Professional preparation

November 24, 2011

Herb Marsh writes in his opinion piece "Help teachers improve their skills or live with the consequences" (10 November): "Universities need to implement programmes to both train and evaluate university teachers..."

Twenty-one years on from Ernest Boyer's Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate, it seems that educationalists are still asking why teacher education is not higher on the agenda (if it is present at all).

In a news story one week before Marsh wrote, Craig Mahoney, chief executive of the Higher Education Academy, noted that mandatory teacher training "is something that might soon become a requirement" ("Sector opposes plans for compulsory teacher training", 3 November).

Surely teacher education is effective - why else would it be mandatory in the schools sector? And indeed, mandatory in a profession (think medicine, law, religion)?

It is no less effective in higher education, as research shows to be the case: teacher education, over a period of time, changes teachers' conceptions of their roles, which in turn changes students' conceptions of learning and their intention to learn in a particular way. Educationalists have knowledge, skills and insights worth sharing with their peers. The problem seems to be the multiple role academics have: researcher, teacher and so on. Which should we be educated to fulfil?

Peter Gossman, Programme leader, postgraduate certificate in professional development in higher education, Glyndwr University

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