10 SES 12 F, Special Call: Mapping Teacher Education across Europe and Beyond
In light of the challenges of the 21stcentury, e.g. human exploitation and resource scarcity, drastic gaps between experts and laypersons, ever faster growing amounts of digital data, or the erosion of familiar social and political structures, it seems that coping with everyday life and shaping one’s own life are becoming increasingly complex. Ambivalences, contradictions, and paradoxes mark consumers’ daily lives (Blättel-Mink & Kenning 2019). In the consumer society, consumption is crucial to social positioning as well as to shaping one’s own identity (Schlegel-Matthies 2004). Children and adolescents already act as consumers, too. However, consumer experience should not be confused with consumer competence (Bartsch & Häußler 2016).
In the sense of consumer literacy,consumer education aims to foster consumer competences for living in and actively taking part in consumer societies. This includes skills, attitudes, knowledge and understanding required for being able to act responsibly and in a self-determined and reflective manner both now and in the future (Heseker et al. 2005). The potential contribution of consumer education, therefore, can hardly be overestimated, e.g. to achieve the Agenda 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goal 12 “Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns” (UN 2015), or its potential contribution to designing social and technological transformation processes actively rather than watching them passively as an approaching “digital tsunami” (Pfeiffer 2015).
At the European level, consumer education is a recognized right (EU 1997) and part of consumer policies (Grugel 2017). A decade ago, the OECD has presented the results of an international study on approaches to promoting consumer education (OECD 2009). Despite existing approaches, Germany was then not included in the report. Furthermore, there is no later update on the matter, although it is urgently needed in order to be able to learn from each other and improve research, practice, and policy. For instance, the ‘Recommendation on Consumer Education’ of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK 2013) marks an important step towards strengthening consumer education in Germany, as the 16 federal states were therewith commissioned to anchor consumer education in their respective curricula. Consumer education refers to questions from the consumers’ points of views and aims at different areas of consumption. Therefore, it cannot be the sole responsibility of one school subject; it must also be taught on an interdisciplinary basis (KMK 2015, VK BW 2015).This gives rise to questions on continuing teacher professional development, especially against the backdrop of policy change, as the majority of teachers who are now asked to implement consumer education across the curricula were not prepared for this during their Initial Teacher Education.
This paper seeks to exemplarily map current approaches in the field of consumer education to the continuing professional development of teachers. It is essentially based on the following research questions:
What must be considered for the empirically informed design of a professional development program for in-service teachers in order to promote consumer education? In particular:
- What is the need for professional development in consumer education of teachers in subjects that are traditionally conceived as less-related?
- What insights does professionalization research provide?
- How can the needs of teachers for professional development in the field of consumer education be met with results from professionalization research?
The paper briefly discusses recent developments in promoting consumer education on the example of Baden-Württemberg state and then considers the significance of continuing professional development on the backdrop of implementing consumer education across the curriculum. In order to explore the need for professional development for teachers on consumer education across the curriculum, we present selected findings of the “cLEVER” study. cLEVER is an acronomym for “LEitperspektive VERbraucherbildung” (‘consumer education as a guiding perspective’), which stands for a research project concerning the transfer of consumer education from policy, i.e. as anchored in the Baden-Württemberg educational plans 2016, into practice. The project runs from 2016 to 2019 at the University of Education Karlsruhe and the Technische Universität Berlin and is funded by the Ministry for Rural Areas and Consumer Protection Baden-Württemberg. For the study, data was collected through expert interviews (N=5) and two focus group interviews with teachers (N=8), which were both qualitatively analyzed after Kuckartz (2016). As experts, people with experiences in change management in formal education as well as work experience in school service, and a focus on consumer education were recruited, and then interviewed with a non-standardized guideline in October and November 2016. Core topics of the guideline included conditions for successful curricular change processes and the need for teachers to provide support services for the introduction and implementation of consumer education as a guiding perspective. On the basis of the findings from the expert interviews, proposals were developed which were then discussed with teachers in focus group interviews in December 2016. For this, Mathematics was chosen as an example for a - compared to other subjects - less consumer-oriented subject that has a relatively high contingent of hours available as a compulsory subject at the same time. Respectively, teachers following the Baden-Württemberg curriculum 2016 were invited to participate. In addition to the transcripts, field notes and image material from multi-point decisions was included in the analysis of the focus group interviews. Supply-related wishes from the teachers’ perspectives on the cross-curricular task were collected and the range of supporting measures desired by them identified. The findings of a literature analysis, carried out in accordance to the research questions above, are presented in a second step. Results on the effectiveness of professional development (Darling-Hammond et al. 2018, DVLfB 2018) are used to iteratively develop a continuing professional development program for teachers on consumer education across the curriculum.
This paper seeks to make a contribution to the discussion about implementing cross-sectional tasks in formal education and to teacher education research. A case is made for systematically combining research findings from different domains, here from professional development research and from consumer education research. We, therefore, present an empirically-informed concept for professional development in consumer education as a cross-sectional task for teachers and put it up for discussion.
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