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Practice Schools, a Swedish National Improvement Program Focusing School Based Studies
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
2019 (English)In: ECER 2019 - European Conference on Educational Research, Hamburg, Germany 3rd-6th September 2019: "Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future", 2019, European Educational Research Association , 2019Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Teacher Education in Sweden, as well as in the rest of Europe, struggle with issues about how to increase the quality of teacher education programs. A strong drive for this is that the quality of Teacher Education has an important impact on pupils' achievement in school (European Commission, 2008). Another reason is that a high quality in education will make teachers more likely to stay in the profession, and thus reduce the lack of teachers. Research has shown that it is a common challenge in the European countries to train and develop student teachers with valid qualifications, both at a practical and scientific level (Råde, 2014). In Sweden a current issue is how to develop the practical part of the teacher student education, the school based studies (SBS), and to link theory to practice and integrate university-based knowledge with work-place knowledge (Karlsson Lohmader (2015). 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. Kelchtermans, G. Smith, K. & Vanderlinde, R. 2018; Valliant and Manso, 2013; Ievers et al., 2013; White, Dickerson & Weston, 2015).

In order to find ways to develop the practical part of student teachers' education, a national improvement program over five years has been launched in Sweden, concerning the establishment of ‘advanced’ education training schools, so called practice schools.  According to the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) decision, 15 Universities have received funding to participate in the improvement program (UKÄ, 2014:2). The programs’ framework is wide and conditions and strategies differ between the Universities. However, three quality aspects have crystallized: concentration, competence and collaboration. A higher concentration of students and competent supervisors (SBTEs) in a school is expected to increase opportunities for sharing experiences. The aspect competence investigates if the Universities contribute with supervisors- training for school based teacher educators (SBTEs) and ensures that there are teachers at the Universities (institute- based teacher educators, IBTEs) which follow up the students' development during school based education (SBE). The aspect collaboration investigate organizational conditions and activities where the Teacher Education and the schools jointly develop student teachers' practical part of their education.

The present study is the third part study of the Swedish national improvement program. The first two studies took a local and a regional perspective. In addition, this study covers a national perspective on the improvement program by answering the following questions:

How have the three quality aspects, concentration, competence and collaboration, developed in the program?

What kind of challenges do the improvement program face?

Method

In the present study statistic material, documents, interviews with project leaders from Universities as well as principals and SBTEs experiences have informed us through different useful methods (Bryman, 1997; Patel & Davidson, 2011) and can be seen as an explorative study. Our aim has been to present the problem area in an overall and a general way by using different methods and information sources. One of the authors has been a part of the Swedish Higher Education Authority assessment group (UKÄ report, 2017) and contributes with knowledge from an interview study on a national level,  which together with knowledge from an ongoing evaluation (both authors)  on a regional level, including interviews with stakeholders,  school leaders and  SBTEs, have formed the basis for this study. The material has been analysed in relation to the quality aspects that have emerged from obstructive as well as supportive aspects. 

Results            

The results show that the 15 Universities have had extensive possibilities to develop their own design of their projects, linked to the improvement program but according to interpretation of the three quality aspects concentration, competence and collaboration. However, consensus prevails in terms of competence and is concretized by: all SBTEs must be given supervisor training. Surprisingly, there is no specific competence demands for IBTEs. All schools have organized for SBTEs to be able to attend a supervisors’ education. The mobility among SBTEs  and IBTEs have been a challenge in the improvement program. Competence has been more connected to the individual rather than a position as SBTEs and IBTEs, which have made the organisation around school based studies vulnerable. The concentration of SBTEs and students have also been affected by the mobility and has given rise to discussions and questioning of the relationship between more students and increased quality. The collaboration between Universities and the schools has in many ways been connected to assessment. The IBTEs visit students during a lesson and afterwards, together with the student and the SBTE, they discuss the lesson and the students’ different abilities and knowledge linked to the course goals, a so called “ three-part-discussion”. From all school units there have been a desire for closer cooperation between school and University to make schools a clearer and more important part of Teacher Education, which has not been the case for several schools. This was one important reason for schools to join the project - a way to increase the opportunities to participate in research projects and/or gain access to current school research.  This democratic way of letting Universities and practice schools develop the VFU in a variety of ways has given important knowledge to the improvement program.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
European Educational Research Association , 2019.
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-164245OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-164245DiVA, id: diva2:1362097
Conference
ECER 2019, European Conference on Educational Research, Hamburg, Germany, 3 - 6 September 2019
Available from: 2019-10-17 Created: 2019-10-17 Last updated: 2019-10-25Bibliographically approved

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Leffler, EvaSvedberg, Gudrun

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