ITEL Teacher Knowledge Survey - Background

 

 

Background

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Researchers and policy makers agree that recruiting, training and retaining quality teachers is key to improving student outcomes. Many OECD countries, however, face the challenge of an ageing teaching workforce, high rates of attrition among new teachers and a shortage of quality teachers in disadvantaged context. In some countries, there is also concern about the quality of teacher education and the attractiveness of the teaching profession. Recruiting high-achieving and motivated candidates into teacher education programmes is a mounting concern.

The Teacher Knowledge Survey is part of a research study designed to investigate how to improve the quality of teachers and teaching. The study’s research questions address current policy challenges experienced by OECD countries.

 

Policy Challenge #1: How can we improve pedagogy for more successful learning?

Teachers’ pedagogical knowledge refers to the specialised body of knowledge for creating effective teaching and learning environments for all students. Research studies have shown that pedagogical knowledge is related to quality teaching and better student learning outcomes. However, the profession’s knowledge base is not static – new knowledge emerges from research or is shared through professional communities. Additionally, teachers are expected to respond to new educational demands, such as developing 21st century skills or teaching more culturally-diverse classrooms.

The following are some of our research questions for investigating how pedagogy can be improved:

  • What is the nature of teachers’ pedagogical knowledge? To what extent do teachers have the knowledge and skills for teaching 21st century skills?
  • What are the knowledge dynamics in the teaching profession? How does new pedagogical knowledge get incorporated into the profession?

Policy Challenge #2: How can we improve teacher education for more successful teaching?

Becoming a quality teacher starts with having access to quality learning opportunities. Research studies have shown that variations in learning opportunities in initial teacher education are related to differences in student achievement as assessed by international studies (such as PISA and TIMSS). Indeed, more than one out of four teachers participating in TALIS 2013 reported not having received any formal training in content or pedagogy in the subjects they teach. The quality of field experiences and the qualifications of teacher educator staff also affect the learning opportunities of student teachers.

The following are some of our research questions for investigating how teacher education can be improved:

  • To what extent do teacher education programmes provide teachers with opportunities to learn the knowledge and skills for effectively teaching students for the 21st century labour market? What is the relationship between pedagogical knowledge and learning opportunities in teacher education?
  •  What is the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and characteristics of teacher education programmes, such as the quality of field experiences and qualifications of teacher educators?

Policy Challenge #3: How can we improve the selection, retention and professional development of teachers?

High-quality initial teacher education is just the first step in the continuous professionalisation of teachers. This process also involves professional development and the regular updating of teachers’ knowledge and skills. It is thus important to select candidates who not only show predispositions for the teaching profession, but who are driven to continue to develop their practice. Empirical studies have shown that teachers’ beliefs, motivation, and their willingness to engage in professional development are related to job satisfaction and well-being, as well as better instructional quality and student achievement gains.

The following are some of our research questions for investigating how the selection, retention and professional development of teachers can be improved:

  • How do teachers’ motivational characteristics relate to the quality of pedagogical knowledge?
  • Is there a relationship between institutional characteristics, opportunities to learn pedagogy, and teachers’ motivational characteristics?
  • How does the quality of pedagogical knowledge and opportunities to learn relate to persistence in the profession?

 

Conceptual Framework of the Teacher Knowledge Survey 

The conceptual framework underpinning the study is positioned within a larger framework of teachers’ overall professional competence, as illustrated in the diagram below:

 

 

 

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