Improving Initial Teacher Education in Australia: Solutions and Recommendations from the Teaching Teachers for the Future Project

Improving Initial Teacher Education in Australia: Solutions and Recommendations from the Teaching Teachers for the Future Project

Glenn Finger
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8162-0.ch010
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Initial teacher education (ITE) programs are subject to agencies which shape and define them through regulatory accreditation processes (Lloyd, 2013a, 2013b). This chapter argues that the design of ITE programs needs to build the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) capabilities (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, 2008) of future teachers. After establishing that there are both accountability and improvement agendas, this chapter outlines the Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) Project, which involved all 39 Australian Higher Education Institutions providing ITE programs in Australia. The TTF Project was a 15 month long, $8 million project, funded by the Australian Government's ICT Innovation Fund which adopted an approach reflecting an improvement agenda. The TTF Project is discussed in terms of the TPACK conceptualisation guiding the project, and the research and evaluation of that project. The TTF Project's key outcomes are summarised, and these inform the presentation of solutions and recommendations.
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Introduction: Initial Teacher Education In Australia

In Australia, there is very strong evidence of an ongoing quality teacher agenda, reflected in numerous reviews of initial teacher education (ITE) and the development of strategic approaches at the national and jurisdictional levels of each State and Territory. Specifically, in 2014, a Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group was established to provide advice to the Australian Government on “how teacher education programmes could be improved to better prepare new teachers with the practical skills needed for the classroom” (Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, 2014, p. 2). The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group Issues Paper (Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, 2014) acknowledges that additional reviews, inquiries and changes to teacher education have been undertaken in the following jurisdictions. These include reforms to attract quality teacher education students, and improve their preparation for teaching:

  • New South Wales:Great Teaching, Inspired learning: Blueprint for Action (New South Wales Government Education and Communities, 2014).

  • Victoria:From New Directions to Action: World class teaching and school leadership (Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2013).

  • Queensland:A Fresh Start: Improving the preparation and quality of teachers for Queensland schools (Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2013).

  • South Australia:Building a Stronger South Australia: High Quality Education (Government of South Australia, 2013).

These reviews, reports and initiatives illustrate the accountability and improvement agendas in ITE in Australia. In the report Troubled Times in Australian teacher education: 2012-2013 (Lloyd, 2013a), ten interdependent tensions were identified in the context of a highly regulated ITE environment; namely, Authority, Knowledge, Graduate identity, Literacy and Numeracy, Entry and Participation, Early Years, Crowded Curriculum, Teacher Educators, Public Perceptions, Policy Pendulum. From her audit process, analysis, and related methodological approaches in her study, Lloyd (2013a) suggests that there is a need to “temper the identified tensions” (p. 8), and identified seven considerations for addressing these; i.e.

  • 1.

    Establish a hierarchy of agencies, streamline the process,

  • 2.

    Redistribute the responsibility, reduce duplication,

  • 3.

    Reconsider the use of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APSTs) in accreditation,

  • 4.

    Question the representation of teacher knowledge,

  • 5.

    Break the nexus between qualification, registration and employment, extend the continuum,

  • 6.

    Set expectations for teacher educators, expand the definition,

  • 7.

    Frame the future with care.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teaching Teachers for the Future (TTF) Project: Funded through the ICT Innovation Fund, the TTF Project in Australia focused on producing teacher graduates who were confident to incorporate ICT into teaching, with special attention to the English, Mathematics, Science and History learning areas of the Australian Curriculum.

Internet: Worldwide system of interconnected computer networks through which information can be exchanged and communication can take place.

Education Services Australia: Education Services Australia (ESA) is a national, not-for-profit company owned by all Australian education ministers, and works closely with the Australian, Curriculum and Assessment Authority (ACARA) and the Australian Institute of School Leadership (AITSL).

Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Programs: These are tertiary programs which are accredited by relevant regulatory authorities to produce teacher graduates.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers: These are professional standards developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and outline the professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement expectations of teachers in four stages of career progression; namely Graduate, Proficient, Highly Accomplished and Lead.

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): Developed by Mishra and Koehler (2006) , TPACK builds upon Shulman’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) to provide a framework to understand the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK), and enables TPACK is a conceptualisation that that there are three knowledges for teachers - Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), Technological Content Knowledge (TCK), Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), and the intersection of all three circles is called Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK).

BYOT/BYOD/BYOA: Bring your own technology (BYOT), Bring your own device (BYOD) and Bring your own apps (BYOA) refers to models to assist school resourcing whereby students can use their own technologies and applications for learning.

Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT): The Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) is funded by the Australian Government to promote excellence in learning and teaching in Higher Education Program, and promotes and supports change in higher education institutions for the enhancement of learning and teaching.

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