Consolidating research in Australian teacher education

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The Workshop objectives are to:

  • analyse the map of past, current and planned research in teacher education in Australia, the core questions and issues being addressed and the implications for future directions that can build substantial programs of research that can be cumulative, longitudinal and sustainable
  • identify specific conceptual and methodological resources which could help to address gaps in research and/or draw together existing research into larger programs, with particular emphasis on analysis across cases and links between practitioner and academic research
  • develop a national research program agenda within which shared projects and collaborative efforts can occur across institutions and disciplines, with strategies to assist such cooperative activities and their dissemination
  • commence planning for cooperative and parallel studies in teacher education for the ‘global south’, recognizing the need for relational analysis that does not automatically foreground European and American scholarship.

Rationale: Consolidating research and scholarship in Australian teacher education is an urgent need at the present time of social and political concerns for national security, sustainability and equity, with arguments about teacher quality and supply remaining at the forefront of national policy agendas. As a key social policy issue, teacher education is a major area of academic endeavour, with students comprising almost 10% of domestic student numbers in Australia. There is evidence that Australian education academics are internationally well-recognised in scholarly citations and have wide impact in related professional settings (ARC 2007). However, teacher education as a research field is not as well developed in Australia, at a time when there is increased international attention to questions of teacher education in policy and research (OECD 2005; Cochran-Smith 200). A recent review of teacher education research (Murray et al 2008) concluded that Australian research in the field is predominantly fragmentary, non-cumulative and parochial, with little longitudinal, cumulative or meta-analytic work to produce oversight and clear direction for policy and practice.

In order to consolidate the scholarly issues and chart new directions for research in teacher education, Charles Sturt University’s Faculty of Education in collaboration with the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education [RIPPLE] recently sponsored a two-day invitational symposium, including three key international and ten key Australian teacher education researchers in a two day-discussion with CSU researchers in teacher education and field representatives from all education sectors. One key issue raised was the need for a cumulative program of connected multi-disciplinary and multi-focused work in teacher education that concerns itself with issues of practice and policy, curriculum and pedagogy across the continuum of preparatory, transitional, and continuing teacher education, and involves both universities and the profession. One of the clear conclusions from this symposium was the need to develop a broader set of research programs across institutions: programs that could build on work to date, forge international networks, and ensure cumulative rather than fragmented or ‘sporadic’ work. At the same time, the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE) has initiated a scoping study for a proposed national Data Repository for teacher education, funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, while other initiatives such as Raewyn Connell’s recent seminar series on ‘The Good Teacher’ at the University of Sydney (May-June 2008) have meant that the current moment presents a rare opportunity for shaping the development of teacher education research and scholarship into the next decade, paying attention to national and regional issues. Thus, the proposed workshop will follow up and consolidate these initiatives, bringing together key scholars across the country, covering Go8, ATN, and Regional universities, with a special emphasis on those with a history of research and scholarship in the area.

References
  • Australian Research Council (ARC) 2007, ARC Annual Report 2006-07, ARC, Canberra, viewed 29 July 2008 ( on p.56, the ARC noted: “In 2006 Thomson Scientific reported that, for the five years from 2001 to 2005, Australia’s share of science and social science papers was 2.91 per cent of the world total. Of the 114 047 research papers indexed that listed at least one author address in Australia, the highest percentage (5.44 per cent) appeared in journals classified under the heading of education, followed by plant and animal sciences (5.30 per cent) and geosciences (5.02 per cent).”)
  • Cochran-Smith, M. (2005). The new teacher education: For better or for worse? Educational Researcher, 34(6), 181-206.
  • Murray, S., Nuttall, J. & Mitchell, J. (2008) ‘Research into Initial Teacher Education in Australia: A Survey of the Literature 1995-2004’. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1).
  • OECD (2005). Teachers Matter: Attracting, ,Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers. Paris: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

    ABN: 59 957 839 703
  • Location: 26 Balmain Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
  • Postal: GPO Box 1956, Canberra, ACT 2601
  • +61 .2 62491788
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  • secretariat@assa.edu.au

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