ERIC Identifier: ED436486
Publication Date: 1999-11-00
Author: Cobb, Velma L.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
An International Comparison of Teacher Education. ERIC Digest.
As the world increasingly becomes a global society, education is seen by many
as an important avenue for national development. Economic growth, development
and improved living standards are considered to be directly linked to the state
of education. The preparation of new teachers and the ongoing professional
development of those in the current teaching force is key to educational
improvement. (Cobb, Darling-Hammond, & Murangi, 1995). One example of this
thrust is seen in the members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC).
APEC is comprised of eighteen economies that border the Pacific Ocean.
Education, particularly teacher education, surfaced as one of the critical
issues these economies chose to address (see note). This Digest looks at teacher
education goals, candidate selection, the content of teacher education programs,
and student teaching or clinical preparation in selected countries, including
the United States.
NATIONAL GOALS FOR TEACHER EDUCATION
identify "quality teachers" as the goal and focus of their teacher education
programs. Quality teachers are described as having some combination of the
following attributes: pedagogical knowledge, subject area content knowledge,
skills and attitudes necessary for effective teaching, strong understanding of
human growth and child development, effective communication skills, strong sense
of ethics, and capacity for renewal and ongoing learning (Cobb, Darling-Hammond,
& Murangi, 1995).
The social mission of teacher education is quite broad across countries.
Similar to the U.S., France, Germany, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the People's
Republic of China cite the importance of a well-trained teaching force as
essential to preparing students to function competently within an increasingly
technologically information-based society. In many countries, institutions set
their own goals for teacher education programs, although in many cases these
goals are set within a framework of national or state/province articulated
goals. In Japan, France, Germany, and the People's Republic of China, goals for
teacher education are set at the national level. In the U.S., each state sets
standards for teacher education. Approximately 32 states have joined together to
develop model standards for beginning teachers that are compatible with emerging
standards for advanced certification, as currently being developed by the
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Forty percent of U.S.
teacher education programs, representing about 70 percent of teacher candidates,
are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
(NCATE), which uses a common set of standards to evaluate programs that map on
to these model standards for beginning teachers. All other programs go through a
state program approval process using state standards (National Commission on
Teaching & America's Future [NCTAF], 1996).
ENTRY INTO TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS
entry into a teacher education program vary considerably, and most countries
have multiple entry points into the field of teaching. Entry varies by type of
preparing institution and by the school level for which candidates plan to
teach--elementary (primary) or secondary. With the exception of the People's
Republic of China, most countries now require the completion of secondary
education for entry into preparation programs. In the People's Republic of
China, preprimary and primary school teachers typically have completed junior
high school plus a 3- to 4-year teacher training program (State Education
Examinations are common to determine candidates' readiness and capacity for
teacher education programs. In Germany, candidates must take both oral and
written exams (Waldrop, 1991). In the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore,
and the People's Republic of China, all secondary graduates must take a national
exam. In countries where there are no national exams, teacher preparation
institutions set their own criteria for admission, such as in France, New
Zealand, Canada, and Japan. In the U.S., an increasing number of states require
some form of testing before entry into a teacher education program. In addition,
15 states and over 70 percent of colleges have set minimum grade-point averages
for entry into teacher education (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1995).
Candidates' academic achievement is most often assessed through grades and
test scores. Some countries also assess language and communication skills,
conduct interviews, and consider aptitude for leading cocurricular activities.
In some countries student intake in teacher education is determined jointly by
government bodies and the teacher education program. The total number of
candidates admitted is typically based on the supply and demand of teachers
and/or the funding available for candidates (NCTAF, 1996). Such is the case in
Germany, France, and Japan. Usually, the government underwrites some or all of
the costs of education for candidates. For example, in France candidates are
given government stipends and receive a salary in their final year of studies,
which serves as their residency under the supervision of an experienced teacher
In the U.S., Canada, and Japan, there are no set processes in place to
determine the number of students admitted into teacher education. Program size
typically depends on the number of candidates meeting entry requirements and the
admission policies of the institution. In some Canadian provinces, intake quotas
are fixed for specific content areas. In both the U.S. and Canada, the cost of
teacher education is borne by the candidate in the form of tuition payments
(Cobb, Darling-Hammond, & Murangi, 1995).
Traditionally, teachers have been prepared in
normal schools; however, many normal schools have evolved into multipurpose
4-year colleges. Trends show teacher training being embedded in undergraduate
degree programs, the requiring of undergraduate degrees for all teachers, and
extending preparation requirements into graduate-level programs.
Among APEC members, teacher education generally falls into three categories
(Cobb, Darling-Hammond, & Murangi, 1995):
Certificate or diploma programs housed in normal colleges, normal schools, and
colleges of education established solely for the purpose of training teachers.
These programs are usually for elementary teachers and emphasize pedagogical
preparation more than subject area preparation. In most cases these are 2- to
Bachelor's degree programs housed at general, multipurpose universities. These
programs tend to entail greater subject matter preparation and relatively less
pedagogical preparation. These are generally 3- or 4-year programs, with the
teacher preparation portion lasting one to two years.
Master's degree and/or 5th-year programs. These programs are open to candidates
who have completed a bachelor's degree and lead to a master's degree or
postgraduate diploma in education. The duration of these programs ranges from
one to two years.
In the U.S., Canada, and Japan, teachers at all levels are prepared the same.
Candidates are typically prepared through bachelor's degree programs or 5th-year
programs that can lead to a master's degree. Australia, New Zealand, and Hong
Kong have started in the last decade to prepare elementary teachers in programs
that lead to a bachelor's degree.
Though there exist some variations in curriculum content of teacher education
programs, most offer some combination of coursework in subject matter, teaching
methods and materials, child growth and development, and other education courses
such as educational psychology, history and philosophy of education, and
practical teaching experience. The extent of education coursework varies by
grade level to be taught (Cobb, Darling-Hammond, & Murangi, 1996).
In some countries, primary teachers often do not concentrate in a specific
subject area but rather train as generalists to teach across content areas.
However, in the U.S. many states are beginning to require elementary education
candidates to major in a liberal arts discipline while taking the requisite
teacher education courses, rather than majoring in education, as was the case
previously. In Alberta, Canada, and Chinese Taipei, primary education students
must concentrate in a specific subject area in addition to a generalist focus.
And in Hong Kong and Germany, students must concentrate in two subject areas. At
the secondary level, candidates typically major in the subject area they will
teach (NCTAF, 1996).
The U.S., Australia, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, and Hong Kong
allow students already having a bachelor's degree to enter teaching. These
programs are usually one to two years in length and students receive
postgraduate diplomas in teaching and/or a master's degree.
STUDENT TEACHING AND CLINICAL PRACTICE
Student teaching or
a strong clinical practice component is seen as an essential element to teacher
preparation. The duration of such an experience varies widely and appears to be
influenced by teaching level and sometimes the nature of the teacher education
program. Practice teaching experiences for primary teachers range from several
4-week sessions in New Zealand to a full-year internship in Germany, France,
Luxembourg, Belgium, and Chinese Taipei (NCTAF, 1996). Most often, practice
teaching occurs following coursework near the end of the teacher education
program; however, increasingly it is being spread throughout the entire teacher
education program. Candidates are asked to observe classrooms, tutor young
people, and to serve as teacher aides prior to actual practice teaching.
Teachers preparing in Germany face two full years of internship that include
seminar and classroom experiences. College- and school-based faculties observe
and evaluate at least 25 lessons. At the end of this period candidates go
through a variety of portfolio and paper assessments prior to teaching (Waldrop,
In the U.S., student teaching ranges from eight weeks to two full semesters
with most programs averaging 12-15 weeks. Newer graduate-level programs have
begun requiring year-long intensive practice teaching or internship experiences
that are school-based, often in professional development schools.
In New Zealand and Australia, the cooperating teacher, associate teacher, or
tutoring teacher is responsible for mentoring and evaluating student teachers.
In Germany, the U.S., Canada, and Singapore both school- and
college/university-based faculty assess students. The trend towards establishing
specific school and college/university partnerships that create linkages between
teacher education coursework and clinical practice is gaining.
An educated populace is a vital resource for
national growth in a global economy, and teacher education is emerging as an
essential element to improving education. Increasing academic requirements for
higher levels of learning necessitate better- qualified teachers. In the last
decade, teacher education has increasingly become part of degree-granting
colleges or universities; the duration of training has increased; and the
importance of clinical practice through lengthy student teaching experiences
and/or internships has gained prominence.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; most documents (ED) are available in
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through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (800-443-ERIC).
Cobb, V. L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Murangi, K. (1995). Teacher
preparation and professional development in APEC members: An overview of policy
and practice. In L. Darling-Hammond & V. L. Cobb, (Eds.), Teacher
preparation and professional development in APEC members: A comparative study
(pp. 1-16). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. See ED 383 683
Darling-Hammond, L. & Cobb, V. L. (Eds.). (1995). Teacher preparation and
professional development in APEC members: A comparative study. Washington, DC:
U.S. Department of Education. ED 383 683
Holyoake, J. (1993). Initial teacher training: The French view. Journal of
Education for Teaching, 19(2), 215-226. EJ 471 877
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future. (1996). What Matters
Most: Teaching for America's Future. New York: Author. ED 395 931
State Education Commission. (1995). Teacher training and professional
development in China. In L. Darling-Hammond & V. L. Cobb, (Eds.), Teacher
preparation and professional development in APEC members: A comparative study.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. See ED 383 683
Waldrop, T. (1991). Before you lead a German class, you really must know your
stuff. Newsweek, 118, 62-93. NOTE: Participating APEC members include:
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong,
Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and
the United States. All information was self-reported following a jointly
developed, common research framework.