Why this workshop at this time? (2007)
“Europeanisation” in higher education has reached a point in time which requires a range of responses at the institutional and disciplinary level. The current situations demands that such responses are based on academic (self-)reflection and that research methods are applied in the process of preparing and discussing reforms in European universities. The academic world is able to provide policy analysis in order to strengthen a process of decision making at institutional level as well as a process of European “concerting”. Education Policy is a genuine task for higher education institutions today.
This is also true in a very particular way for the area of teacher education. During the course of the last two to three decades, Teacher Education has become a large and important segment of higher education with, on average, about 10% of students – future teachers. Furthermore, policy documents at national as well as European levels increasingly stress the importance of pre-tertiary education in implementing Lifelong Learning and building the Knowledge Society. Therefore, Teacher Education could and should respond to the challenges of today in a two ways: an effective Teacher Education Policy should be built in parallel with Education Policy in general, both in national as well as in European contexts.
Teacher Education Policy studies could link several research fields that are inherent to Faculties of Teacher Education giving them an interdisciplinary basis and character: curriculum development, ICT in education, assessment and evaluation, quality issues, equity in education, special needs, education for democratic citizenship, European dimension, etc. Research in Teacher Education Policy is a precondition for an improved governance (quality enhancement, comparability and compatibility of qualifications, etc.) as well as for improved teaching and learning at teacher education institutions (preparation of future teachers, pre-service and in-service courses, graduate programmes, etc.
What can we build on?
In fact, a great deal has been achieved already in the field of Teacher Education Policy studies and any new attempt in this field should build upon previous results achieved either within academic networks (e.g. the Sigma project, TNTEE and its publications, in particular the Green Paper on Teacher Education in Europe, Eudora consortium, etc.) or wider networks (e.g. ENTEP, “Education and Training 2010”, ETUCE, surveys and studies by OECD and UNESCO, etc.
During a period when we move steadily closer to achieving the goal of the European Higher Education Area, declared by the Bologna Process, it is most urgent that these issues are addressed again, from today’s point of view, encountering questions and dilemmas of today and learning from rich European contexts.
What concrete steps can we take?
There are several possible approaches to both the content and form of new possible projects. This is a list of possible options which is neither exclusive and nor closed:
1. An (informal) network of institutions (and/or researchers) who are active in this field and who already run similar projects (e.g. supported by institutional and/or national funds). Such a network offers an added value in mutual exchange of information and in mutual learning. Under certain conditions e.g. achieving a critical mass, it could give the possibility for transformation into a formal network and for application for EU funds.
2. An EU-application for a common TEPE project:
– a consortium of teacher education institutions with a good reputation in research and graduate studies (research projects and publications in the TEPE area as well as a right to undertake Master’s and Doctoral studies are a prerequisite for collaboration) is formed with a double task:
a) to start a comprehensive project on TEPE (key issues, methodology, division of work and organisation are defined together; results are published on the Internet as well as in publications; a set of policy conclusions and recommendations is made at the end);
b) to include their Masters and Doctoral students in the research work in the frame of a (non-formal) “TEPE Doctoral School” based on student and staff mobility (joint research activities and summer schools are organised; students receive credits for their research work and participation in summer schools; these credits are automatically recognised by their home institutions).
3 At a more ambitious level (possibly at the next step of development), a joint Masters and/or Doctoral study programme (Joint Degree) could also be possible after:
a) solving conceptual, formal and procedural problems related to joint degree programmes at the universities involved;
b) defining the essence of research work within such programmes and identifying particular expertise from co-operating institutions;
c) considering whether an Erasmus-Mundus application (and broadening the scope of the project also to non-European spaces) is feasible.
4 At an even more ambitious level, a thematic (TEPE) network could be possible as well (however, on a different horizon than in previous point). A broader circle of teacher education institution – with an initiative group (the core group) in the centre – would gradually organise a European network aiming at e.g.:
a) mapping, analysing and presenting trends in European Teacher Education;
b) engaging in the joint design of – e.g. learning outcomes based revised curricula,
c) including their Master and Doctoral students in the research work and guaranteeing them recognition of credits earned;
d) developing policy recommendations and concrete strategies for institutions of teacher education;
e) broadening the circle of institutions involved and influencing the policy decision processes at institutional, national and European levels.
Intended outcomes of the workshop
By the end of the workshop it is intended that we will have:
• shared our thinking about desired future scenarios within the context of research-based traditions of teacher education
• shared our thinking about the nature of teacher education as a research-based practice in higher education
• shared our thinking about the implications for Teacher Education of “Europeanisation” in general and of the Bologna process in particular
• developed a shared knowledge of what we can build upon
• agreed on a number of concrete steps to advance the standing of Teacher Education and the place of research on teaching and learning in Europe