Teacher Educators Told To 'Do More' With Less Help, New Survey Finds
SAN ANTONIO--Administrators and faculty members engaged in teacher education believe they are being told to "do more,'' but with fewer resources and little say about what should be done to improve their programs, according to preliminary findings from a survey released here.
The study, the sixth in a series conducted for the Research About Teacher Education, or RATE, project, was presented late last month at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. It examines efforts over the past five years to revitalize teacher-training programs in 90 randomly selected institutions.
Questionnaires were distributed to institutional representatives, administrators, and faculty members in teacher-education programs in three types of institutions: smaller schools that grant only bachelor's degrees, medium-size schools that confer master's or sixth-year degrees, and large research institutions that offer doctoral programs.
Those surveyed were asked to indicate their schools' progress in addressing a range of common concerns about teacher-education programs.
In general, the respondents reported making the most headway in reaching agreement on a conceptual framework for their programs, defining a set of goals for their students and weaving them into the curriculum, developing a core curriculum, and involving faculty members in designing and assessing programs.
But they reported making less progress in developing specific program attributes that teacher-education schools have been urged to explore. More than 60 percent of the respondents, for example, reported making only moderate or marginal progress toward developing "cohorts'' of students to help them become socialized into the teaching profession.
Portfolios and Laboratories
Nearly one-third said they had made no progress at all toward using portfolios of pre-service teachers' work, despite portfolios' "considerable potential for altering the manner in which both programs and students are assessed,'' according to the draft report on the survey findings.
The report was prepared by Kenneth R. Howey, a professor of education at Ohio State University.
The extent to which teacher-education programs use laboratories to prepare pre-service teachers also was examined. More than half of the respondents said they had made little or no progress in developing laboratory facilities. But more than 30 percent reported making good or excellent progress--a fact that Mr. Howey speculated could be due to the number of computer laboratories in use.
"If computer laboratories were not included,'' the report notes, "the number of institutions reporting progress would be considerably less.''
Teacher educators have been urged to develop laboratories to broaden the experiences they offer to their students.
"The misguided and prevailing view in teacher education,'' Mr. Howey contended, "is that one can learn to teach in lecture halls followed by student teaching.''
Officers More Positive
Chief academic officers were considerably more positive than faculty members in assessing the amount of progress their institutions had made, the survey found.
A majority of both administrators and faculty members, however, said they believed their programs still needed a "fair'' amount of development.
The responses to the survey portray "unevenness within and across institutions,'' the study concludes. "Several serious concerns are being addressed, but usually in a piecemeal fashion. Other problems are not addressed in any serious manner.''
When asked what was constraining them from improving their programs, both faculty members and administrators cited familiar problems: money and resources. They also said they had less time to devote to developing their programs because of the increasing demands being placed upon them.
Both groups also voiced concern over the "hyper-regulation'' of teacher education by state legislative bodies and education agencies.
Leaders and faculty members in teacher-education programs overwhelmingly believe that these policies are being formulated without them. Only 10.6 percent of the leaders and 9.6 percent of the faculty members said they had a "great deal or a good deal'' of influence over state policy.
Perhaps as a consequence, fewer than half of all faculty members thought that state-level policies were having a positive impact on their programs.
The leaders of institutions granting bachelor's and master's or sixth-year degrees, however, were much more positive. More than three-quarters of the leaders of the bachelor's institutions, for example, thought state rules had had a positive effect on their efforts to improve their programs.
The study also asked a series of questions examining the relationship between teacher-education faculties and precollegiate teachers.
Nearly half of the 46 leaders who responded said their institutions had "professional-development schools,'' while more than one-third of the faculty members said their schools had such facilities. Institutions granting only bachelor's degrees were less likely to report working in professional-development schools.
Only a third of the leaders said the professional-development schools were "fully implemented'' or that they had made "considerable progress'' with them. An additional one-third of the leaders said the schools were in the preliminary-discussion or planning stage.
The final report will be available later this year from AACTE.