ERG SES G 01, Mathematics and Education
Teacher training is a key factor in the improvement of teaching quality. However, in the last few years, initial education for secondary mathematics teachers in Spain is a matter of concern to educational authorities and policy-makers. This focus on teacher education has arisen because of evidence suggesting that Spanish teachers lack essential knowledge for teaching mathematics (Azcárate, 1998; Rico et al., 2003).
Besides, several researchers have pointed out that initial education programs for secondary mathematics teachers in Spain reveal weaknesses (Font, 2013; Gutiérrez, 2011). For instance, while some European countries, such as United Kingdom or Germany, provide national teaching standards determining what specific competences, skills, contents, and assessments procedures future mathematics teachers should acquire, in Spain there is a lack of central level regulations and guidelines for initial teacher education programs (Rico et al, 2003). Thereby, Spanish universities are completely autonomous in determining the content of their mathematics teacher education programs (Eurydice, 2011).
Another thorny problem in the Spanish teacher education system is that each institution is allowed to establish specific restrictions and entry requirements candidates should fulfil in order to enter to a specific education master program. Consequently, future mathematics teachers’ content knowledge seems to be varied, heterogeneous, and badly structured (Font, 2013).
Available research evidence and theoretical frameworks give clear directions when studying teacher education and its position within an educational system. For instance, some studies in the European framework highlight that teachers’ initial education has significant influence on the learning process, emphasizing the close relation between the quality of students’ learning and the quality of teachers’ education based on initial and continuous education programs (Becker, Goetz, Morger, & Ranelluci, 2014; Hill, Rowan, & Ball, 2005).
Furthermore, absence of practical preparation in teachers’ education could have important consequences, such as novice teachers lacking the coping skills necessary to fulfil their teaching roles (Caspersen & Raaen, 2014), often resulting in a theory-practice shock (Stokking, Leenders, De Jong, & Van Tartwijk, 2003), and/or high rates of attrition during the first years of teaching (Struyven & Vanthournout, 2014). In this sense, prospective secondary teachers in Spain complain about the missing link between theory and practice (Gutiérrez, 2011).
The goal of this research is to develop a critical analysis of initial education programs for secondary mathematics teachers in Spain based on an international comparison, suggesting appropriate measures to ensure a high quality teacher education system.
Building on the above theoretical framework we present the following research questions:
What are the key structural and organizational characteristics of initial education programs for secondary teachers in the international framework?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Spanish teacher education system in view of mathematics education at secondary school level?
To what extent are standards for secondary teachers defined in the international framework?
What is the status of Spanish mathematics teacher education regarding the international framework?
What kind of approaches can be introduced to improve initial teacher education programs?
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