10 SES 06 E, Special Call: Mapping Teacher Education across Europe and Beyond
In Australia, in Europe and in other places, initial teacher education programs (ITE) have been subject to increased scrutiny in response to government concerns about the quality of teachers (Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2011; European Commission, 2015). Often, ITE programs are called on to adopt selection tools, as well as alternate processes and pathways, when determining applicants’ suitability for teaching. Particularly, there has been increased attention paid to measuring non-academic attributes (e.g., adaptability, motivation) deemed critical for a career in teaching. However, current research (e.g., Klassen & Kim, 2018) challenges the reliability of commonly used methods (e.g., personal statement, reference letters, traditional interview) while also questioning the role that context plays when prioritising the assessment of attributes (Klassen et al., 2018). In Australia, the increasing managerialism of ITE has seen a move to politicise the process of teacher selection. Consequently, there is increased governance seeking to achieve desired institutional outcomes and appease public accountability (Malin, 2017). To ensure high levels of candidate competency and qualifications (Ackroyd, 2016), federal and national government policies aim to restrict entry into the teaching profession via teacher selection processes. As such, selection methods in education lack an evidence base, are ad hoc, and are largely viewed as compliance measures (Goldhaber, Grout & Huntington-Klein, 2014).
Recent research has identified comprehensive selection processes as important mechanisms for improving teacher quality and enhancing the status of the teaching profession (Sautelle, Bowles, Hattie, & Arifin, 2015). Given that teachers are the most important influence on student learning, a role with enormous social and economic expectations and impact (Hanushek, 2014) research that promotes the assessment and distribution of quality teachers stands as an important issue. Such a focus on teacher selection is also associated with debates about the relationship between high entry standards and quality ITE graduate outcomes in several countries such as Australia (Dinham, 2013), Scotland (Menter & Hulme, 2011), the USA (Cho & Couse, 2015), and New Zealand (Ministry of Education New Zealand, 2005) with prior academic ability and/or achievement as a key criterion for admission (Heinz, 2013). High performing educational systems, such as Singapore and Finland, use comprehensive approaches to ITE selection, requiring entrants to not only demonstrate strong academic achievement but to also possess specific non-academic attributes (e.g., communication skills, motivation and commitment to teaching; Barber & Mourshed, 2007).
To become good teachers, Donaldson (2010) recommends greater consideration be given to the non-academic attributes “associated with high quality teachers” during ITE selection (p. 26). Therefore, we wondered: What are the core, common, and contextual non-academic attributes considered critical for preservice teachers in Australia?
The project aim was to develop a conceptual framework for the selection of non-academic attributes in ITE. This process was guided by life-span theoretical perspectives (e.g., Erikson, 1950) considering the notion that as one ages personality becomes more consistent yet, still retains the potential for change. For example, evidence indicates that life experiences (e.g., histories, social context, culture) related to individual differences in personality changes well into adulthood (Caspi & Roberts, 2001). A life-span perspective on teacher selection and teacher quality is particularly important given that pre-service teachers’ non-academic attributes can be predictive of their success in early career teaching (Klassen & Kim, 2018). By mapping non-academic attributes identified as important in Australian ITE (e.g., policy documents, reports, selection tools, Australian studies), this research will help support ITE providers in Australia and abroad respond to reform agendas by aligning current research on the attributes of quality teachers to their contextualized selection processes.
We examined the non-academic attributes documented through selection tools and selection processes employed across Australian states and territories and current Australian literature. International research on teacher selection formed the literature base when considering ITE selection in Australia. This involved a five-step process of systematically mapping the focus, range, type and frequency of specific non-academic attributed deemed as important for selecting teachers. Step 1 involved a systematic search for selection tools and processes nationally involved scoping of secondary sources and documents available for each state and territory on university websites, public policy resource documents and reports. A document analysis approach was undertaken to identify common, core and contextual non-academic attributes referenced in the sources. Step 2 involved categorising a list of 274 non-academic attributes that emerged from 24 identified sources This analytical exercise involved data reduction through a process of categorization – from 274 to 198, and lastly to 59. In step 3, we collated the data using four tiers that illustrate the frequency of specific attributes in light of what was considered core and common across the data set. This included: Tier 1 of high frequency (5+); Tier 2 of moderate frequency (4-5); Tier 3 of low frequency (2-3); and Tier 4 of only 1 listing. Step 4 consisted of a two-phase approach where the categorical labels were further informed by literature and theoretical perspectives. Phase 1 involved organizing the 59 terms into six broad groupings, that included: social, emotional, personal, beliefs and values, capabilities and cluster X (a combination of unassigned terms). Phase 2 involved refining the six groups further to create three key categories of non-academic attributes: 1) Capabilities, 2) Beliefs and Values, and 3) Social and Emotional. The final step involved applying UNESCO’s (1996) Four Pillars of Education to facilitate an alignment between education and teacher selection.
Tier 1 (Core) consisted of attributes such as communication skills, adaptability, organisation, motivation to teach, conscientiousness, and interest in children and learning. Tier 2 (Common) consisted of attributes such as interpersonal skills, willingness to learn, empathy, openness, and self-efficacy. Tier 3 consisted of a range of attributes such as agreeableness, ethical, culturally sensitive, reflective, independent, and commitment. Tier 4 consisted of attributes such as curious, reliable, and self-disciplined. We found that the three categories of non-academic attributes that aligned with the UNESCO pillars. Capabilities (the category of doings/actions) aligned with Pillar 2 (learning to do). Under this category we considered attributes as skill attributes that would enable individuals to effectively participate in the school context. The category of beliefs and values aligned with Pillar 4 (learning to live together). Under this category it was important to consider attributes as implicit attributes (i.e., values) that support and nurture the human rights of students and colleagues. The social and emotional category aligned with Pillar 3 which highlights the need to support the enabling of individuals to develop both psychologically and socially to their fullest potential. The results are contributing to the development of a conceptual framework which will be included in the presentation.
Ackroyd, S. (2016). Sociological and organisational theories of professions and professionalism. In M. Dent, I. L. Bourgeault, J. Denis, & E. Kuhlmann (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Professions and Professionalism (pp. 33-48). London: Routledge. Barber, M., & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world's best-performing schools systems come out on top. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/social-sector/our-insights/how-the-worlds-best-performing-school-systems-come-out-on-top Caspi, A., & Roberts, B. W. (2001). Personality development across the life course: The argument for change and continuity. Psychological Inquiry, 12(2), 49-66. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [AUS]. (2011). Productivity Commission education and training workforce study. Canberra: DEEWR. Retrieved from https://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/education-workforce-schools/submissions/subdr94.pdf Dinham, S. (2013). The quality teaching movement in Australia encounters difficult terrain: A personal perspective. Australian Journal of Education, 57(2), 91-106. Donaldson, G. (2010). Teaching Scotland’s future: Report of a review of teacher education in Scotland. Scottish Government. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.scot/resource/doc/337626/0110852.pdf Erikson, E. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton. European Commission. (2015). Strengthening teaching in Europe: New evidence from teachers complied by Eurydice and CRELL. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/education/library/policy/teaching-profession-practices_en.pdf Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., & Huntington-Klein, N. (2014). It’s selective, but is it effective? Exploring the predictive validity of teacher selection tools. CEDR Policy Brief, 9, 202014-9. Klassen, R.M. & Kim, L. (2018). Selecting teachers and prospective teachers: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2018.12.003 Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Al Hashmi, W., Kim, L. E., Longden, K., Metsäpelto, R. L., ... & Györi, J. G. (2018). National context and teacher characteristics: Exploring the critical non-cognitive attributes of novice teachers in four countries. Teaching and Teacher Education, 72, 64-74. Menter, I., & Hulme, M. (2011). Teacher education reform in Scotland: National and global influences. Journal of Education for Teaching, 37(4), 387-397. Sautelle, E., Bowles, T., Hattie, J., & Arifin, D. N. (2015). Personality, resilience, self-regulation and cognitive ability relevant to teacher selection. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 40(4), 4. UNESCO. (1996). Learning: The treasure within. UNESO Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/15_62.pdf
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