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Beitrag 132

Can we educate everyone to be an educator? Should we?


Teacher education has an important responsibility to safeguard the public from incompetent teachers. This places a heavy burden on teacher educators, as not all aspiring teachers are equally suited for the profession, with some requiring more extensive training than others. This raises the question if everyone can be educated to be a good teacher.

Questions along this line inherently cause uncomfortableness in teacher education, as they touch upon the very basis of pedagogy: can everyone be educated? Furthermore, scholars and practitioners in teacher education are often themselves pedagogues, thereby being trained to believe that everyone can be educated. While this believe should be at the heart of every school, its application to occupations needs to be scrutinized. Blindly applying it to teacher education demands from teacher educators that they must be able to make a good teacher out of every student. Such a demand results in a “no student is left behind” mindset.

In other fields, selection procedures (i.e. college admission/personnel selection) are common practice. Selection procedures assume that applicants differ in key attributes relevant for the field. In line with this reasoning, an abundance of meta-analyses has shown that individual differences among applicants offer predictive utility for a wide range of academic and occupational outcome variables; these include but are not limited to better grades and performance ratings, lower attrition, higher satisfaction, and less counterproductive work behaviours.

Before this backdrop, the current talk evaluates the relevance of determinants of academic achievement in teacher education. Firstly, well established determinants of academic achievement are considered, i.e. general mental ability. Secondly, domain-specific personality traits addressing the high psycho-social demands of teaching are considered, i.e. reaction to stress and coping with stress. Finally, determinants of occupational achievement are considered, i.e. realistic job expectations.

When studying academic achievement in teacher education, it is important to consider what sets teacher education apart from other study majors. World-wide, teacher education involves student-teaching. Due to this applied nature of the education, risks of the profession can already be risks during the education. This nature of teacher education suggests differentiating between declarative and procedural knowledge facets of teacher education.

We present longitudinal data of four cohorts of students in teacher education (n=609), from prior to entry into teacher education until degree completion after three years. The determinants of academic achievement were assessed prior to entry into teacher education. Academic achievement was assessed with grade point averages computed separately for courses where students studied (declarative knowledge) and courses where students taught (procedural knowledge). Structural equation modeling was used to test the structural relations between the determinants and grade points averages. The results demonstrate the predictive utility of the three determinants.

Taken together, we argue that students’ individual differences play a vital role in teacher education. Selecting students that are more likely to succeed benefits the institutions, and in turn the students. We argue that it is necessary to go beyond the question if we can educate everyone to be an educator, but to rather question if we should.