10 SES 11 B, Research on Programmes and Pedagogical Approaches in Teacher Education
The system of education in the Russian Federation is currently in the process of being modernized. The main research question of the study is: How a new model of teacher education is effective in the formation of teacher students’ professional competencies according to teacher professional standards?
New State Educational Standards for school students with a list of higher-order thinking and social skills as a major educational goal close to the 21-century list of competencies have been approved in 2012 in Russia. Corresponding Teacher Professional Standards were developed and issued in 2013. Further implementation of new Educational Standards revealed significant unpreparedness of university teacher education programs to train new coming teachers able to promote their professional activities alongside with both types of new standards. In 2014 Ministry of Education launched a four years project of the Restructuring of Teacher Education in Russian Federation. The goal of the project consists of elaboration of a new model of teacher training which would fit the requirements of Teacher Professional Standards and provide for new teacher education programs graduates opportunities to construct their way of teaching leading to a set of new educational goals.
Theoretical framework for a new model of teacher education (Margolis, 2014, 2015) is based on several important premises. Teacher is a learning professional who cannot be trained in a simplified fast-track way due to highly complicated list of his/her professional tasks connected not merely with transfer of learning subject information but with concept-formation, problem solving, development of students higher-order thinking, social skills formation, support for children with specific learning needs and students struggling with learning difficulties and all these while regular school subject teaching. In order to act in this way a teacher needs to be a reflective practitioner (Schon, 1983) and teacher-researcher (Zeichner & Liston, 1987) which means not only a high level of practical training on basis of real school setting (school-university partnership) (Zeichner, 1983) in a clinical way (Darling-Hammond, 2006; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999), but also a significant role of research competencies which teacher graduates need to organize action research in a classroom (Menter et al., 2012; Furlong, 2015; Sahlberg, 2010). Specifics of this model is connected with a concept of the educational moduleas a major unit of a teacher education program. The content of the educational module is covering one of several major professional tasks (described in the Professional Teacher Standard) and interconnects different modes of student learning activities including demonstration of professional task and necessary professional actions in the context of real school setting (clinical base), students professional probes to solve the task, theoretical part of module, practicum and practice phase, action research in a classroom, group and individual reflection. The idea of construction of teacher-student learning activity in a described way is based on the cultural-historical and activity theory (Vygotsky, 1978; Leontiev, 1978).
Restructuring of teacher education programs based on the approach described above was promoted in more than 65 teaching, research and teacher-training (pedagogical) universities from 51 regions of the Russian Federation and included 33 projects in which were elaborated 42 bachelor and master programs. Experimental training of almost 12000 teacher students was organized during 2014-2017 years.
The professional education exam was implemented for the assessment of students' professional competencies in accordance with the requirements of the teacher professional standards twice in 2015 and 2017. In total, more than 6 300 students from 51 universities participated in the independent assessment of professional competencies. Two groups of students participated in the assessment in 2017: an experimental group (1838 students trained by modernized educational programs) and a control group (930 students trained by current programs). In total, 2768 students from 43 universities participated in the study. The toolkit included a test of knowledge and cases solving (practical tasks) based on professional competencies under the requirements of the teacher professional standards and the State Educational Standards. The professional education exam was developed by teacher educators from universities, and reviewed by experts, including experienced teachers from university practice sites (schools, kindergartens, colleges), for the following specializations: preschool teacher, primary school teacher, educational psychologist, teacher of basic education, teacher of secondary education, defectologist. Case-tasks were constructed as teaching situations, simulating professional problems, for elaboration a professional actions chain to the resolution. This study used structured cases. At the first step, a research group formed a network with teacher educators and experienced teachers (inter-university working groups) based on professional tasks and specializations. Interactions were organized through the information system. At the second step, experts assessed the coherence of the questions and cases content to the competencies, professional actions and reflection of teaching (Davydov, 1990). At the third step, universities’ teacher educators have assigned competencies for each educational module that students have to acquire in learning. At the fourth step, the professional education exam was conducted. One test contained 20 items, or two case-tasks were applied for one competence assessment for 30 minutes. So, the professional education exam lasted from 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The results of the study show the statistically significant difference in the average score of the performance in the experimental group was 71 points, in the control group - 64 points in 2017.
The data analysis allowed to construct individual profiles of professional competencies formation for each student and student groups. The results of the evaluation of the development of professional competencies among students of experimental and control groups differ in general and by the levels of education, which allow us to discuss the effectiveness of the new programs related with the teacher professional standards (Margolis, Safronova et al., 2018). The findings support the assumption that a new model of teacher training might be effective (and to what extent) in respect of teacher student’s competencies formation according to requirements of new teacher professional standards and a set of educational goals described in new state educational standards. Additional sub-test carried out to trace reflectiveness of teacher students. The preliminary results show that teacher students demonstrated the low level of certain professional competencies connected with concept formation, students higher-order thinking development, application of psychological and pedagogical technologies, support children's initiativeness. Conclusions The results will be discussed based on two issues: professional competencies formation, the limitations of the professional educational exam and its further development. For the future, we consider adding a performance-based assessment of teacher students (for instance, the plans and parts of the lessons) as a main tool of the professional competencies evaluation.
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