10 SES 06 E, Special Call: Mapping Teacher Education across Europe and Beyond
Recent developments in the societies like changes in the family structures, multiculturalism, and digitalization present novel challenges to the teacher education in many European countries like Finland, the context of the study (see Ahola, Aslund & Vanhala, 2018; Klassen et al., 2018). Many European as well other countries across the world have some selection system concerning teacher education programs. An increasing body of research has examined characteristics of teacher candidates, selection criteria as well dimensions of teacher competences needed in teachers’ work (see e.g. Bowles et al., 2014; Brookhart & Freeman 1992; Blömeke, Gustaffson & Shavelson 2015.) There is an ongoing pressure and need for a research-based development of selection methods, as well as standardised selection processes and valid criteria for teacher education in Finland and other countries (Darling-Hammond, 2017; Clinton & Dawson, 2018). There is a global interest to develop a teacher education program to provide students with needed skills and competences in the 21st century were teacher education as well teacher profession are seen as a continuum. Therefore, this study deals with the selection of classroom teacher students in Finland. Our study investigates, how preservice teachers’ study profiles identified in the entrance examination phase predict their study success and time needed for graduation. A longitudinal approach is used that enables us to follow teacher candidates study performance from admission phase till graduation in the five year Masters’ level study program. The validity and reliability of selection methods is important because once student teachers is selected he/she gets a mandate to teach after graduation in Finland (Sahlberg 2011.) Finnish teachers have great autonomy because our schools are free from standardized evaluation.
Hence, an essential question is how to select the most suitable candidates for teacher profession in order to guarantee the further development of the schools and society. Till now the teacher profession has been interesting for young people, and universities in Finland get thousands of applicants every year. Many applicants try to get study place year after year in the highly competitive teacher education program. The average age of applicants is relatively high (see Ahola et al., 2018). Currently, primary school classroom teachers are selected in two stages in Finland. The current two-stage admission process comprises a national multiple choice test targeted at measuring candidates’ academic skills, and a locally organised assessment of aptitude for the teaching profession, for example, using interviews. (Klassen et al. 2018) However, there is a huge variety in methods of testing the aptitude of the teacher candidates. Especially the validity and reliability of the admission methods has been recently criticised, and their potential to predict future development of the candidate during five year study program and later their job performance has been discussed. (Finnish Ministery of Education and Culture 2018; Klassen et al., 2018.) As a consequence, this study is part of the national key project (Student Selection in Teacher Education in Finland – Anticipatory Work for Future). This project founded by the Finnish Ministery of Education and Culture with the target to develop evidence-based approaches to reform teacher education. This study aims to reveal a different kind of student teachers’ study profiles in terms of academic achievement with the following research questions:
- What kind of student teachers’ profiles can be found from selection to graduation?
- To what extent does study profiles identified in the selection phase predict study success in five-year Master’s degree program?
Two student teacher cohorts (N=278) were chosen in the pilot study, consisting of students accepted into the Teacher Education at the University of Turku in 2010 and 2013. Amongst selected students who represent our cohorts woman was 78% and men 22%. Applicants’ age varied between 19 – 46 years in the beginning of their primary classroom teacher studies. Gathered data is combined as one longitudinal data set enabling us to follow individual student’s achievement from selection to graduation during primary school teacher training. Our longitudinal analysis will focus on performance in three measurement points (Basic studies, Bachelor stage, Master’s stage) and on the time needed for graduation during the five-year Master’s degree program. After a descriptive analysis, our main focus is to apply a person-centered analysis in order to analyse the individual study profiles from entrance examination phase till graduation. K-means cluster analysis will be conducted by using IBM SPSS statistical program. Secondly, to identify student subgroups more advanced methods are used to analyse the development of different kind of subgroups of student teachers with MPLUS and latent profile analysis (Muthén, 2004). In sum, our analyses consist of following phases: Step 1: Identification of subgroups of student teachers in entrance examination phase (matriculation examination, upper secondary school performance) who showed differences e.g. high, average, low in scores concerning their matriculation examination. In step 2 we identify subgroups of teacher students concerning their performance in two-stage entrance examination i.e. in written, multiple-choice test and in aptitude test (interview). In the last phase of our analysis, step 3, the identified subgroups in step 1 and 2 will be used in order to predict student teachers’ study success. Our analysis will focus on three measurement points based on: 1) achievement in terms of the students’ university degrees in educational sciences at the basic studies level (Study year 1 and 2), 2) degrees gained at Bachelor level (study year 3) and performance on Master’s level (4-5- study years) and time (months) spent for studying in the program.
Our hypothesis is that there are different kind of subgroups among student teachers identified in the selection phase concerning the matriculation examination and in the two-stage entrance examination. In addition, we expect to reveal student teachers’ who carry on their studies with low, medium or high-level performance. We are aware that during the five-year Master’s level classroom teacher education program student performance can vary but like in other higher education study programs, for example in medical education, it is very important to identify and support low-performing profiles (see Vilppu et al., 2019). We need to increase our understanding of how our study program supports different learners. Therefore person-centered analysis is useful instead of cross-sectional analyses. First, we think that to develop a classroom education program and curriculum in a way that student teachers could achieve their best performances and acquire teaching competence during academic studies. Second, it is important to offer teaching and support that enables high quality achievement across the studies during the study program. Third, the study program has to ensure the quality of future primary school teachers in terms of skills and competence needed for the next 30-40 years. In sum, compared to many European countries Finnish teacher education receive high popularity among applicants. Teacher education has been one of the most popular professions with limited access even for qualified applicants (Sahlberg, 2011). However, in perspective of other European students, Finnish students are relatively old when they graduate. Therefore, there is pressure to further develop the selection system and study program in order to ensure the qualified teachers for the future and their graduation in time (Ahola et al., 2018).
Ahola, S., Asplund R., & Vanhala P. (2018). Higher Education Admissions and the Policy of Shortening Transition and Study Times. Publications of the Govenrment ́s analysis, Assessment and research activities 25/2015. Bauer, J. & Prenzel, M., (2012). European Teacher Training Reforms. Science, 336(6089), pp. 1642-1643. Blömeke, S., Gustafsson, J., & Shavelson, R. J. (2015). Beyond dichotomies. Zeitschrift Für Psychologie, 223(1), 3-13. doi:10.1027/2151-2604/a000194 Brookhart, S. M., & Freeman, D. J. (1992). Characteristics of entering teacher candidates. Review of Educational Research, 62(1), 37-60. doi:10.2307/1170715 Bowles, T., Hattie, J., Dinham, S., Scull, J., & Clinton, J. (2014). Proposing a Comprehensive Model for Identifying Teaching Candidates. Australian Educational Researcher, 41(4), 365-380. doi:10.1007/s13384-014-0146-z Clinton, J., & Dawson, G. (2018). Enfranchising the profession through evaluation: A story from Australia. Teachers and Teaching, 24(3), 312–327. doi:10.1080/13540602.2017.1421162 Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Teacher education around the world: What can we learn from international practice? European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 291–309. doi:10.1080/02619768.2017.1315399 Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Al Hashmi, W., Kim, L. E., Longden, K., Metsäpelto, R., . . . 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, 64-77. doi://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2018.03.001 Ministry of Education and Culture (2018). Reform of student admissions and cooperation between levels of education, Retrieved from [29.1.2019] https://minedu.fi/en/acceleration-of-transition-to-working-life Muthén, B. (2004). Latent variable analysis. The Sage Handbook of Quantitative Methodology for the Social Sciences, 345, 368. Sahlberg, P. (2011). Lessons from Finland. Education Digest, 77(3), 18-24.
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