ERIC Identifier: ED279642
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Ducharme, Edward R.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education Washington DC.
Teacher Educators: What Do We Know? ERIC Digest 15.
Little is known about "teacher educators," the higher education faculty
responsible for teacher preparation. Reasons include the lack of a definition
and consequent difficulty in identifying the population, scarcity of research on
teacher educators specifically, and inclusion of teacher educators in research
on the education professoriate generally. This digest describes the definitional
problem, summarizes information from education professoriate research, and
suggests needed research.
PROBLEMS OF DEFINITION
For some, the term teacher educator
includes all who instruct prospective and practicing teachers from the
instructor of freshman composition to the instructor of learning theory. For
others, the term includes only instructors of professional teacher education
courses such as methods of teaching reading. A rationale for the first is that
all teacher education students take more than half of their coursework with arts
and sciences faculty (Kluender 1984). Yet nearly all these faculty do "teacher
education" work only because some of their students are from teacher education
programs. Arts and sciences faculty are not subject to review by the school,
college, or department of education at the institution in which they teach. They
do not view themselves as teacher educators, but rather as professors in
The second definition has the advantage of including only those who provide
professional coursework and experiences for teacher education students. The
disadvantage is that, except in rare instances (Carter 1981, Carter 1984),
researchers have not singled out this population for study. In her 1984 chapter,
Carter limited her sample "to university-based teacher educators who hold
faculty appointments within the schools, colleges, or departments of education."
Few studies have had such a clearly delimited population. Unfortunately, for
purposes of wide applications of her work, Carter had only 28 subjects.
There has been considerable recent research on the education professoriate, a
population that includes most of those providing professional teacher education.
But the population also includes educational researchers and those who teach
educational measurement and statistics at the graduate level, educational
administration courses for school principals, and guidance and counseling
courses for the school psychologists. While inferences about teacher educators
are drawn from studies of education faculty, some question the validity of these
PROFILES OF THE EDUCATION PROFESSORIATE
education are caught between the traditional scholarship and research norms of
higher education and the professional and technical demands of practitioners.
Campus colleagues may see them as pragmatic, unscholarly, and service-oriented, "anti-intellectuals in the house of intellect," while teachers in the public
schools may see them as aloof and academic (Ducharme and Agne 1982).
Recent descriptions of the education professoriate include Wisniewski's
(1986) portrait of the "ideal professor of education" and Ducharme and Agne's
(1982) stereotypes (Ivory Tower, Schoolteacher, Non-Academic) emerging from
their study of 340 professors in diverse institutions. Ducharme (1985) later
elaborated to include five profiles of education faculty: the schoolperson who
values practical experience in the lower school over involvement in higher
education; the scholar who deprecates lower school experience in favor of
academic pursuits and campus activities; the researcher with minimal lower
school experience and an accompanying disdain for practical studies; the
methodologist committed to linking theory and practice; and the "visitor to a
strange planet," ambivalent about both the lower schools and higher education,
unsure of self and role in the institution.
The varied types of institutions in which education faculty serve complicate
the problem of generalizing research findings. Gideonse (1983) described the
range as "...public and private (some church-related), large and small, single
purpose or multipurpose, urban, rural, and in between, baccalaureate, graduate,
or both, almost exclusively oriented toward research or engaging in none at
STATUS: PERCEPTIONS AND SCHOLARSHIP
Unanimity exists on the
low esteem of the education professoriate in the academic community. Lanier and
Little (1986) hypothesize that low scholarship productivity causes the low
status, a situation they attribute to lower middle class, often
anti-intellectual origins of many education faculty. They portray education
faculty as conformist and inflexible.
Others see a different picture of education faculty scholarship. Wisniewski
(1986) contends that education faculty merely reflect the relatively low
scholarly output of all higher education groups. Ducharme and Agne (1982) report
the publication rate of the 340 education faculty in their study as comparable
to that of higher education faculty in general.
Education faculty are likely to have
bachelors degrees in fields other than education, generally in a traditional
content area such as English, history, or mathematics. They have attended more
than one graduate institution for advanced degree work and acquired their
doctoral degrees at a slightly later age than colleagues in other academic
units, often on a part-time basis (Carter 1981; Ducharme and Agne 1982). Once
they were somewhat less likely to possess the doctorate than faculty in other
departments, but now they are as likely or more likely to have the degree.
ATTITUDES TOWARD RESPONSIBILITIES
Education professors are
like their counterparts throughout higher education in their preference for
teaching and related tasks such as advising and in the proportion of time
allotted to the activities. Ducharme and Agne (1982) found professors of
education devoted substantial time, energy, and commitment to these activities.
Teaching was the first priority of more than 65% of the faculty, a preference
they did not think characterized their institutions' priorities. Boyer (1986)
reports that even in research universities, 40% of faculty prefer teaching to
Professors of education often maintain their connections with public schools.
More than 70% have had previous full-time public school positions (Carter 1984;
Ducharme and Agne 1982), and more than 60% reported consultative relationships
with the schools in a two-year period.
CONCLUSIONS AND RESEARCH DIRECTIONS
Most of the knowledge
about teacher educators is inferred from research on the education professoriate
broadly defined. Too many generalizations about teacher educators are made from
this broad research base. There is a need to narrow the research population to
teacher educators, which necessitates a workable definition. In any study,
discussion, or publication about teacher educators, it is important to maintain
precision in terminology.
Once a satisfactory definition is achieved, research outlined by Troyer
(1986) should follow. She suggests studying abilities, values and attitudes,
characteristics, expectations, and work activities; roles, difficulties,
strengths and weaknesses; the influence of faculty involvement in research on
teacher education programs; relationship with the university and faculty in
other departments; and success in teaching effective classroom teaching
behaviors to teacher candidates. Edward R. Durcharme University of Vermont
Many of the following references-those
identified with an EJ or ED number-have been abstracted and are in the ERIC
database. The journal articles should be available at most research libraries.
The documents with an ED number are available on microfiche at more than 700
locations nationwide. Documents with ED numbers are also available on paper copy
from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service. Call (800) 227-ERIC for price and
Boyer, E. College: The Undergraduate Experience in America. Princeton, N.J.:
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1987.
Carter, H. Teacher Educators: A Descriptive Study. University of Texas,
Research and Development Center for Teacher Education. 1981. ED 255 354.
Carter, H. "Teachers of Teachers." In Advances in Teacher Education. edited
by L. Katz and J. Raths. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1984.
Ducharme, E. and R. Agne. "The Educational Professoriate: A Research Based
Perspective." Journal of Teacher Education 33,6 (November-December 1982): 30-36.
Ducharme, E. "Teacher Educators: Description and Analysis." In Advances in
Teacher Education, Volume II, edited by J. Roths and L. Katz. Norwood, N.J.:
Ablex Publishing Corporation. 1985.
Gideonse, H. In Search of More Effective Services. Cincinnati, Ohio:
Kluender, M. "Teacher Education Programs in the 1980s: Some Characteristics."
Journal of Teacher Education 35,4 (July-August 1984): 33-35.
Lanier, J. and J. Little. "Research on Teacher Education." In Handbook of
Research on Teaching, Third Edition, edited by M. Wittrock. New York: Macmillan,
Troyer, M. "A Synthesis of Research on the Characteristics of Teacher
Educators." Journal of Teacher Education 37,5 (September-October 1986): 6-11.
Wisniewski, R. "The Ideal Professor of Education." Phi Delta Kappan 68,4
(December 1986): 288-292.