Coherence and Assignment Study in Teacher Education (CATE)
The purpose of this study is to contribute to a deeper understanding of pedagogical practices in teacher education in different contexts—in particular those practices in teacher education instruction that effectively link theory and practice. In order to do so, this research project examines the nature of teacher preparation across eight programs across five countries—Norway, Finland, the U.S., Chile, and Cuba. We focus upon the preparation of student-teachers in mathematics and language arts, because we are especially interested in the ways in which teachers are prepared to teach particular subject areas—and the relationship between theory and practice within a specific discipline.
About the project
In order to examine the nature of teacher preparation in these different contexts, we focus on the vision and coherence of each teacher education program, as well as on the opportunities offered to students to enact practice. We collect various types of data including program documents, interviews with program leaders, faculty, and students, course syllabi and reading lists. In addition, we are observing classes within the teacher education math and language arts courses—as well as collecting assignments within those classes—as a means to understand instructional practices within these eight teacher education institutions. Classroom observation enables us to directly explore the ways in which methods (or didactics) courses provide opportunities to learn about theory and practice. Further, examining the related assignments represents a means to understand in more depth the opportunities prospective teachers have to see the links between theoretical ideas and practical strategies that might actually be used in classroom teaching. Lastly, we collect student survey data to help us examine students’ perceptions of the vision and coherence of their teacher education program, as well as their perceived opportunities to enact practice. Through conducting this research, we hope to illuminate some of the most powerful and productive approaches to linking theory and practice in teacher education.
This project is funded by the Research Council of Norway. We are grateful for their support of this international research. It has provided funding to examine teacher preparation in three countries: Norway, Finland, and the United States. Collaborators from Chile and Cuba have joined this project by obtaining additional funding from other sources, enabling us to broaden the research to eight programs in five countries and providing additional important perspectives. A grant from KIS, at the University of Oslo, provided important funding for a pilot study for this research.
We are grateful to the many people who have dedicated time and effort to this project. We are very grateful for their effort. Their names can be found on the acknowledgments page.
We have developed several new instruments as part of this study: a survey of student perception of opportunities to enact practice; and an observation rubric that examines the same opportunities within methods courses. We also have a coding manual for use in coding observations of teacher education courses.