Advising on teacher education

The advisory group on primary and lower secondary teacher courses has now completed the first round of their regional meetings with the educational environments. Around 150 teacher trainers participated in the seminars in Bergen, Tromsø and Drammen.

Pål Aam of NOKUT sits on the advisory group’s secretariat. He believes that the advisory group travelling around Norway and meeting the academic communities will have clear benefits.

“In the regional work seminars, the educational environments have an opportunity to discuss challenges and request the international advisory group’s advice on concrete issues. The seminars run over two days and involve many group discussions, so they get to know each other well. The seminars have provided the advisory group with valuable insight into how the start-up of master’s programmes has gone,” he explained.

“Starting a dialogue with the sector in this way has been key in the advisory group gaining the broadest possible insights into Norwegian primary and lower secondary teacher programmes. The goal is to provide advice where it is needed and reinforce positive developments in the programmes,” he continued.

Helping to boost the new teaching master’s programmes

The new master’s programmes for primary and lower secondary teachers started in autumn 2017. This means that the programmes must become more research-oriented. The Ministry of Education and Research therefore asked NOKUT to establish an international advisory group, which will work with the various educational institutions.

Stephan Hamberg, head of the supervision section is leading the work in NOKUT.

“The purpose of the advisory group is to help ensure that changes to a master’s programme results in good courses for student teachers. The group is tasked with helping to find out how this can be done in practice and at the same time stimulate an academic boost in master’s programmes,” he said.

The advisory group consists of seven highly-regarded educational researchers and teacher trainers from the US, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK.

Hamberg explains that the advisory group has also been asked to explore whether other aspects of Norwegian primary and lower secondary education can be improved. In particular, it will look at issues from previous evaluations of Norwegian teacher education. Together with educational institutions and coordinators, they will look at the interaction between subject didactics, pedagogics and the relationship between theory and practice.

Important to start a dialogue with the sector

The advisory group has held seminars in Bergen and Tromsø. The last seminar was in Drammen.

“We can see that this has worked very well. The institutions that have participated in the seminars are pleased that here they not only meet the advisory group, but also the practice training schools. The discussions between them have been useful,” said Hamberg.

Among the things discussed at the seminar in Drammen were:

  • What is a research and development based primary and lower secondary school teacher education programme and how can research be integrated into the new 5-year master’s programmes?
  • What should the master’s thesis look like and what skills and resources are needed to supervise master’s theses?
  • What is the best possible way of preparing students for practical training and how can we achieve the best possible collaboration between teacher trainers, practical training schools and students?
  • How can Norwegian primary and lower secondary school teacher education programmes become more international?

To pull together the different threads from the regional seminars and decide what the main topics will be going forward, primary and lower secondary school teacher trainers and school people have been invited to a national seminar in Oslo on 28-29 May. Here, the advisory group will get to grips with the topics and challenges that were brought up at the regional seminars.

Meeting the minister in May

In May, the advisory group will also meet the Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, to provide their first advice.

“The advisory group say they have acquired a lot of valuable information through the meetings with the academic environments, which will make the work going forward easier for them. The group is now better able to plan a pathway for the rest of the project period up to when it will provide its advice: first directly to the minister and then in its final report in 2019. NOKUT will meet the project group in February to review the framework factors and legislation with them,” concluded Hamberg.

More regional seminars in the autumn

In autumn 2018, there will be a new round of regional working seminars that will lead up to a national seminar in 2019. Towards the end of 2019, the expert group will submit their final reporting containing their advice for the sector, ministry and NOKUT.

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