Presented here is a methodology that allows one to briefly introduce a country’s education system to individuals who are not familiar with it.
PIETE Initial Teacher Education
Initial Teacher Education
Presented here is a methodology that allows one to briefly introduce a country’s education system to individuals who are not familiar with it.
To describe the systemic view of initial teacher education (ITE) in more detail, we will look to the framework below, which differentiates between actors and artefacts in order to reveal underlying structures and dynamics. Actors and artefacts can be considered agents, and can be institutions, organizations, authorities or individual actors as well as material structures, programs or documents (Burns & Köster, 2016, pp. 25). Thus, using the ITE Framework report will give one an overview of the ITE system in a specific context. Country case studies are also provided for Poland, Hungary & Germany, as examples.
Find out more about the framework used to identify and differentiate between the actors and artefacts in ITE systems by clicking the adjacent button.
Providers, Authorities and Other Agents
In the following, actors will be described with regards to their function and relevance as well as their interactions (e.g. collaboration between schools and Teacher Training Centres). Examples of the types of actors are ITE providers, school authorities, schools and general agents.
In terms of initial teacher education providers we consider the following:
(1) The institutional setting of ITE providers. We must consider the organisation of ITE providers across the country; whether they are public or private; the degree of autonomy they have from superior agencies like ministries. We must also consider the organization of ITE providers (hierarchy, decisionmaking boards, personnel structure, adminstration) and their connectedness to other actors and levels.
(2) The education program, which ITE providers pursue. Darling-Hammond & Liebermann (2012) differentiate two forms of education programs: academic programs, which are research oriented and refer to academic knowledge; and professional programs, which refer to vocational competencies and focus on practical education.
(3) The identities and roles of the individual actors. We consider who the educators, researchers and teacher candidates are, and their roles and identities inside and outside of the organization.
The educators, researchers and teacher candidates(actors) are examined alongside, and a more in-depth analysis of their roles is provided on p.10 of the ITE Framework Report.
(3.1) Teacher educators have different roles and identities. A practical method to analyse their role is to define their relation to practice in terms of first order practitioners or second order practitioners (Murray & Male, 2005). First order practitioners teach students in a specific subject with specific content. Second order practitioners teach students who are to become teachers. A conclusion that is drawn through this differentiation is the lack of professionalization and identity of second-order practitioners (as educators) (Izadinia, 2014, Swennen et al., 2010).
(3.2) Another way to explore the role of initial teacher educators is through their roles as researchers. Those who work at university and are required to fulfil performance targets in research may perceive themselves primarily as researchers.
(3.3) Teacher candidates’ roles and identities have been affected, as ITE has changed over the years, e.g. due to changing job requirements for teachers, or paradigm shifts of pedagogical methods. This is relevant to consider for teacher training centres’ strategies of attracting and selecting the candidates.
Find out more about the the role and responsibility of school authorities in ITE by clicking the button below:
In this section we analyse the role and responsibility of school authorities:
(1) Actors may be bureaucratic institutions at the federal (e.g. ministries), provincial (e.g. school boards) or local (e.g. municipalities) level. Next to these public authorities, there might be other agencies, such as consultancies or advisers for political institutions or performing monitoring functions.
(2) The responsibilities of actors vary and can be related to who recruits and employs the teacher workforce; the presence of mentoring programs for new teachers; and forms of quality assurance.
(3) After identifying the relevant actors and their responsibilities, we consider their interconnectedness. In many education systems (e.g. Austria), decision-making about many issues is shared across central government, the provinces, municipalities, and schools.
In this section we analyse the role and responsibility of schools. Schools are important places of ITE, because here usually happens the first contact between teacher-candidates and pupils.
(1) School pupils have an influence on teacher candidates. This also concerns parents: one could assume, that parents directly or indirectly address specific expectations to the pre-service or in-service-candidates.
(2) Teachers are colleagues of the candidates and also have responsibility for their success.
(3) Even more important is the role of school leaders, as they usually are the first contact persons to cooperate with school boards and ITE providers.
(4) Perhaps the most important school actors in the context of ITE are the mentors. It should be considered whether the teacher candidates are accompanied in their practical training by mentors.
Find out more about the the role and responsibility of schools in ITE by clicking the button below:
Find out more about the the role and responsibility of general agents in ITE by clicking the button below:
Teacher training does not happen in isolated regional or national contexts, thus a consideration of general agents is useful. General agents are actors which become relevant at different levels, with different purposes, and at different stages of the process of ITE.
(1) Organizations for further training and development. Once in service, which offers of professional development do teachers have? This question is especially interesting with respect to entrepreneurship education (EE), as in many countries EE is not an integral or compulsory part within ITE, rather an option as part of teachers’ continuing professional development. As most offers of EE are organized externally, they remain outside the scope of TTCs.
(2) Another category of general agents are labour unions (e.g. the Teacher Union in Austria and its strong political influence) and professional organizations (e.g. the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education).
(3) We have the relevance of NGOs and private businesses on national and international level. Especially the influence of corporations has increased in some respects, as they cooperate with TTCs, organize business visits, internships and other opportunities of non-formal learning.
(4) Then there is the role of media: media coverage and media institutionalization are important indicators for the public discourse on ITE.
(5) Finally, there is a range of international organizations whose agendas have influence on ITE on national level. Examples are the OECD and its comprehensive research on teaching and learning (e.g. TALIS-surveys) and the UN and its Sustainable Development Goals.
Curricula, Standards and Strategies
There are some elements of ITE, which are not represented by organizations or individuals but still have important influence. These elements are materialized as artefacts and thus can “act” in the same sense as human actors.
Teaching standards and regulations
Teaching standards and regulations are developed and implemented to maintain the quality of education. These standards and regulations may differ across countries and regions.
National standards can be important for ITE as they:
• provide a competency framework for teachers (e.g. competency areas with activity parameters concerning teachers’ tasks, knowledge required and evaluation methods),
• guide the curriculum of teaching institutions,
• assess graduating teacher candidates.
More relevant than teaching standards are qualification standards, which define what kind of qualification is required to become a teacher. These requirements mainly refer to curricular requirements, but also may include professional experience. Depending on the personnel categories of ITE providers, different qualification standards need to be considered. Qualification standards define what kind of qualification is required to become a teacher.
Regulations and certifications define, for example, quality assurance systems, development plans or evaluation processes.
Accreditation requires the meeting of certain requirements in order to be recognised as an ITE provider.
Find out more about the importance of teaching standards and regulations for ITE by clicking the button below:
One of the most important artefacts are curricula. There are two basic curricula-models in ITE, towards which our analysis should be oriented to: the concurrent model and the consecutive model. Within these models, the OECD (2019a) differentiates three core dimensions of teacher training which also provide a useful frame for analysis. Thereafter it is important to look at the relevance of EE and its integration into the curricula, as well as the how its integration can be effected.
In the concurrent model, “academic subjects are studied alongside educational and professional studies throughout the duration of the training” (OECD, 2019a, p. 128). Consecutive programs “offer specialized courses in pedagogy and in teacher education after completion of another degree in a subject” (ibid.).
A coexistence of both models may facilitate attracting different profiles of individuals and provide a fair basis to adapt to different circumstances.
Within these curricula-models, the TALIS report (OECD, 2019a) differentiates three core dimensions of teacher training which provide a useful frame for the analysis at hand: (1) content, (2) pedagogy and (3) classroom practice. These dimensions include questions such as whether there are mandatory elements of practical training in ITE (“classroom practice”). Depending on each national or regional context, there might be a need for further differentiation.
a) Cross-curricular: EE is “developed throughout all subjects and curriculum activities.”
b) Compulsory subject: EE is integrated into curriculum as separate compulsory subjects, or into other compulsory subjects.
c) Optional subject: EE is integrated as separate optional subjects, or into other optional subjects.
d) Educational objectives: A range of general educational objectives and learning outcomes, which include educational dimensions but are not explicitly linked to EE.
Find out more about the importance of curricula for ITE by clicking the button below:
National Strategies and initiatives
In this section, we consider different levels of existing strategies and initiatives to promote EE, such as whether there are national strategies, action plans and initiatives, which promote EE.
Different levels of strategies promote EE, encourage its integration, and thus have influence on the current situation on educational reforms (Eurydice, 2012, p. 7):
• specific strategies/action plans focused exclusively on the integration of EE,
• broader educational or economic strategies which incorporate objectives for EE,
• individual or multiple initiatives related to EE.
Find out more about the importance of national strategies and initiatives for ITE by clicking the button below:
Activities, Attitudes and Competences
The overall purpose of this section is to ask what it means to be an educator in the ITE-sector. Here we explore the concrete practices of ITE actors as they are displayed in the everyday life activities of teaching, which include attitudes and competences. See Figure 2 as an example for the “ideal” entrepreneurial teacher but note that these accounts do not necessarily provide insights into the realities of the practice – its challenges, requirements and problems.
Entrepreneurship education already aligns with many of teachers’ attitudes and goals as educators (EC, 2011, p. 23). Thus, it is suggested to undertake an audit of activities which “helps build understanding and overcome teacher concerns by demonstrating that much of what they already teach and the way in which they teach it has a good fit with the entrepreneurial approach” (ibid., p. 9).
Skills & practices
A first set of questions deals with the main variables that define and influence daily practices of teaching: are there specific teaching skills required? Skills can contain categories like planning, designing, performing and managing of the teaching. In more detail we can ask which professional, social and emotional competences (e.g. motivational and affective competences) are required.
Besides teaching, learning activities foster the learning capacities of students and require teachers to act as a coach or consultant, rather than as a traditional instructor.
Another topic is assessment methods. In general, assessment methods do not depend on the individual teachers’ practices only, but also on the ITE providers’ culture. A specific entrepreneurial form of assessment would be peer-review.
Other important categories of teaching are reflection and feedback: Where does reflection of teaching (and learning) take place? Are there opportunities to “enact” (i.e. practice) teaching? Are there specific mentoring programmes? In which form do students have the opportunity to evaluate the teachers?
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Knowledge & research orientation
Here it is important to consider the categories of knowledge, science and research. This relates to the form of knowledge required in teaching, which focuses on the division of content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. One should also consider the relation of theory and practice, where the research orientation of the individual teacher depends on the research culture of the organization.
Thus, we have to ask whether there are institutional structures which support research; grants or excellence programs for teachers (as researchers); and where the research happens – inside or outside the academy of sciences?
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Codes of conduct & organizational ethics
Most of the aforementioned categories are individual practices, which are nonetheless deeply connected to the organizational level of ITE providers. The individual teacher and their practices are mainly framed, influenced, fostered or limited by organizational structures, its culture and ethics. This frame, of course, depends on the organizations’ history.
With regards to EE, it will be interesting to know how many, if any, EE characterized activities are enacted within the organization. Do ITE providers “know” about their own “approach”? Do they have a clear vision and policy for EE, which expresses it as an entitlement for all students (EC, 2011, p. 8)? Such an analysis of organizational practices also should stress the roles of coordinators and leaders, because for EE to become a vision of the organization, leadership should entail staff consultation and clear communication of their own understanding and definition of EE.
Find out more about codes of conduct and organizational ethics by clicking the button below.
Levels of competence
All these practices of teaching, knowing and organizing, as well as the corresponding activities, skills and attitudes are mapped on different levels of competence, which depend on the concrete setting of the ITE system (see Figure 3 in the ITE Framework Report).
Competences are relevant at the individual student level when it comes to the management of teaching-and-learning-arrangements, as well as at the classroom level, e.g. when specific strategies for diversity and individualization are required.
Another dimension of competence is the school level where teachers are expected to be team players, colleagues, organizers or managers. Finally, we also can detect competences at the community level where teachers are expected to engage in advising and networking with other stakeholders.
Figure 3 exemplifies one possible tableau with the different levels of competences, which of course needs to be adapted to each institutional context.
Find out more about levels of competence by clicking the button below.
Comparative Framework of ITE
After analysing the main actors, artefacts and practices of the ITE system within a common framework, we map these elements. We differentiate between macro-, meso- and micro-levels on the vertical axis and the dimensions of Who, What and How on the horizontal axis.
Levels of the ITE system
The macro-level looks at the systemic structures in which ITE takes place, its “embeddedness”. It mainly covers political actors like governments and ministries, and bureaucratic actors like school boards and accreditation agencies. These national, regional or local authorities and their dependencies have been described in more detail in “Actors“. The meso-level refers to the organizational level of the Teacher Training Centre (TTC) and asks how ITE is implemented, managed and planned. The micro-level comprises all elements, decisions and practices which are the responsibility of the individual teacher educator.
Who, What and How
This rough classification helps to order the elements according to their function and meaning. The Who identifies the relevant actors on each level as already described above. The What classifies the most important factors which are necessary for the functioning of ITE, e.g. study programs, teacher qualifications, pre-service training and in-service training. The How identifies the way the different elements of ITE are being accomplished in terms of structural procedures or pedagogical methods.
Mapping ITE elements
The resulting framework provides a broad overview, which needs to stay rather abstract and somewhat imprecise, as in reality, categories and levels often overlap. Nonetheless, applied to each national context, the resulting framework can illustrate valuable insights like
• the level of centralization or decentralization in the governance of ITE,
• relationships of autonomy and control between several levels and actors,
• the educational diversity within a country.
Find out more about mapping initial teacher education systems by clicking the adjacent button.
The PIETE ITE Framework Report
About the output: a word from the coordinating researcher Mario Vötsch
ITE Framework Report (EN)
ITE Framework Report (DE)
ITE Country Cases