Competence-based teacher education: illusion or reality? An assessment of the implementation status in Flanders from teachers' and students' points of view
school teacher education
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AbstractSince 1998, the Flanders’ educational government in Belgium has been urging teacher education institutions by decree to implement competences in teacher training programs. Since then, years have gone by, and institutions have acted in order to achieve the competence-based goals. However, have they succeeded in implementing them? This is the research question that is central to the current study. An online survey inquiry was set up in eight elementary teacher education institutions using two questionnaires; one for final year elementary institution preservice teachers, who were about to graduate at the time of completing the questionnaire (N ¼ 218), the other for teacher trainers throughout the elementary teacher training program (N ¼ 51). Ten years after the decree was issued, results show that competence-based education has become a reality in terms of its implementation. However, the process has not yet come to an end. Whereas some competences are clearly present in the institutions’ policies and practices (e.g. teacher as guide to learning and development, teacher as subject expert),others are poorly represented (e.g. teacher as partner of parents, external parties and as a member of the educational community). Moreover, teacher trainers tend to take four different approaches to the implementation of competences (1) during internship, (2) through the institution’s policy and program planning, (3) by means of their integration in both theoretical and practical components of the curriculum and finally, (4) a lack of implementation because the competences are considered insufficiently applicable by the teacher trainers. In particular, more experienced and subject expert teacher trainers tend to adopt the final approach more often than do younger colleagues and pedagogues. Student teachers’ results, on the other hand, suggest important differences between institutions concerning their understanding of competences and the integration of these competences in the curriculum; suggesting different paces of adaptation between teacher education institutions. Moreover, even within schools, the trajectory towards implementation is not always clear for all members of the teaching team, nor for the students of most teacher education institutions. Consequently, there is still important work to be done in order for successful competence-based change to occur.
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