10 SES 02 F, Special Call: Mapping Teacher Education across Europe and Beyond
As good teachers have a positive impact on student achievement (Stronge, Ward & Grant, 2011), teachers play a key role in high-quality education (OECD, 2005; Barber & Mourshed, 2007). Therefore, it seems evident that Teacher Education Programs (TEPs) aim at recruiting suitable teacher candidates. However, the high failure rate in the first year in Dutch TEPs and the fact that 20% of the beginning teachers leave the profession within five years seem to indicate that Dutch TEPs are not always successful in recruiting the right candidates. Therefore, the question how to recruit enough and suitable candidates for TEPs is important to consider.
Traditionally, admission procedures in higher education have used cognitive measures, like test scores and high school GPA, to assess prospective students. However, in the past years, there has been an increasing focus on admission procedures that measure non-cognitive factors as well (Niessen, & Meijer, 2017). This is consistent with evidence that, besides cognitive capabilities, certain non-cognitive factors also predict academic achievement and fitness to the future profession. Theoretical models for teacher selection usually focus on a mix of cognitive, non-cognitive and personal background criteria that are relevant for the teaching profession (Bowles et al., 2014; Klassen et al., 2017).
In several national contexts, admission to TEPs is a selective process, where teacher education institutes select students through summative selection procedures. However, in other contexts, higher education programmes like TEPs have wide accessibility. The higher education system in the Netherlands is characterized by such wide accessibility and bachelor courses are not allowed to reject students who meet the admission requirements (i.e. high school graduation). Therefore the goal of admission procedures in Dutch TTP’s cannot be selection of the best students, but aims at the matching of student and program and in this way facilitating students in the process of choosing a study. A matching procedure results in an advise for the student whether or not to enroll in the program. However, the ultimate decision lies with the student and most students who get a negative advise choose to ignore this and still enroll and start the program. This raises the question how to optimize and support the process of self-selection.
From the perspective of the student the process of choosing a study is part of an ongoing process of identity formation that continues after students have entered the study program (Holmegaard et al. 2014). According to Marcia (1966), identity formation is affected by two mechanisms: exploration of different options (in this case: career options) and commitment with the choice that has been made (in this case: the choice to become a teacher). In this process, students continuously explore what is interesting and define who they are and want to become. From this viewpoint, the process of choosing a study and future profession is also a process of identity formation. This signifies that study success cannot be predicted with a single assessment but relies on a longitudinal process. Students differ in the extent in which they have explored possibilities and formed commitment to a choice. This indicates that students have different needs and need to be supported in different ways during the process of choosing a study.
This study aims at exploring which goals TEPs have for implementing admission procedures, which interventions they implement for reaching those goals and under which circumstances these interventions lead to the desired outcomes. Although admission procedures in higher education have been studied extensively (Cremonini, 2010), little research has been done to admission procedures of TEPs in a context where the main goal is not selection, but matching.
This study was performed as part of a larger national research project on TEP admission procedures, funded by the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO). The study focused on two research questions: 1. To what extent do the advises given by TEPs predict academic success and fitness for the profession? (quantitative) 2. To what extent do admission procedures support the process of self-selection and identity formation? (qualitative) Eleven Dutch TEPs participated in the study: three graduate TEPs for primary education , five graduate TEPs for lower secondary and vocational education and two post-graduate TEPs for upper secondary education. In the Netherlands, graduate TEPs are accessible directly after obtaining a secondary education degree, when students are usually 17 or 18 years old. Post-graduate TEPs are accessible after obtaining a university master degree. All the admission procedures resulted in an advice to the student about whether or not to enter the programme. These advices (positive or negative), and students’ obtained credits (ECTS) and grades in the first year of their study, were obtained for the cohorts 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. To evaluate the impact of the admission procedures, students who completed the admission procedure were compared to students who did not in terms of grades and ECTS. In addition, students who received a positive advice were compared to students who received a negative advice. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, group interviews (2 to 5 participants) were performed with relevant stakeholders of each TEP. These stakeholders were for instance the team leader, the coordinator of the admission procedure and one or two teachers involved in the procedure. The interviews were prepared and performed by investigators of the research team and were held locally at the TEPs. The first round of group interviews (2016) focused on three aspects: (1) the problems that laid the foundation for the admission procedure, (2) the design of the admission procedures that were used to tackle these problems and (3) the prospected mechanisms and outcomes triggered by these interventions. In the follow-up interviews (2017 and 2018), participants were also asked to evaluate their admission procedure and to reflect on the quantitative results of the study and on literature on self-selection. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed based on Pawson and Tilley’s (1997) ‘realist evaluation’ method. Accordingly, the interview results were summarized in CMO-configurations, resulting in a general overview of contexts, interventions, mechanism evoked by these interventions and intended outcomes.
Problems that TEPs experienced in general were (1) high drop-out rates in the first year, (2) large differences between students in their degree of exploration and commitment with their study choice, and (3) students who ignored a negative study advice. Most interventions focused on promoting exploration by offering authentic study activities. Only a few TEPs offered authentic teaching experiences in their admission procedure, as this was difficult to organise. In matching procedures Dutch TEPs tend to use the same instruments as in selection procedures, trying to predict academic achievement. In TEPs for primary education 51% of the students who got a negative advise failed in the first year, compared to only 27% of the students with a positive advise. In TEPs for secondary education drop-out percentages were 61% for students with a negative advise and 44% with a positive advise. Although the difference is significant, the results show that many students with a negative advise do not fail in the first year and many students with a positive advise do. Both negative and positive advises were least predicting the grades for the internships as a teacher. The findings indicate that admission procedures which aim at selection of students support the self-selection of students only to a limited extent. Admission procedures should focus not only on capabilities of students but also on what is needed to become a teacher in the sense of values and interests. They should also take into account the differences in identity development between students and offer adequate support for all students, regardless of their stage of development. Seeing choosing a study as a part of identity development implicates that high schools and universities should work together more closely in facilitating this process.
Barber, M. & Mourshed, M. (2007). How the world’s best-performing school systems come out on top. McKinsey & Company. Bowles, T., Hattie, J., Dinham, S., Scull, J. & Clinton, J. (2014). Proposing a comprehensive model for identifying teaching candidates. The Australian Educational Reseacher, 41(4), pp. 365-380. Cremonini, L. (2010). Student Selection: An International Overview. Germany, US, Australia, UK. (Background Reports Veerman Committee). Enschede: Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS). Holmegaard, H. T., Ulriksen, L., & Møller Madsen, L. (2014). The Process of Choosing What to Study:A Longitudinal Study of Upper Secondary Students’ Identity Work when choosing higher education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 21-40. Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Kim, L. E., Patterson, F., Rowett, E., Warwick, J., Warwick, P., & Wolpert, M. A. (2017). Developing a proof-of-concept selection test for entry into primary teacher education programs. International Journal of Assessment Tools in Education, 4, 96-114. Marcia, J. E., (1966), Development and validation of ego identity status, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 3, pp. 551-558 Niessen, A.S. & Meijer, R.R. (2017). On the use of broadened admission criteria in higher education. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(3), pp. 436-448. OECD (2005). Teachers matter: Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Paris: OECD. Pawson, R. & Tilley, N. (1997). Realistic Evaluation. London: SAGE Publications. Stronge, J. H., Ward, T. J., & Grant, L. W. (2011). What makes good teachers good? A cross-case analysis of the connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4), 339–355. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487111404241
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