10 SES 12 D, Research on Teacher Educators
This study aims at understanding higher education based teacher educators’ professional development as it is shaped by the contexts in which they work. Specifically, the study describes teacher educators’ recruitment, roles, professional development as well as professional development needs in four countries: Ireland, Norway, Israel and The Netherlands. This is significant in view of the crucial influence teacher educators have on teaching on the one hand (European Commission, 2013), and the scarcity of information concerning their actual professional development, on the other hand (Goodwin et al., 2014; Smith, 2017).
Teacher educators work on the borderline between the academic world and the school system (Lunenberg, Dengerink & Korthagen, 2014). Traditionally, they are recruited either from schools where they have worked as teachers, or from universities where they were educated to be researchers and disciplinary specialists (Vanassche, Rust, Conway, Smith, Tack & Vanderlinde, 2015). Teacher educators from both of these recruiting sources generally lack at least some of the skills they need to have in order to perform their multi-faceted roles (Lunenberg et al., 2014). Two such areas of need that have attracted researchers’ attention are second order teaching and research. Second order teaching is teaching student teachers about teaching. Teacher educators need to be explicit about their deliberations and about the methods they employ. As they do so, they need to strive to exemplify in their own teaching the principles they espouse. They also need to adjust their teaching and assessment methods to the context of higher education (Murray & Male, 2005; Lunenberg et al. 2014; Swennen, Jones & Volman, 2010). Teacher educators who are recruited from the universities may lack teaching skills altogether, whereas those who worked as teachers may lack research skills that are required of scholars who work in academic institutions (Lunenberg et al., 2014; Swennen et al., 2010). Furthermore, they may feel that research is overrated whereas teaching is undervalued (Griffiths, Thompson & Hrynigewicz, 2014).
The context of teacher educators’ work includes their individual previous professional histories, as well as their institutional, regional and national environments (Kelchtermans, Smith & Vanderlinde, 2018; Murray, 2014). Within these contexts, teacher educators need to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their work with very little formal preparation or time for professional development (Murray & Male, 2005). Previous studies of teacher educators' professional development focused mainly upon the induction period whereas later professional development received less attention (Griffiths,et al., 2014; Smith, 2017). The contexts in which teacher educators work received even less attention, even among recent studies that looked into experienced teacher educators' professional development and needs (cf. Czerniawski, Guberman & MacPhail, 2017; Griffiths et al., 2014; Macphail, Ulvik, Guberman, Oolbekkink, Czerniawski & Bain, 2018; Van der Klink, Kools, Avissar, White & Sakata, 2017).
The current study explores how experienced teacher educators view their professional development from their recruiting to their current positions. By comparing teacher educators with different backgrounds and from diverse (national) contexts, we wanted to understand how their professional development was influenced by their own conceptualizations of their roles as well as by the contexts in which they work.
The specific research questions are:
How do teacher educators’ describe their professional development from recruitment? How do they describe their roles? How did they acquire the skills and knowledge to perform them?
In what ways are teacher educators’ roles perceptions and professional development influenced by both personal and contextual influences (and in particular the national context)?
The study was conducted by members of InFo-TED (International Forum for Teacher Educator Development), a self-initiated group of experienced teacher educators from seven national contexts (Czerniawski et al., 2017). The group was formed to promote international, as well as national, initiatives to support teacher educators’ professional development (Vanassche et al. 2015, Kelchtermans et al. 2018). The group has conducted a professional development needs survey that got over a thousand higher education-based teachers’ educators responses (Czerniawski et al. 2017). This study is based on semi-structured interviews with 41 higher education teacher educators from four of the participating countries (10 from Ireland, 10 from Norway, 10 from Israel and 11 from the Netherlands). The participants were sourced after completing the survey and having noted their interest in being involved in a follow up study. The sample is not representative, but still represents a range of demographics among others across age, gender, qualifications and years of experience. However, a limitation of the study is the small, self-selected sample from each country. The interview guide was developed by the members of InFo-Ted, and followed the sections of the previously completed survey. There were questions on (i) background and demographics, including recruitment into teacher education (ii) professional learning opportunities and activities, and (iii) teacher education and research. The interviews lasted between 35 and 90 min and were conducted by members from the respective countries in each participant’s native language. Each interview was transcribed in the language in which they were conducted. The data were analyzed thematically and based on a data-driven inductive approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Initially researchers from each country identified themes arising from their national interviews. Thereafter the authors of this paper developed through a moderation process some common themes that were presented in a matrix that gave an overview of the data. A final step was to conduct an interpretive analysis which is described as the researchers’ best effort to make meaning of the data while constantly moving between the whole and the parts (Hatch, 2002).
Findings convey that as a second career, teacher education is not planned ahead of time: recruiting results from self-initiation, head-hunting and serendipity. Schools and universities are indeed the main sources for teacher educators. Nonetheless, some of the interviewees were recruited from other sources, such as the chemical industry. These ‘other’ sources resonate with Snoek’s (2003) market scenario that is typical of teachers: When there is a need, people are recruited, even without proper qualifications. None of our interviewees received formal induction from their teacher education institute, although few and unsystematic forms of help, such as informal mentorship and reduced workload were offered to some. Israel is the only country with a study program in second order teaching. However, participation is voluntary and nearly all of the interviewees chose not to participate. These findings suggest that more rigorous policies concerning teacher educators' induction are needed in order to enhance beginning teacher educators' efficacy. The professional development of teacher educators is self-initiated. With regards to teaching, it occurs mainly in the personal and institutional levels: On the personal level, they strive to update their teaching and assessment methods. On the institutional level, they form learning communities and try to update the institute's curriculum. However, their ability to influence institutional and even more so national educational policies is limited. With regards to research, teacher educators’ professional development can be delineated as follows: getting a PhD; having good mentors and research colleagues; reviewing other people’s work and finally, helping others do their research projects is an advanced stage that contributes to further professional development. In three of the four countries (Ireland, Norway and Israel), teacher educators’ professional development activities and needs are heavily influenced by the need to produce research, and in many cases, this comes at the expense of teaching.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. Czerniawski, G., Guberman, A., & MacPhail, A. (2017). The professional developmental needs of higher education based teacher educators: an international comparative needs analysis. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(1), 127-140. European Commission, 2013. Supporting teacher educators for better learning outcome. Brussels: European Commission. Goodwin, L., et al., (2014). What should teacher educators know and be able to do? Perspectives from practicing teacher educators. Journal of Teacher Education, 65(4), 284–302. Griffiths, V., Thompson, S., & Hryniewicz, L. (2014). Landmarks in the professional and academic development of mid-career teacher educators. European Journal of Teacher Education, 37(1), 74-90. Hatch, J. A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Albany: State University of New York Press. Kelchtermans, G., Smith, K., & Vanderlinde, R. (2018). Towards an ‘international forum for teacher educator development’: an agenda for research and action. European Journal of Teacher Education, 41(1), 120-134. Macphail, A., Ulvik, M., Guberman, A., Oolbekkink, H., Czerniawski, G., & Bain, Y. (2018). The Professional Development of Higher Education-Based Teacher Educators: Needs and Realities. Professional Development in Education. DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2018.1529610 Murray, J. (2014). Teacher educators’ constructions of professionalism: a case study. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 42(1), 7–21. Murray, J., & Male, T. (2005). Becoming a teacher educator: evidence from the field. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(2), 125-142. Smith, K. (2017). Learning from the past to shape the future. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40 (5), 630– 646. Snoek, M. (2003). Scenarios for Dutch teacher education. A trip to Rome: coach bus company or travel agency? European Journal of Teacher Education, 26(1), 123-135. Swennen, A., Jones, K., & Volman, M. (2010). Teacher Educators: Their Identities, Sub-Identities and Implications for Professional Development. Professional Development in Education, 36(1-2), 131-148. Vanassche, E., Rust, F., Conway, P. F., Smith, K., Tack, H., Vanderlinde, R. (2015) “InFo-TED: Bringing Policy, Research, and Practice Together around Teacher Educator Development” In: Cheryl J. Craig, Lily Orland-Barak (eds). International Teacher Education:Promising Pedagogies (Part C), 341-364. London: Emerald Group Van der Klink, M., Kools, Q, Avissar, G., White, S., & Sakata, T. (2017). Professional development of teacher educators: What do they do? Findings from an explorative international study. Professional Development in Education, 43(2), 163-178.
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