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Beitrag 141

Second-Career Teachers: Learning at University and “Training on the Job”



The Zurich University of Teacher Education is offering a lateral entry course for candidates with former experience in the labour market and holding a bachelor or master’s degree. The career changers’ competences acquired in their first career are assumed to be transferable to the teaching profession, justifying a shorter study program than regular teacher education studies. The lateral entry course can be characterized as a learning-by-doing model with a strong focus on workplace learning. The aim of the presented study is to analyse career changers’ practice-based learning: What are their competences at the start of teacher education? How does their competence-development evolve throughout their studies and through workplace learning? How do they learn at the workplace? How do they assess the support from mentoring lecturers, coaches and other teaching professionals? The model of teachers’ professional development (Baumert & Kunter, 2011) is used as a theoretical framework. We also draw on theories on learning in the workplace (e.g. Billett, 2004; Darling-Hammond, Chung, & Frelow., 2002; Tigchelaar, Vermunt, & Brouwer, 2012) based on concepts such as learning from and through experience (Dewey, 1938) and co-constructive learning through a "knowledgeable other" (Vygotsky, 1978).


The results of a multi-perspective, longitudinal study on the lateral entry courses of the Zurich University of Teacher Education will be presented. Questionnaire data are available on four measurement dates: at the beginning and end of the first academic year, at the end of the second, vocationally integrated academic year and in the middle of the first professional year.


The results show that the knowledge and skills of career changers increase in the first academic year, slightly decrease in the second, vocationally integrated academic year, and in the first professional year the assessments remain approximately the same as at the end of the study course. In the vocationally integrated study phase the career changers attribute a high portion of their learning growth to support received from mentoring lecturers, content-focused coaches and mentoring teachers. For support to prepare lessons, they mainly turn to their mentors. To develop their teaching skills, they get feedback from their content-focused coaches. Systematic induction and support of career change students at schools is rare. The findings show, that receiving professional support from university as well as from schools is crucial for career changers’ competence development.



Baumert, J. & Kunter, M. (2006). Stichwort: Professionelle Kompetenz von Lehrkräften, Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaften, 4, 469-520.

Billett, S. (2004). Workplace participatory practices: Conceptualising workplaces as learning environments. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16 (6), 312-324.

Darling-Hammond, L., Chung, R., & Frelow, F. (2002). Variation in teacher preparation: how well do different pathways prepare teachers to teach? Journal of Teacher Education, 53 (4), 286-302.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & Education. New York: Kappa Delta Pi.
Tigchelaar, A., Vermunt, J.D. & Brouwer, N. (2012). Patterns of development in second-career teachers’ conceptions of learning and teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28 (4), 1163-1174.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.