Område 1: Coherence in teacher education
Research on teacher education continues to underscore the importance of coherence (Bamfield, 2014; Conway & Munthe, 2015; Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Hansén, Eklund, & Sjöberg, 2015; Smeby and Heggen, 2014). In a program-design perspective research focuses on what kind of teacher education students are offered. Research shows that conceptual coherence (the extent to which a teacher education program is built around a shared vision among those working within the program and in its connected schools) is decisive for student teachers to see connections between key program components (e.g., Darling-Hammond, 2014; Hammerness, 2006). Further, structural coherence (the connections between and within a program’s components, i.e., if courses are building sequentially) is important in order to create an integrated experience for the student teachers (e.g., Anderson & Stillman, 2013; Darling-Hammond, 2014; Samaras et al., 2016). In a learning and motivation perspective research focuses on student teacher learning and competence development. Coherence is seen as a solution to problems of experiences of fragmentation and disconnected learning arenas, and is defined as students’ sense of coherence while integrating diverse domains of knowledge and skills (Hatlevik, 2014).
Teacher education has long been criticized for having a fragmented program design with a disconnection between theory and practice, or coursework and teaching practice (Bain and Moje, 2012; Hammerness, 2013; Hoban, 2005; Weston & Henderson, 2015). Teacher education programs are complex as they include scientific disciplines such as pedagogy, academic subject disciplines (like Math and Science) and subject didactics (like math education and science education) together with practice in schools. One of the challenges within teacher education is that multiple actors within multiple disciplines and knowledge domains contribute to integrated programs. Finding coherence in teacher education programs is therefore important at different levels including: conceptual coherence (shared visions among those that are involved in teacher education programs), structural and program coherence (relationship between campus subjects and school practice including progression) (e.g., Anderson & Stillman, 2013; Darling-Hammond, 2014; Samaras et al., 2016)., and individual student sense of coherence (how the program is perceived as students work towards becoming a professional teacher) (e.g., Hatlevik, 2014).
Fragmentation may occur when programs are not designed for the integration of courses and when those teaching courses have little time to interact towards common program goals. Fragmentation may also occur when campus courses and structures are not aligned with the practice field (schools) where teacher education students, mentors and campus instructors interact (e.g. Darling-Hammond, 2014). From a student perspective, fragmented teacher education programs may hinder an individual’s development towards becoming a professional teacher (Hatlevik, 2014). For these reasons, our research will need to be active at several levels: individual, interpersonal, institutional and societal and how these levels interact.
Despite the last decades’ increasing attention to coherence in teacher education, the concept needs to be further unpacked, and this is a strand of research TEPEC aims to contribute to. Important areas of interest are to 1) examine and evaluate different teacher education programs in terms of a) visions, b) program- and curriculum design, and c) progression, and 2) to see this in relation to student teachers’ professional development over time.
TEPEC will do this by sustaining ongoing research on coherence in collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Teacher Education (ProTed) where quality in teacher education is driven by ideas of coherence. However, a main aim for TEPEC the next 3 years will be to initiate new research within this area in collaboration with international partners. ProTed is a part of an EU consortium application to support a network for teacher education and school leadership. Members of TEPEC are currently working on a proposal for a research project on teacher education program coherence, to be submitted to FINNUT in the spring of 2019. ProTed is also involved with the Nordic Center of Excellence in Quality in Teaching (QUINT), working with the use of authentic video in campus teaching. These projects are important for their comparative aspects of promoting quality in teacher education.