A critical remark has to be made with regard to the programme principle that a solid theoretical underpinning should be offered too. Only half of the participants of the 2012 cohort reported a broadening of their theoretical knowledge as a learning outcome of the programme, and the interest to further extend this by reading literature.

In sum, research shows that important aspects of the professional development of teacher educators are a clear frame of reference, attention for the important roles of teacher of teachers and teacher–researcher, inquiry-driven learning in a diverse community of teacher educators, interaction with practice, and inquiry into one’s own practice.

Koster, B., J. J. Dengerink, F. Korthagen, and M. L. Lunenberg. 2008. “Teacher Educators Working on Their Own Professional Development; Goals, Activities and Outcomes of a Project for the Professional Development of Teacher Educators.” Teachers and Teaching 14 (5): 567–587.

Updated: Apr. 13, 2016