Zeichner Framework for Studying Teacher Education

Zeichner, K. (2006). Studying teacher education programs: enriching and enlarging the inquiry. In C. F. Conrad & R. C. Serlin (Eds.), The SAGE handbook for research in education: Engaging ideas and enriching inquiry (pp. 79-94).

Summary: In this article, Zeichner comments on the research that has been done teacher education programs to date. He identifies four categories of research on preservice teacher education (1) descriptive survey studies, (2) conceptual, historical, and comparative studies, (3) learning to teach in different settings, and (4) nature and impact studies of various approaches and the political implications of such work. He points out that the lack of common definitions, terms, and frameworks across studies have resulted in little solid research. He recommends that researchers stop identifying teacher education programs solely on their structural characteristics and instead use more descriptive and meaningful characteristics that then might be more useful in helping to inform the research.

Teacher Education As A Field of Study

·      "...only since the 1970s has teacher education research emerged as a legitimate area of doctoral study in graduate schools of education (p. 79)."

·      Division K of AERA was created in 1984

·      Teacher education historically was discipline specific. As a field it is in its infancy.

Varieties of Current Research on Preservice Teacher Education

·      1. Descriptive Survey Studies (Ex. Research About Teacher Education (1987), Abdal-Haqq (1995))

·      2. Conceptual, historical, & comparative studies

o   Impact of external influences on teacher education

o   Multicultural teacher education

o   Feminization of teaching

·      3. Processes of learning to teach in different settings (Ex. Darling-Hammond & Bransford (2005); Borko & Putnam (1996)).

·      4. Nature and impact of various approaches

·      Main Point: "...currently there is little solid research about the impact of different pathways into teaching that can inform policy and practice (p. 83)."

The Idea of a Teacher Education Program

·      Only identifying programs by their structural characteristics (i.e. length of program, when they are offered, sponsoring institution, etc) is flawed. Programs are so diverse that it leaves comparison impossible. Instead, Zeichner recommends the inclusion of additional characteristics such as substance of curricula, institutional and policy contexts in which they exist, admissions requirements, and characteristics of teacher candidates.

·      Programmatic Influences:

o   Type of institution (e.g. liberal arts, research, etc.)

o   State

The Empirical Research on Teacher Education Programs

·      Examined studies between 1985 and 2004

·      Analyzed 37 studies

Problems with the Existing Research

·      "We know very little from these studies about the curriculum and instructional strategies used in the programs or about the social relations among candidates and between candidates and their teacher educators (p. 86)."

In-Depth Case Studies of Teacher Education Programs

·      Two in depth studies were conducted by Darling-Hammond (2000) and National Center for Research on Teacher Education (1991). They produced general characteristics of quality teacher education programs. Zeichner critiques them for being too general but suggests that they provide a basis for research.

Enlarging and Enhancing Research on Teacher Education Programs

·      Zeichner offers a framework as Figure 5.1 for studying the relationships between teacher education programs and teacher and student learning. It looks like the following and is located on p. 89:


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