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Detectable at First Sight?: Failures in Student Teaching Related to the Idea of Admission Tests
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2013 (English)In: ECER 2013, Creativity and Innovation in Educational Research: Network:10. Teacher Education Research, 2013Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study is part of a larger research project: ”Let the right one out! -Teacher training and the induction period as gatekeepers to the teaching profession” in which the overall aim is to examine the indicators which are used to argue for a student failure, the procedures that frame such a decision and the quantity of student teachers who finally are failed in the Swedish teacher education. In the presentation the practice of failing in student teaching is linked to a current issue in Sweden: The introduction of admission tests before entering the teacher education. Based on empirical examples - nine cases of failures - the following issues are discussed: Do the examples contain possibilities to detect insufficient teacher quality “at first sight”, that is before the student has entered the program? Can knowledge of such possibilities facilitate the selection of future teacher students? If so, how?

The Swedish teacher education has, like many others, been criticized for not sufficiently enough “separate the wheat from the chaft”, i.e. to reject students who are not suitable for the profession. In response to this criticism, the Swedish government has proposed that admission tests should be (re-)introduced. These tests shall, in accordance to the Government's proposal, measure “teaching ability - not opinions or behavior”. The question is how "teaching ability" can be distinguished from “opinions and behavior" and what qualities such an admission test can detect? A re-introduction of alternative selection instruments raises both the question of how such an instrument can be constructed and sharpened and the question of what is actually meant by "teacher quality". What qualities can be detected at first sight, and what qualities can/must be improved through training?

Admission testing in teacher education goes back several hundred years in Sweden. Up until the 1970s – when the tests were abandoned – the objective was to sort out "mature" and "healthy" teachers with a "pleasant personality" (Sjoberg, 2006). In 1977 the responsibility for assessing the students’ quality, to function as a gatekeeper, was consigned to the teacher education. Both Swedish and international research (Hegender 2010; Raths & Lyman, 2003; Goodwin & Oyler, 2008) show that this gatekeeping function is unclear and complex. These studies found that poor quality is relatively easy to detect but that the assessment often has a formative character and that barriers that are set up tend to be diffuse and local. It shows that the practice of failure is complicated, time-consuming and troublesome ant that the process often assumes the guise of “counseling out” rather than to be characterized of a distinct summative assessment (Goodwin & Oyler, 2008).

Method

All the known cases of failures in student teaching, during one semester at one university, were followed up. We interviewed the supervisors, the visiting teachers from the university and the administrators who handled the cases. Furthermore we gathered all the documentation on the cases concerned. Based on comparisons between indicators in the different cases categories have been formed and relevant themes have been generated. The result does not contain coherent case histories. Information from a specific case are to be found under several themes (multi-case report, see Yin, 2006). The aim is not to portray the different students; it is to try to create a synthesis of lessons learned from the different cases in order to develop knowledge around the questions at issue. The design is flexible and theory-generating (Robson, 2007, Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Processing of the data has been guided by the relationship between the initial questions (What indicates insufficient teacher quality? When is it detected?) and the problems surrounding what an admission test can measure ("ability, opinions or behavior").

Expected Outcomes

The cases can be categorized into two groups: Those who won’t be fit to teach and those who might be fit to teach. Crucial for the sorting was experiences of hope for development. Even if the informants do not take the word "hopeless" in their mouths, their expectations on that the students in the first group will be able to develop the necessary qualities and skills are low. On the other hand, those who “might be fit to teach” show a certain degree of talent and the prospect of acquiring the necessary skills/qualities. Although there are gaps in knowledge there "is hope." The main difference between the two groups is the point of time when the deficiencies are detected. In the first group this happens immediately, while for the group that might fit a pedagogical situation is required to spotlight their shortcomings. The second major difference between the groups concerns the indicators of deficiency. The results are discussed in relation to previous studies (Knudsen & Turley, 2000; Duffy Hardicre, 2007; Leshem, 2012, Riner & Jones, 1993; Sudzina & Knowles, 1993) and in relation to the problematic area of admission tests.

References

Duffy, K. & Hardicre, J. (2007). Supporting failing students in practice 1: assessment. Nursing Times; 103: 47, 28-29. Glaser, B. & Strauss, A. (1967) The discovery of grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press Goodwin, A. L. & Oyler, C. (2008). Teacher educators as gatekeepers. Deciding who is ready to teach. I M. Cochran-Smith, S. Feiman-Nemser, & D. J. McIntyre (Red.). Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (ss. 468-489). New York: Routledge. Hegender, H. (2010). The assessment of student teachers’ academic and professional knowledge in school-based teacher education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol 54, No 2. s. 151-171. Knudson, R. & Turley, S. (2000). University Supervisors and At-Risk Student Teachers. Journal of Research and Development in Education, Vol 33, No. 3, pp. 175-186 Leshem, S. (2012). The group interview Experience as a Tool for Admission to Teacher Education. Education Research International. Volume 2012. Article ID 876764, 8 pages Raths, J., & Lyman, F. (2003). Summative evaluation of student teachers: An enduring problem. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(3), 206-216 Riner, P.S. & Jones, W. P. (1993). The reality of failure: Two case studies in student teaching. Teacher Education and Practice. Vol 9, No 1 pp 39-48. Sjöberg, M. (2006). Prövad-granskad-godkänd. Till det goda lärarskapets och lärarutbildningens historia. I Sjöberg (Red) ”Goda lärare” Läraridentiteter och lärararbete i förändring.Skapande Vetande, nr 49. Linköpings universitet. Sudzina, M.R. & Knowles, J. G. (1993). Personal, Professional and Contextual Circumstances of Student Teachers Who “Fail” : Setting a Course for Understanding Failure in Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education. Vol 44, No 4 pp 254-262. Yin, R. (2006). Case Study Methods. In J.L. Green m.fl. (Eds.) Handbook of complementary methods in education research. London:Lawrence Erlbaum.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-28911OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-28911DiVA: diva2:649089
Conference
ECER 2013, European Conference on Educational Research, 10-13 Sept, Istanbul
Available from: 2013-09-17 Created: 2013-09-17 Last updated: 2015-05-24Bibliographically approved

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Lindqvist, PerNordänger, Ulla Karin

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