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close this bookThe MUSTER Synthesis Report - Researching Teacher Education: New Perspectives on Practice, Performance and Policy (CIE, 2003, 237 p.)
close this folderCHAPTER 4: WHO BECOMES A PRIMARY TEACHER?
View the document4.0 Summary
View the document4.1 Introduction and Overview
View the document4.2 Characteristics of the Student Teachers Entering College
View the document4.3 Trainees' Perceptions of Teaching and the Teaching Profession
View the document4.4 Images, Experiences and Role Identity
View the document4.5 Concluding Discussion

4.1 Introduction and Overview

Any effective system of teacher education has to recognise and build on the characteristics and motivations that trainees bring to the profession when they enter training programmes. Understanding what these characteristics are provides a basis for the development of curricula that address trainees' needs and capabilities. It is also a reminder to teacher trainers that the backgrounds and aspirations of those entering training now may not be the same as in the past. Where this is so it invites consideration of how training content and methods should change to reflect new realities.

This chapter exemplifies how different methodological frameworks were used within MUSTER. The questionnaires administered to entering students provided some systematic comparative data on age, sex, religion, ethnicity, prior experience, home background and academic achievement. The Likert items and open-ended sections of the questionnaires provided further insights to complement and deepen this information. Other methods - semi-structured interviews, focus groups and autobiographical essays - were used to try to understand some of the ways in which early experiences of schooling might influence the ways trainees perceived themselves as teachers. The more qualitative studies were designed and implemented in different ways by the different researchers, and the interpretations were site-specific, the intention being to gain insights rather than draw comparisons. Chapter 2 has given more details of the methods and samples used.

The Chapter is organised in four parts. First, the characteristics of trainee teachers in four countries are outlined from the survey data. Second, the perceptions of trainees of teaching and the teaching profession are discussed using data from Likert items in the Entry questionnaire. Third, insights are drawn from qualitative data to illuminate some of the experiences and images of schools and teaching students bring to their training. The last section attempts to bring together insights from all the data sets to point up the implications for policy and action.