In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Pre-Service Teacher Education

  • Introduction
  • Culture of Education
  • Principles
  • Curriculum
  • Linking Theory and Practice
  • Pedagogy
  • Teacher Education Program Structure
  • The Practicum
  • Research
  • Diversity and Exceptionality
  • Reflective Practice
  • Action Research and Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
  • Recruitment, Selection, and Retention of Teachers

Education Pre-Service Teacher Education
Tom Russell, Andrea K. Martin
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 September 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0114


The extensive literature on pre-service teacher education offers frequent calls for innovation and change as well as countless insights into many aspects of a complex learning experience that is still poorly understood. This literature also demonstrates clearly that change comes slowly if at all, in part because each national, state, or provincial context is unique in its history. Pre-service teacher education programs vary considerably in duration, emphasis on subject content or pedagogy, length of practicum periods, and requirements for teacher certification. Twelve topics provide the structure of this bibliography, beginning with documents that offer insights into the culture of pre-service teacher education. This is followed by sections on the principles and curriculum of pre-service teacher education. One of the major challenges faced by pre-service teacher education is the focus of the next section, Linking Theory and Practice. This topic is followed by works that speak to the pedagogy of teacher education and a section Teacher Education Program Structure. Every pre-service teacher education program includes field experiences, including firsthand experience in school classrooms. This topic is explored under the heading of The Practicum. The next heading, Research, highlights major works in a rich and complex domain that seeks to better understand how people learn to teach. The section Diversity and Exceptionality highlights works in two domains that are increasingly challenging for both new and experienced teachers. Terms such as “reflection” and “reflective practice” have become permanent items in the lexicon of teaching and teacher education, and these are featured under Reflective Practice. Two additional topics that are relatively new to the practice of pre-service teacher education are discussed in the section Action Research and Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices; the latter topic focuses on the activities of those who teach pre-service teachers. Finally, this bibliography concludes with the section Recruitment, Selection, and Retention of Teachers.

Culture of Education

The culture of pre-service teacher education is firmly anchored in the culture of education itself. The interactions that Bruner 1996 explores, what Bruner describes as the “cultural fit” between the needs of the culture and the needs of its members and their varied ways of knowing, is a lens for Goodlad 1990 and a precursor to the Labaree 2004 assessment of “ed schools.” Cochran-Smith 2004 provides insight into enduring issues over the last fifty years that are associated with the culture of teacher education. Cochran-Smith contends that the “problem of teacher education” is not intended to be pejorative but rather is a way of framing the challenges of preparing highly effective teachers; the challenges to make explicit the connections between teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices and what their students are learning; and the challenges of educational policies that are delimiting and often ill informed by empirical evidence and that ignore the heterogeneity of school cultures. For educational researchers and practitioners alike, these have been enduring issues. The thoughtful analysis in Feiman-Nemser and Floden 1986 of the cultures of teaching is prescient and attests to how enduring the problems of teacher education appear to be. Against this backdrop, one can better understand why initiatives for change can be so difficult to achieve, which Sarason 1996 speaks to with passion and insight as the author examines the culture of the school and university. Introducing the perspective of the student, Cook-Sather 2002 also addresses change and intractability, arguing that students’ voices must not continue to be silenced, a sobering reminder to educators and educational researchers that authorizing students’ perspectives will also require changes to mindset and to institutional structures that have precluded dialogue and discourse that validates their voices. Both mindset and institutional structures are reflected in Lortie 1975. Lortie’s development of the concept of “apprenticeship of observation” underscores the impact of the countless hours that students spend in schools observing their teachers and their teaching practices. As a consequence, beginning teachers often underestimate the complexity of teaching and hold onto teaching habits that they have observed rather than adopting more current, research-based practices. Teacher educators must continue to address these predetermined notions if they are to enable prospective teachers to develop effective practices that support student learning.

  • Bruner, Jerome. 1996. The culture of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    A seminal collection of essays that situates education and school learning within cultural psychology, arguing that it is culture that shapes how learning unfolds and how one comes to understand oneself, one’s abilities, and one’s world.

  • Cochran-Smith, Marilyn. 2004. The problem of teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education 55: 295–299.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022487104268057

    This editorial considers teacher education as a training problem, a learning problem, and a policy problem.

  • Cook-Sather, Alison. 2002. Authorizing students’ perspectives: Toward trust, dialogue, and change in education. Educational Researcher 31.4: 3–14.

    DOI: 10.3102/0013189X031004003

    Ironically, those who have been least consulted about educational policy and practice are the students who are most directly affected. To authorize students’ perspectives, a change in mindset is needed as well as changes in the structures for participation.

  • Feiman-Nemser, Sharon, and Robert E. Floden. 1986. The cultures of teaching. In Handbook of research on teaching. 3d ed. Edited by Merlin C. Wittrock, 505–526. New York: Macmillan.

    A historical lens on understanding the heterogeneity of teaching cultures; the need to reexamine policies and procedures on induction programs, reward structures, and teacher preparation; and recommendations for multidisciplinary inquiry into the cultures of teaching that are of continuing interest.

  • Goodlad, John I. 1990. Teachers for our nation’s schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    A classic five-year study that reveals undermining conditions for teacher education in the United States: low prestige, teaching as secondary to research and publishing, and crippling state-mandated curriculum and credentialing requirements. Nineteen postulates to redress these conditions are proposed.

  • Labaree, David F. 2004. The trouble with ed schools. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

    An engaging exploration of the low status of education schools in the United States that addresses not only weaknesses but potential strengths. Current issues are examined against a historical backdrop.

  • Lortie, Dan C. 1975. Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    This frequently cited sociological classic introduces the idea of an apprenticeship of observation to help to explain why beginning teachers have such well-established teaching habits before they begin a pre-service teacher education program.

  • Sarason, Seymour B. 1996. Revisiting “The culture of the school and the problem of change.” New York: Teachers College.

    A classic in the analysis of school and university culture, seeking to explain why change is so elusive. Provides significant insights into long-standing educational traditions that are deeply embedded in the culture of schooling.

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