José Ignacio Rivas-Flores
Teaching’s purpose is to build a society’s knowledge and skills through a group of students using a curricular proposal within a social and institutional framework. It therefore takes place in institutions specifically created for this purpose, which, as such, represents a culturally constructed environment that is in line with the conditions of the society in which this process unfolds. Thus professional cultures have been historically constructed according to the working conditions, the teaching experiences transmitted from generation to generation, and the evolution of the educational systems. In addition, institutional cultures are developed according to the particular history of each school. Student cultures also form as social groups within these institutions. This represents a complex system that goes beyond mere instruction by curriculum. Preparing the professionals who will go on to work in these institutions requires an understanding of these cultural frameworks and the competence to be able to act on them. Ethnographic research promotes an understanding of educational reality from a critical reflective perspective, and this is only possible if researchers themselves participate in those frameworks. Ethnography can be understood as a shared construction of places for reflection, aimed at comprehending the cultural, social, and political phenomena that involve participants in the processes of change and transformation. Teacher preparation must, therefore, be established with an ethnographic approach, which reconstructs the school experience from a critical reflective perspective. In this way, the conditions for developing a professional identity based on the reconstruction of this experience are created. The theories, in this case, offer the opportunity to pursue this critical dialogue, breaking away from the prescriptive role that they adopt from a positivist perspective. Ethnography contributes to the tasks through three basic dimensions. First, teacher preparation throughout is an object of educational inquiry: there are many research studies of an ethnographic nature that report teacher training methods in an attempt to understand the processes taking place. Second, ethnographies are a tool for preparing future teachers: in this case, this refers to a curricular use of ethnography aimed at future teachers’ understanding of the educational processes through research. Third is a way of understanding learning—in other words, ethnographic attitude as a learning strategy and the use of ethnographic inquiry strategies and tools as means of learning about educational processes. This last case generally entails staying and acting in schools, and it is what most clearly links research and teaching in a shared process.
Lawrence J. Maheady and Angela L. Patti
Teacher preparation programs are undergoing a shift from knowledge-based to practice-based, meaning the emphasis is on what teacher candidates can do, rather than what they know. In light of this movement, high leverage practices (HLPs)—a set of core practices that educational experts agree all teachers should be able to do upon entering the teaching field—have been developed in several different educational areas (e.g., general education and special education). As experts develop sets of HLPs, they identify practices that (a) are researched based, (b) are often used by teachers during the school day, (c) can be applied across grade levels and subject areas, (d) are fundamental to student learning, and (e) can be taught, practiced, and developed to some degree of fluency by teachers entering the profession. The idea is that these practices can be used as a core curriculum for teacher preparation programs. While initial work with HLPs is promising, additional questions must be answered before moving forward. Institutions of higher education that choose to use HLPs to frame their teacher preparation programs need to determine (a) which HLPs to use, (b) how to integrate HLPs into the program, (c) how to assess teacher candidate fluency with HLPs, and (d) how to evaluate the effects of HLPs on P–12 students. As these questions are answered, further light can be shed on what truly makes a practice worthy of the designation “high leverage.”
Christopher DeLuca and Heather Braund
A standards-based accountability paradigm of education currently shapes teaching and learning in many schools around the world. This paradigm is characterized by increased academic standards and greater levels of assessment throughout learning periods. Across policy and curriculum documents, teachers are called to implement assessments to monitor, support, and report on student learning. Assessments can be formative (i.e., used to inform teaching and learning processes) or summative (i.e., used to communicate achievement through grades) and based on a variety of evidence (e.g., tests, performance tasks, conversations, observations, and so on).
Given the growing emphasis on assessment as a dominant aspect of contemporary teaching and learning, there is a need for teachers to be assessment literate. The term assessment literacy was initially used to refer to the knowledge and skills teachers required in the area of assessment, historically with a strong focus on principles of measurement and test design. Over the past decade, however, the concept of assessment literacy has evolved. Newer notions of assessment literacy have moved away from demarcating the knowledge and skills needed for competency in assessment and instead recognize that assessment literacy is a contextual and social practice that requires teachers to negotiate their knowledge of assessment in relation to their pedagogy, curriculum, and classroom contexts. Central to this conception is the view that teacher assessment literacy is both sociocultural and contextual, shaped by various factors including teacher background, experience, professional learning, classroom context, student interactions and behaviors, curriculum, and class diversity.
With the increased role of assessment in schools, pressure has been placed on initial teacher education programs to prepare beginning teachers with the necessary capacity to become assessment literate. While much of the existing research in the area of assessment education has focused on the value of discrete courses on teacher learning in assessment or on specific pedagogical approaches to enhancing student learning in assessment, results continue to point toward the need for more comprehensive preparation of teachers for the current standards-based paradigm of education. Accordingly, two frameworks for assessment education are described that consider multiple dimensions to preparing assessment literate teachers. These frameworks are DeLuca’s Assessment Education Framework and Xu and Brown’s Teacher Assessment Literacy in Practice Framework. These assessment education frameworks were selected as they work within a contemporary constructivist and sociocultural view of assessment literacy.
The two frameworks suggest areas for teacher education that not only include the fundamentals for assessment literacy but also move beyond the fundamentals to engage the messier dimensions of what it means to do assessment work in schools. In both cases, student teachers are pressed to make connections and challenged to enact ideas in context to refine and synthesize their thinking. Xu and Brown detailed the macro- and micro-level influences that further shape assessment decisions in action. The composite picture is that learning to assess is not a neat and tidy enterprise of textbook curriculum. Instead, it is about learning foundational ideas and building an integrated stance toward teacher as assessor through contextualized reflective learning. Driving this learning is an enduring understanding that one’s assessment literacy is always in the making—a continuously evolving competency in relation to new contexts and experiences.
Margaret L. Niess
The 21st-century explosion and decisive impact of digital media on education has highlighted the need for rethinking the required teacher knowledge for guiding students in taking advantage of improved technological affordances. The reformed teacher knowledge, called technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK or TPACK), is knowledge reflecting a dynamic equilibrium for the interaction of technology, pedagogy, and content. The intersection of these three knowledge domains reveals four additional subsets: technological pedagogical knowledge, technological content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and technological pedagogical content knowledge. The summation of these domains resides within the intellectual, social, and cultural contexts of education, to reveal the knowledge known as TPCK/TPACK. Teacher educators, researchers, and scholars have been and continue to be challenged with identifying appropriate experiences and programs for assessing and developing this teacher knowledge for integrating digital technologies as learning tools in reformed educational environments. Two questions guide this review of the literature surrounding the active, international scholarship and research toward understanding the nature of TPCK/TPACK and guiding the development of teachers’ TPCK/TPACK. The response to the first question describes the nature of this teacher knowledge for the digital age and how it differs from prior descriptions of teachers’ knowledge. The response to the second question explores the research and scholarship unveiling how this knowledge is developed and assessed at the pre-service and in-service teacher levels. From this scholarly work, three distinct views on the nature of TPCK/TPACK are proposed to explain various approaches in how this teacher knowledge is both developed and assessed in pre-service and in-service preparation programs. The integrated, heterogeneous vision recognizes the distinctness of the multiple subsets in the model and calls for specific preparation in each of the domains as key to developing the teacher knowledge for the digital age. The transformative, homogeneous vision considers the knowledge as a whole, composed through the integration of the multiple subset. Through the educational processes, the multiple subsets are rearranged, merged, organized, integrated and assimilated in such a way that none are any longer individually discernible. The third vision, called the distinctive vision, acknowledges the critical nature of the primary domains of pedagogy, content and technology and proposes the value of preparing teachers in each of these distinct domains. Supporting teachers for gaining the TPCK/TPACK-based knowledge, the preparation must respond to changes in content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological knowledge. These cumulative scholarly efforts provide a launchpad for future research focused on developing teachers’ knowledge for teaching in the digital age.