10 SES 09 D, Teacher Educators: Identity and Professional Development Needs
The research questions explored in this study are 1. How do teacher educators perceive their professional development? 2. What areas of professional development do teacher educators consider as crucial to providing high quality teacher education? 3. What factors enhance or hinder teacher educators’ professional development? 4. What are teacher educators’ current professional learning needs?
The purpose of the study was to trace the professional development of higher education based experienced teacher educators to reveal influencing factors and affordances conducive to professional development throughout their career. This objective is significant when considering that many teacher educators acquire their expertise after taking on the position of teacher educator (Murray & Male 2005; Smith 2012). The study was conducted across three countries that are very different from each other in terms of teacher educators’ prior teaching and research experience, and in the professional development opportunities afforded to them.
Given the complexity of the profession on the one hand, and the lack of abiding entry requirements on the other hand, professional development is essential for teacher education quality. Nevertheless, teacher educators’ professional development is still an under-researched area (Lunenberg, Dengerink & Korthagen, 2014). Most of the existing research deals with beginning teacher educators (for example, Berry 2007; Loughran 2013; Murray & Male 2005) whereas very little is known about the professional development of experienced teacher educators. Teacher education quality has been acknowledged as an important factor influencing the quality of teaching and students’ achievements (European Commission 2013), yet surprisingly there are no abiding guidelines defining who teacher educators should be, what they are expected to know, and be able to do (EU 2013; Goodwin et al. 2014). Teacher educators are usually recruited from two sources, working as teachers or working as researchers in universities. Teacher educators need to fulfil diverse roles, each of which requires professional learning (Lunenberg et al., 2014; Vanassche, Rust, Conway, Smith, Tack & Vanderlinde 2015), i.e., teaching in schools, teaching adult learners and second-order teaching (teaching how to teach). Teacher educators must act as mediators between the academia, schools and communities. They need to clarify their educational vision and values and make sure their practices are aligned with them. Finally, there has been an increasing demand in recent years that they engage in research and contribute to the development of knowledge in their field (Swennen, Jones, & Volman 2010; Lunenberg et al. 2014; Tack & Vanderlinde 2014).
A qualitative research framework guided the collection and analysis of data through conducting semi-structured interviews with experienced higher education based teacher educators. Participants: For the study reported here, a sample of 30 experienced higher education teacher educators (10 from each of the three countries – Ireland, Israel and Norway) were sourced after completing a European survey that set out to establish the professional development experiences and needs of teacher educators. Each of these teacher educators noted their interest in being involved further in the study. The sample of teacher educators in this study resulted in a range of demographics across age, gender, qualifications, years of experience as a teacher, years of experience as a teacher educator, academic roles and responsibilities and future aspirations as a teacher educator. Interviews: The semi-structured interview protocol was piloted with teacher educators who were not part of the study sample to ensure the wording and spirit of the questions being posed translated and transferred appropriately across numerous contexts. Those who were responsible for conducting the pilot studies were the same individuals who conducted the main study semi-structured interviews, which allowed for a level of consistency in the presentation of the interview protocol across the countries. The interview questions closely mapped the sections of the survey and constituted questions on (i) background and demographics, (ii) professional learning opportunities and (iii) teacher education and research. Interviews were conducted in each participant’s native language. Data analysis: Thematic analysis was used to analyze and triangulate the interview data. Initially, the researchers in each of the five countries identified themes arising from their country interviews. A coding process, used in identifying similar text units, followed by linking and retrieval of similarly coded segments (Mason 1996), was standardized across the three countries. These were arranged under themes and the data was analyzed under these themes in light of the research questions. New themes that emerged necessitated further consideration and analysis of previously coded data.
Preliminary results from the teacher educators’ interviews convey strong themes around the areas of (i) self-initiated professional development, (ii) the importance of experiencing professional development through collaboration with peers and colleagues, (iii) accessing opportunities to improve teacher education teaching practices and, (iv) the inextricable link between teaching and research and consequently the need to upskill in research skills. (i) It was consistently clear across all countries that teacher educators’ professional development was predominantly self-initiated, with the majority of teacher educators explaining how and why they had initiated their own professional development experiences. The extent to which professional development opportunities were targeted at more generic audiences than specifically tailored for teacher educators heightened the need to be self-initiated. (ii) Working with colleagues was important throughout the teacher educators’ career. This included viewing other teacher educators as mentors on entering teacher education, working with colleagues as a stimulating experience, and acting as mentors to beginning teacher educators. There was however hints of apprehension around criticism and competition from colleagues. (iii) Accessing opportunities to improve teacher education teaching practices was noted as important by teacher educators, implying that not sufficient affordances were offered in upskilling their teaching. This concern was heightened with the admittance that effective pedagogies were continually developing and needed to be aligned with the changing contexts of schools, and with teacher educators being more affiliated to schools. (iv) The inextricable link between teaching and research resulted in significant interest across the teacher educators in being considered research-active. There was also a consensus that contractual obligations as a teacher educator in a university resulted in research being part of teacher educators’ remit as well as legitimacy. There was a clear frustration that the research-active rhetoric did not match the university support structures.
Berry, A. (2007). Reconceptualizing teacher educator knowledge as tensions: Exploring the tension between valuing and reconstructing experience. Studying Teacher Education, 3(2), 117-134. European Commission. (2013). Supporting teacher educators for better learning outcome. Brussels: European Commission. Goodwin, L., Smith, L., Souto-Manning, M., Cheruvu, R., Tan, M. Y., Reed, R., & Taveras, L. (2014). What should teacher educators know and be able to do? Perspectives from practicing teacher educators. Journal of Teacher Education ,65(4), 284 – 302. Loughran, J. (2013). Being a teacher educator. In M. Ben-Peretz, S. Kleeman, R. Reichenberg, & S. Shimoni (Eds.), Teacher educators as members of an evolving profession (pp. 9-23). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education. Lunenberg, M., Dengerink, J., & Korthagen, F. (2014). The professional teacher educator: Roles, behaviour, and professional development of teacher educators. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense. Mason, J. (1996). Qualitative Researching. London: Sage. Murray, J., & Male, T. (2005). Becoming a teacher educator: Evidence from the field. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(2), 125-142. Smith, K. (2017). Learning from the past to shape the future. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(5), 630-646. Swennen, A., Jones, K., & Volman, M. (2010). Teacher educators: Their identities, sub‐identities and implications for professional development. Professional Development in Education, 36(1-2), 131-148. Tack, H., & Vanderlinde, R. (2014). Teacher educators’ professional development: towards a typology of teacher educators’ researcherly disposition. British Journal of Educational Studies, 62(3), 297–315. Vanassche, E., Rust, F., Conway, P., Smith, K., Tack, H., & Vanderlinde, R. (2015). InFo-TED: Bringing policy, research and practice together around teacher educator development. In: C. Craig & L. Orland-Barak (Eds.) International teacher education: Promising pedagogies (Part C, pp. 341-364). Brinkley, UK: Emerald Books.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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