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Quality Through Increased Concentration of Student Teachers?
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Background: The Teacher Education at the University of Umeå is one of fifteen universities in Sweden participating in a National Project over five years concerning the establishment of ‘advanced’ education training schools. The goal is threefold: 1) to develop teacher education with a focus on developing the school based studies (VFU) for student teacher, 2) to increase the knowledge and skills of the SBTEs (school based teacher educators) and IBTEs (institute- based teacher educators) by offering in-service education and 3) to initiate research programs with the participating municipality schools (Umeå teacher education application document, 2014). The background is that Teacher Education in Sweden as well as in the rest of Europe struggle with issues concerning how to increase the quality of teachers in our schools, not only as a single problem for the schools but also the effects on student teachers’ practical part of teacher education, and in the end, it has shown that the quality of Teacher Education has a strong influence on pupils’ performance in school (European Commission, 2008).  Research has shown that there is a common challenge in the European countries to educate and develop student teachers with valid qualifications, both on a practical and a scientific level (Råde, 2014). The importance of well-educated and qualified teachers, and thus a high-quality Teacher Education who can respond to these demands, are highlighted in policies (e.g. European Commission, 2013, 2014; Swedish Ministry of Education and Research 2010), as well as in research (e.g. Harris & Muijs, 2005; Timperley, 2011; Darling –Hammond, 2006; Valliant and Manso, 2013; Ievers et al., 2013; White, Dickerson & Weston, 2015). The Swedish pilot project is trying to face these challenges by using different strategies to increase the qualities in Teacher Education.

One of the main strategies in VFU is to increase the concentration of teacher students at advanced teacher training schools and thus also increase the concentration of the educated supervisors (SBTEs). The idea is that an elevated concentration of both SBTEs and student teachers at the advanced teacher training school, will have a positive impact of the quality as a variation of supervising and peer learning will occur (Government Offices, 2013).

The present study is the second part of a process evaluation of a pilot project on School Based Studies (VFU) in teacher education at the University of Umeå, Sweden, which was launched in 2015 and will be finished in 2019. An organizational focus was in the first part of the evaluation. In this second part the focus is on quality, identified as increased concentration of student teachers in VFU. The purpose with the present study is thus to take a closer look at the chosen strategy for raised quality in VFU and the following questions have guided the study:

  • Has the concentration of student teachers and SBTEs increased?
  • In what ways have the concentration of student teachers and SBTEs been utilized?

Methodology: In the previous study the first step was to map the project organization and to get in contact with vital stakeholders both from university level and municipality level (Blossing, 2004).  In the present study, the second step, statistic material as well as student teachers’ experiences have informed us through different methods:  observations in class rooms, interviews, surveys and seminars (Bryman, 1997). Student teachers and their work-based training has been observed at the advanced teacher training schools and in connection, ten interviews with student teachers were performed. In conjunction with the regular evaluations that follow completed periods of school based studies, questions related to the purpose of the training schools have been added to the survey. 105 student teachers have responded to the survey. In addition seminars have been conducted at four of the advanced teacher training schools led by lecturer from the University which resulted in that SBTEs and student teachers jointly discussed and made notes about their experience of VFU both as student teachers and as SBTEs. The triangulation have aimed to provide a composite picture of the project and demonstrate strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. Both the quantitative and the qualitative material have been compiled and analyzed.

Results: The purpose of the project is to increase the quality of VFU in Teacher Education. The results show that the main purpose to increase the concentration of student teachers at the advanced teacher training schools has not yet been full filled. This can be understood in two ways; on the one hand, there are more students in the areas of advanced teacher training schools, on the other hand, the areas have expanded and include more schools. This means that in practice there can be less student teachers than before in one school and the benefits that can be gained from increased concentration cannot be reached. We are aware of that the outcome of this study is context dependent on a regional level. However, there are a few teacher training schools, especially upper secondary schools where there has been a high concentration of student teachers and qualified SBTEs. These schools and SBTEs have developed the learning environment in several ways, for example joint seminars, group supervising and student-to-student- auscultations. The student teachers at these schools express the benefits of peer learning and flexible ways of being supervised. Overall there is a lack of knowledge of the goal, possibilities and benefits with the advanced teacher training school both among student teachers and SBTEs. However, as this is an ongoing project it is possible to make improvement. The contribution of the present study is to highlight development opportunities as well as demands in relation to quality aspects on VFU in Teacher Education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
student teachers, school-based teacher educators, high concentration
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-138765OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-138765DiVA, id: diva2:1137146
Conference
ECER 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark, 22-25 August, 2017
Available from: 2017-08-30 Created: 2017-08-30 Last updated: 2018-06-09Bibliographically approved

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Leffler, EvaSvedberg, Gudrun

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