Pedagogy in Further Education and Vocational Teacher Education - view as single page

Sources of evidence

The evidence presented here is primarily from the research carried out by the author for his PhD, which was a study of the professional situation of English FEVTE Teacher Educators (TEds), and their future professional development. The research engaged in excess of 250 FEVTE TEds.

A key source for this MESH guide is the literature review carried out as part of the research. Additional relevant research is also utilised where it adds to the guide, and sources or resources included.

Additional more recent relevant research is also utilised where it adds to the guide, and sources or resources included.

Main source

Crawley, J (2014) How can a deeper understanding of the professional situation of LLS teacher educators enhance their future support, professional development and working context? PhD thesis, Bath Spa University



Strength of evidence and Translation rating

The evidence provided in this MESH guide is robust and allows for translation into other areas of teacher education, particularly all teacher educators’ professional development regardless of the education sector or age range for which they are educating and student teachers. Teacher Educators do not have any recognised professional development to become teacher educators, which means this guide to underpin any development of this kind would be incredibly useful and allow for a fully informed provision in translating this research for knowledge mobilisation.

Dr Tanya Ovenden-Hope, Editor



Apple, M.W. (2009) in Zeichner, K.M. (2009) Teacher Education and the struggle for social justice. Abingdon: Routledge

Ben-Peretz, M., Kleeman, S., Reichenberg, R. and Shimoni, S. (2010) Educators of educators: their goals, perceptions and practices, Professional Development in Education, (36) 1-2, pp. 111-129

Bentley, D. (2009) Daring to teach teachers: Passion, politics and philosophy in post-compulsory teacher education. In Appleby, Y. and Banks, C. (2009) Eds. Looking back and moving forward. Reflecting on our practice as teacher educators. Preston: University of Central Lancashire pp 79-86

Bernstein, B. (1999) Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education; Jun 1999; 20, 2; Academic Research Library pg. 157 .

Boud, D. et al (eds.) (1985) Reflection. Turning experience into learning, London: Kogan Page. 

Boyd, P., Harris, K. & Murray, J. (2011) 2nded Becoming a Teacher Educator: Guidelines for the induction of newly appointed lecturers in Initial Teacher Education. Bristol: ESCalate

Bullough Jr, R.V., (2019). Empathy, teaching dispositions, social justice and teacher education. Teachers and Teaching, 25(5), pp.507-522.

Cochran-Smith, M. (2003) ‘Learning And Unlearning: The Education Of Teacher Educators’, Teaching and Teacher Education Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 5–28.

Cochran-Smith, M. (2005) ‘Teacher Educators As Researchers: Multiple Perspectives’, Teaching and Teacher Education Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 219–225

Cochran-Smith, M. (2021) Rethinking teacher education: The trouble with accountability, Oxford Review of Education, 47:1, 8-24, DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2020.1842181

Compton, A., Crawley, J., Curtis, F., Douglas, A.S., Eaude, T., Jackson, A., Philpott, C., Plater, M., Powell, D. Sewell, A. & Vincent, K. (2019) ‘What are the characteristics of a professional teacher educator? A think piece’, TEAN journal 11(2), pp. 3-11.

Crawley, J (2014) How can a deeper understanding of the professional situation of LLS teacher educators enhance their future support, professional development and working context? PhD thesis, Bath Spa University

Crowe, A. And Berry, A. (2007) Teaching prospective teachers about learning to think like a teacher, chapter 3 in T. Russell and J. Loughran (Eds.) 2007 Enacting a Pedagogy of Teacher Education: Values, relationships and practices. New York; Routledge.

Davey, R. (2013) The professional identity of teacher educators - .A career on the cusp. London: Routledge

Dawson, K. and Bondy, E. (2003) Reconceptualizing the Instruction of a Teacher Educator: reflective peer coaching in teacher education. Teaching Education, Vol. 14, No. 3, December 2003

Dinkelman, T., Margolis, J. and Sikkenga, K. (2006a) From Teacher to Teacher Educator: Reframing knowledge in practice. Studying Teacher Education Vol. 2, No. 2, November 2006, pp. 119–136

Felstead, A., Fuller,A., Jewson, N. and Unwin, L. (2011) Praxis No 7 - Working to learn, learning to work. London: UK Commission on employment and Skills

Finlay, I (2002) Educating Teachers for Further/Post-Compulsory Education, Bristol, ESCalate

Freedman, D.M.; Bullock, P.L. and Duque, G.S. (2005) Teacher educators’ reflections on moments in a secondary teacher education course: thinking forward by challenging our teaching practices. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice Vol. 11, No. 6, December 2005, pp. 591–602

Fuller, A. and Unwin, L. (2003) Fostering Workplace Learning: looking through the lens of apprenticeship. European Educational Research Journal, Volume 2, Number 1, 2003

Fuller, A; Hodkinson, H.; Hodkinson, P. and Unwin, L. (2005) Learning as peripheral participation in communities of practice: a reassessment of key concepts in workplace learning. British Educational Research Journal, 31:1, 49-68

Gibbs G (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford

Guyton, E.M. (2000) Foreword: Powerful Teacher Education Programmes. Ix to xi

Harkin, J. (2005) Fragments Stored against My Ruin: the place of educational theory in the professional development of teachers in further education. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, Volume 57, Number 2, 2005 pp 165-80

Harkin, J., Cuff, A. and Rees, S. (2008) Research into the Developmental Needs of Teacher Educators for Effective Implementation of the New Qualifications for Teachers, Tutors and Trainers in the Lifelong Learning Sector in England - DRAFT INTERIM REPORT. Coventry: LLUK.

Kitchen, J. (2005a) Conveying Respect and Empathy: Becoming a relational teacher Educator. Studying Teacher Education Vol. 1, No. 2, November 2005, pp. 195–207.

Kitchen, J. (2005b) Looking Backward, Moving Forward: Understanding my Narrative as a Teacher Educator. Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, May 2005, pp. 17–30

Kolb D. (1984).Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Korthagen, F., Loughran, J., Russell, T. (2006) ‘Developing Fundamental Principles For Teacher Education Programmes And Practices’, Teaching and Teacher Education Vol. 22, No. 8, pp. 1020–1041.

Loughran, J. Enacting a pedagogy of teacher education in Russell, T. and Loughran, J. Eds. (2007) Enacting a Pedagogy of Teacher Education. Values, relationships and practices. Abingdon: Routledge. pp 1-15

Lawy, R. & Tedder, M. (2012): Beyond compliance: teacher education practice in a performative framework, Research Papers in Education, 27:3, 303-318

Lucas, N. (2007) The in-service training of adult literacy, numeracy and English for Speakers of Other Languages teachers in England; the challenges of a ‘standards-led model’. Journal of In-Service Education. Mar2007, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p125-142.

Lucas, N. & Nasta, T. (2010): State regulation and the professionalisation of further education teachers: a comparison with schools and HE, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 62:4, 441-454

Lucas, N., Nasta, A. & Rogers. L. (2012): From fragmentation to chaos? The regulation of initial teacher training in further education, British Educational Research Journal, 38:4, 677-695

Lunenberg, M. (2002) Designing a Curriculum for Teacher Educators. European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 25, Nos. 2 & 3, 2002

Lunenberg, M., Korthagen, F., Swennen, A. (2007) ‘The Teacher Educator As Role Model’, Teaching and Teacher Education Vol. 23, No. 5, pp. 586–601.

Mayes, L. (2009) I look up and what do I see? Your head on the desk, not looking at me. In Appleby, Y. and Banks, C. (2009) Eds. Looking back and moving forward. Reflecting on our practice as teacher educators. Preston: University of Central Lancashire pp 9-18

Mc.Keon, F. and Harrison, J. (2010) Developing pedagogical practice and professional identities of beginning teacher educators, Professional Development in Education, (36) 1-2, pp. 25-44

Mevorach, M. and Ezer, H. (2010) Riding on a speeding train? How teacher educators perceive teacher education. Teacher Development, Vol. 14, No. 4, November 2010, 427–445

Moon, B. (1998) The English exception? International perspectives on the initial Education and training of teachers. London: UCET

Mueller, A. (2003) Looking Back and Looking Forward: always becoming a teacher educator through self-study. Reflective Practice, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2003

Musset, P.(2010), “ Initial Teacher Education and Continuing Training Policies in a Comparative Perspective: Current Practices in OECD Countries and a Literature Review on Political Effects”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 48, OECD Publishing.

Murray, J. (2005) Re-addressing the priorities: new teacher educators and induction into higher education. European Journal of Teacher Education. Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2005, pp. 67–85

Murray, J., Male, T, (2005) ‘Becoming A Teacher Educator: Evidence From The Field’, Teaching Teacher Education Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 125–142.

Noel, P. (2009) Development and utilisation of CPD systems and resources for teacher educators - Stage 1 Project: Key learning theory and related evidence-based practice knowledge required by teacher educators. Huddersfield: HUDCETT

Noel, P. (2006) The secret life of teacher educators: becoming a teacher educator in the learning and skills sector. Journal of Vocational Education and Training Vol. 58, No. 2, June 2006, pp. 151–170

Olsen, S.T., Andreassen Becher, A., Bergflødt, S., Hammer, A., Paaske, N., Palm, K. and Steinsvik, B., 2021. Teacher Well-Being and Teacher Professional Development. International Perspectives on Teacher Well-Being and Diversity: Portals into Innovative Classroom Practice, pp.87-118

Papier, J. (2010) From policy to curriculum in South African vocational teacher education: a comparative perspective, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 62:2, 153-162,

Perry, E., Owen, D., Booth, J. and Bower, K., 2019. The curriculum for initial teacher education: Literature review. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University

Reale, P. (2009) 'Glimpsing the whole at a glance': Using pictures and images to help teacher trainees make sense of the action research journey. In Appleby, Y. and Banks, C. (2009) Eds. Looking back and moving forward. Reflecting on our practice as teacher educators. Preston: University of Central Lancashire pp 27-38

Ritter, J. (2007) Forging a Pedagogy of Teacher Education: The challenges of moving from classroom teacher to teacher educator, Studying Teacher Education Vol. 3, No. 1, May 2007, pp. 5–22

Radović, S., Hummel S.K. and Vermeulen, M. (2021) The Challenge of Designing ‘More’ Experiential Learning in Higher Education Programs in the Field of Teacher Education: A Systematic Review Study, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 40:5-6, 545-560, DOI: 10.1080/02601370.2021.1994664

Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Snow, J.L., Jacobs, J., Pignatosi, F., Norman, P., Rust, F., Yendol-Hoppey, D., Naiditch, F., Nepstad, C., Roosevelt, D., Hood Pointer-Mace, D., Kosnick, C. & Warner, C. (2023) Making the Invisible Visible: Identifying Shared Functions that Enable the Complex Work of University-based Teacher Educators, Studying Teacher Education, Abstract. DOI: 10.1080/17425964.2023.2213717

Sumsion, J. Caring and Empowerment: a teacher educator’s reflection on an ethical dilemma Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 5, No. 2, 2000

Thurston, D. (2010) The invisible educators: exploring the development of teacher educators in the Further Education system. Teaching in Lifelong Learning.Vol 2, 1, pp 47-55

Tryggvason, M. (2012) Perceptions of identity among Finnish university-based subject teacher educators. European Journal of Teacher Education Vol. 35, No. 3, August 2012, 289–303

Willemse, M.,; Lunenberg, M.; Korthagen, F. (2008) Journal of Moral Education. Dec2008, Vol. 37 Issue 4, p445-466. 22p.

Zeichner, K.M. (2009) Teacher Education and the struggle for social justice. Abingdon: Routledge


Further Reading

Exley, S., Ovenden-Hope, T. (2013) ‘Preparing a pathway of professional development for teacher educators in the lifelong learning sector ‘ Tean Journal 5 (2) July [Online]. Available at: .


Definitions and key pedagogic themes from research

Further Education and Vocational Teacher Education (FEVTE) is defined as all the teacher education activity and provision included in the UK Further Education and Skills sector, and other vocational teacher education elsewhere.

The UK Further Education and Skills (FES) sector is the current name for the sector which has replaced the previous Lifelong Learning sector (LLS).

A Teacher Educator (TEd) in this research is defined as “a professional teacher who works with new and experienced (LLS) teachers to help them support their own students’ learning and build their knowledge, expertise and practice as a teaching professional.” Crawley, 2014.

Although this is a Teacher Education Study based in the FES, much of the pedagogy resonates with research across all teacher education pedagogy, and studies from outside of FEVTE have been used for the evidence base.

The key pedagogical themes identified are:

  1. General pedagogical principles
  2. The moral role of teacher educators
  3. Modelling practice and ‘golden moments’
  4. The place of learning theory
  5. Developing learning communities of reflective practitioners
  6. Connecting theory, practice and workplaces


Background and scope

The focus of the research was English teacher educators within the English Further Education and Skills sector. Despite particular contextual factors associated with that provision and the TEds concerned, the key pedagogical themes which emerged are likely to be transferrable to other teacher education situations.


General Pedagogical principles

Mussett (2010: 1) argues there is no consensus in ‘the way pedagogy should be integrated in teacher education’.

Korthagen et al. (2006) have led the production of perhaps the most authoritative, comprehensive and still authoritative statement of general pedagogical principles for teacher education. They undertook a meta-analysis of three ITE programmes across three countries, and ‘many studies’ undertaken and published on those programmes, and derived ‘Seven Fundamental Principles’ from this analysis. They are described as an 'empirically based and practically oriented' pedagogy based on 7 Key principles in 'programs and practices’ (ibid: 1022). They also assert that ‘in almost every teacher education program in the world, one or more of the seven principles can be recognized’ (ibid: 1037). These pedagogy-based principles are:

  1. Learning about teaching involves continuously conflicting and competing demands
  2. Learning about teaching requires a view of knowledge as a subject to be created rather than as a created subject
  3. Learning about teaching requires a shift in focus from the curriculum to the learner
  4. Learning about teaching is enhanced through (student) teacher research
  5. Learning about teaching requires an emphasis on those learning to teach working closely with their peers
  6. Learning about teaching requires meaningful relationships between schools, universities and student teachers
  7. Learning about teaching is enhanced when the teaching and learning approaches advocated in the program are modelled by the teacher educators in their own practice

Korthagen et al. (2006) argue these principles can help to create a common language for the development of pedagogy of teacher education, and Murray (2005) agrees that this could work in a number of ways, and also in the UK under certain circumstances.

Snow et al. (2023) Introduce three “shared functions” of teacher educators which connect to the pedagogical principles discussed in this guide. They are the “functions of Design, Leadership and Advocacy” which are “are all framed by the educative purpose of the work of teacher educators.” The authors argue that “these functions are overlapping and highlight the movement and energy among the functions and collective purpose for teacher educator work.”


The moral role of teacher educators

Belief among teacher educators that teacher education plays a pivotal moral role in the preparation of teachers including the development of reflexivity, inclusivity, equality and social justice is present in research from Apple (2009), Bentley (2009), Freedman et al. (2004), Mevorach and Ezer (2010), Roofe (2021), Thurston (2010) and Zeichner (2009).

Buller (2019), Lawy and Tedder (2012), Lucas and Nasta (2010), Mevorach and Ezer (2010) Thurston (2010) and Zeichner (2009) argue from their evidence that TEds should also be visible contributors to debates about teaching and learning, and debates about standards and democratic engagement with society.

Although this is a regular theme from research, there is little evidence from England of movement towards TEDs being supported to follow this moral direction, and if anything, this is proving more difficult.


Modelling practice and ‘golden moments’

Studies including Cochran-Smith (2003), Crawley (2014), Korthagen et al. (2005), Kane (2007), Kosnik (2007), Koster et al. (2005), Lunenberg (2002), Lunenberg et al. (2007), Smith (2005) and Swennen et al., (2007) find that teacher educators often operate as role models. This has also been described as a ‘model pedagogue’ (Ben-Peretz et al, 2010; Crowe and Berry, 2007).

Lunenberg et al. (2007) use the term 'golden moments' to describe incidents within this role modelling which can help to demonstrate just what can be achieved from excellent teaching. The importance for teacher educators to ensure those moments are captured and made available to trainees is emphasised. Dawson and Bondy (2003), Korthagen et al. (2006), Loughran (2007), Mayes (2009), Muller (2003) and Olsen et. al. (2021), Willemse et al. (2008) argue that this modelling through golden moments helps teachers to reflect more deeply on their own teaching and learn from that reflection. This can help to ‘demonstrate alternative perspectives and approaches to practice’, and help to make ‘pedagogic reasoning’ explicit (Korthagen et al., 2006: 1026). Research from Freedman et al. (2005) finds evidence that this sharing and reflecting on moments to support reflection is not always productive, and that it also does not necessarily always lead to action from the teachers which will enhance or transform their practice. Reale (2009) emphasises that modelling through golden moments is a two-way process where TEds and trainees all learn from each other and which ‘often gives us a vivid ‘window’ into their thinking as trainee teachers (ibid: 37).


The place of learning theory

Addressing learning theory features regularly in research in this field, and can be seen to underpin teacher education, but there is no overall dominant discourse regarding which learning theories should be addressed and endorsed. Finlay’s (2002) review of Further Education teacher education found that many programmes embrace the experiential learning theory of Kolb (1984), reflective practice theory of Schön (1983,) and also utilise the way those theories have been interpreted for teacher education by, for example, Boud et al. (1985), Gibbs (1988) and Radovic et al. (2021).

Moon (1998), looking more broadly across teacher education in a number of countries, identifies ‘the Deweyian reflective practitioner’ (ibid: 21) tradition as dominant in teacher education programmes in England, and the USA. France and Germany, and that many countries in Europe, adopt ‘a more knowledge focused interest in didactics and pedagogics’ (Moon 1998: 21).

In contrast, and in relation to vocational teacher education, Papier (2010) argues that there is broad agreement on the theoretical underpinnings of vocational teacher education which focusses on the acquisition by vocational teachers, of ‘vertical’ disciplinary knowledge (Bernstein 1999). She suggests this theoretical approach ‘is situated in workplace technologies and practice’ and ‘is recognised and is widely evident from the curricula and curriculum processes examined’ (ibid: 155, 6).


The place of learning theory in the FES

This is a topic which has been the focus of a number of pieces of research in the English FES. Teacher educators have been found to have some autonomy in identifying and selecting appropriate learning theory in research by Clow and Harkin (2009), Harkin (2005), Harkin et al. (2008), Harkin et al (2003), Lucas (2007), Lucas et al. (2012) and Perry et al. (2019).

Harkin (2005) and Lucas et al. (2012) and Noel (2009) found there is no clear agreement on defining the relevant theory for the LLS. Teacher educators therefore find themselves in the position where they decide what to teach in relation to learning theory. Different theories are taught on different ITE programmes (Harkin, 2005). Noel (2009) agreed that ‘teacher education should draw attention to emerging findings from neuroscience’ (ibid: 12), but found there was ‘little evidence that this is happening in practice’ (ibid; 12). Noel also suggested there was a view which ‘was that ultimately all theory is just that – theory, and trainees can be encouraged to look at it in a critical way’ (ibid: 12).

Harkin (2005) and Harkin et al. (2008) discuss how trainees can find learning theory difficult, particularly at the start of ITE programmes, but they become more confident as the course progresses, and value the theory learned later in their teaching career when they have more experience to apply it in practice.


Creating personal learning theory

A possible positive reason not to clearly define how learning theory is situated within teacher education is provided by Korthagen et al. (2006) when they suggest that teacher educators ‘should actively create situations that elicit the wish for self-directed theory building in their students’ (ibid: 1028). The teacher educator then becomes the link between possible theories and practice in order to assist the teacher to build their own theory. Finlay’s (2002) review endorses this view, arguing that ‘there needs to be respect for the distinctive sort of knowledge which informs the professional judgement of the teacher’ (ibid: 16). Finlay argues that teacher education should provide contexts, reflections, models and golden moments which can help teachers build their own personal knowledge and learning theory which is ‘both a source and a context for learning’ (ibid: 16). Helping trainee teachers to develop their own understanding of learning theory as part of the development of their capacity to reflect on and learn from practice is seen as an important element of teacher education. This features in research by Radovic et al. (2021); Loughran (2007), Lunenberg (2002), Ritter (2007) and Sumsion (2000). Within this approach to pedagogy, learning theories become a tool towards personal learning theory, rather than dominant ideas and concepts.

A useful link -


Developing learning communities of reflective practitioners

Cochran Smith (2003 and 2021); Dinkelman et al., (2006); Korthagen (2006) and Korthagen (2011) argue that strategies focussing around the creation, maintenance and development of learning communities of teachers as individuals and groups are helpful for teacher learning. Korthagen et al. (2006) found that ‘meaningful collaboration’ (ibid: 1027) could help students to learn about the complexities of teaching through experience. They also found that peer support, sharing responsibility for learning and the joint development of collaborative learning experiences for and with trainees all helped trainees to ‘recognize and respond to the competing demands in their learning’, and to ‘learn in meaningful ways through experience’ (ibid: 1027). This shared responsibility ‘for professional learning’ (ibid: 1034) is argued to be a particularly effective process for recognising and understanding the modelling and ‘golden moments’ discussed in theme 3. Korthagen et al. (2006) also found this application of pedagogy could assist teachers to reduce the isolation which some of the deprofessionalising forces in the workplace could introduce.

Davey (2013); Kitchen (2005a and b); Ritter (2007) found that working in a collaborative community with teachers was an important way of enhancing empathy and respect; personal practical knowledge, understanding of the teaching landscape; the capacity to solve problems, and a growth in relationship building skills. This facilitated a productive interaction between teacher educators and the teachers concerned, and promoted the same type of relationship both between teachers, and between the teachers and their pupils or students.

Cochran-Smith (2021: 11) proposes a new approach to collaborative learning communities called “intelligent professional responsibility.” She explains this as follows: “The notion of intelligent professional responsibility turns the dominant approach to teacher education accountability on its head by braiding together three ideas, the first of which is overarching – intelligent accountability, evaluation based on inclusion and dialogue, and a supportive relationship between external and internal accountability. Woven together, these three ideas suggest new possibilities” (ibid: 12).


Connecting theory, practice and workplaces

The multiplicity of contexts, content, theories and practices across education systems, particularly in the English FES, is a significant challenge for the teaching professional. Research has recognised how working to mediate these challenges is one of the most important aspects of teacher education. Crowe and Berry (2007), Davey (2013), Guyton (2000), Kitchen (2005a), Korthagen et al. (2006), Korthagen (2001), Kosnik (2001), Laws et al. (2009), Loughran (2007), Lunenberg (2002), McKeon and Harrison (2010), Murray and Male (2005) and Tryggvason (2012) all argue that teacher education can bridge gaps; cross bridges; surface learning; cross borders and connect diverse and different elements of practice. This common theme of connection and developing connectivity in teachers is described in different terms, but the importance of the connections and teacher educators’ role in helping to make them is consistent.

McKeon and Harrison (2008) and Korthagen et al. (2006) provide an analysis which argues that the learning experiences of trainee teachers are at their most meaningful and powerful when ‘embedded’ in the workplace. This allows opportunities to practise the learning experiences experienced outside the workplace in a real working situation as described by Fuller et al. (2005), in their study of workplaces in manufacturing industry and schools. This also echoes discussions of the expansive learning environment (Fuller and Unwin, 2003) and Work as Learning Framework (Felstead et al. 2011). Research from Boyd et al. (2011), Fuller et al. (2005), Harkin et al. (2008) and Noel (2006) characterises LLS teacher educators as ‘embedded’ in the workplace, or even multiple workplaces. This is because they often (though not in all cases) visit trainees regularly and work with them in their classrooms / teaching sites.


Example 1 from research – Korthagen et al., (2006)

Korthagen et al. (2006) analysed ‘three cases from different continents’. The IVLOS Institute of Education at Utrecht University, The Netherlands; the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University, Canada and at the Faculty of Education at Monash University, Australia.

A meta study of these three programmes was carried out, including analysis of published studies on the programmes and programme documents. These were analysed using a search for recurring fundamental principles; approaches which were evident repeatedly and the evidence of the application of the principles and approaches in ‘many aspects of the programmes’ (Korthagen et al. 2006: 1023). The project results were also shared widely with the teacher educator community of the researchers.

The seven key principles derived are all exemplified from the research which was analysed.

Overall Korthagen et al. (2006: 1039) conclude that ‘these principles suggest guidelines and possibilities (as opposed to rules and procedures) to those teacher educators willing to accept the challenge of reconstructing teacher education from within’.

This democratically-generated, practitioner-devised approach has gained traction within other countries, but is not yet visible in the UK to any real degree.


Example 2 from research - Mevorach and Ezer (2010)

Mevorach and Ezer (2010) carried out a study of TEds’ perceptions of Teacher Education practices. This included eight different teacher education colleges in Israel, and an analysis of 75 questionnaires. A set of four models was constructed from literature, one of which was the ‘moral agent professional model’. This involved:

  • nurturing a virtuous person involved in the community;
  • contributing to the community;
  • increasing social involvement in the educational field;
  • being able to establish a good relationship with the field and the school;
  • becoming familiar with the role of the teacher in the community (ibid: 437)

Teacher educators surveyed did not consider they had arrived at this model, but did indicate from their responses that ‘they aspire to the moral-agent professional model, perceiving a discrepancy between what exists and what is desired.’ (ibid: 442)


Example 3 from research (FES) – Crawley (2014)

Crawley’s (2014) research gathered discussion points and responses on TEds’ professional situation, activity and values from over 250 FES teacher educators through focus groups and an online questionnaire, itself completed by 161 respondents. A theoretical framework was constructed from reviews of research to analyse the responses. The framework had 12 themes, and the ‘moral role’ of teacher educators was one (Crawley, 2014, p.124). Over the several research phases this theme was equal second in the list of frequency with which the different themes were raised, indicating a high level of value being placed upon this aspect of pedagogy.

As with Mevorach and Ezer (2010) above however, there was little expectation among respondents of support in achieving this role.


Example 4 from research – Willemse et al., (2008) and Example 4a from research Compton et al. (2019)

Willemse et al. (2008) carried out a mixed methods study ‘of the actual … education practices of 54 teacher educators within one institution’ (ibid: 445)

On considering the results of a previous exploratory study, and a scoping of literature, they were led to ‘assume that preparing student teachers … apparently depends more on the efforts of individual teacher educators than it does on any collectively designed curriculum and that the process appears to be largely implicit and unplanned’ (ibid: 446).

When participating in the research, some teacher educators explained how they were searching ’for ‘golden moments’, which they defined as moments when a teacher educator could explain some information or theory (or express a value) in response to a question or problem raised by the student teachers’ (456)

Whilst recognising the presence and value of modelling and golden moments, this study expressed doubts about the degree to which TEds’ practices and the structures of TEd programmes embedded such pedagogies to the conscious degree that they should. To further develop and research this area was considered a high priority.

Example 4a from research Compton et al. (2019) This research surveyed the membership of the “Teacher Education Advancement Network (TEAN) in the UK about their ideas of the key characteristics of a professional teacher educator, and their results (p. 6) commented on how “Boyd (2014: 67) discusses the importance of explicit modelling for teacher educators, that is to say stepping out of the teacher education session and explicitly reflecting by ‘thinking aloud’ about the design and facilitation of the session. Loughran and Berry (2005: 200) affirm the depth of skill required for modelling, ‘Laying bare one's own pedagogical thoughts and actions for critique and doing so to help student–teachers “see into practice”— all practice, not just the “good things we do”’. The importance of modelling came through in our findings as the suggestion that teacher educators are people who, as specialists in their field, provide nuanced insights into praxis, both modelling proven strategies for success, and offering clear written and verbal (oral) advice when conducting focussed observations. But this goes further: teacher educators can explain their practice in detail, and help others to find ways to develop their own.”


Example 5 from research (FES) – Crawley (2014)

Crawley’s (2014) theoretical framework also included ‘modelling and golden moments’ (ibid: 278), and this also regularly featured in participants’ responses as an important pedagogical principle for TEds.

Modelling and the use of ‘golden moments’ is seen by TEds as an important contribution which enables the teachers they train to reflect on critical incidents and learn from them as reflective practitioners. Highlighting ‘golden moments’ in trainee’s own teaching can also contribute to a significant growth in confidence, and a step towards improved teaching.


Example 6 from research – Moon (1998)

Moon (1998) carried out a review of ‘international perspectives on the initial education and training of teachers’ which addressed teacher education across some 10 countries, including the USA, France, the Netherlands and Germany. This was not a systematic review, but did include a wide range of research and programmes internationally. With respect to learning theory, Moon indicated that ‘In England, and in the USA, the Deweyian reflective practitioner, pragmatic tradition has come to dominate teacher education programmes. In France and Germany and much of continental Europe, a more knowledge focused interest in didactics and pedagogics has been central to the education and training process' (Moon, 1998: 24).

Moon identifies a tension between the English view of the ‘social role of the teacher’ (ibid: 25) and the greater concentration on didactics and subject knowledge in teacher education in many non-English speaking countries. There is even a suggestion that ‘the English language has come to see the terms didactic or pedagogue in derogatory terms’ (ibid: 25).


Example 7 from research (FES) – Harkin (2005)

Harkin (2005) reports on research funded by a national Further Education infrastructure organisation which surveyed 243 FE teachers about their perceptions of the usefulness of the FE ITE they had received. 50 of the survey respondents were subsequently interviewed. Research, including the above study by Moon (1998) had already identified theory as a problematic area in English ITE, and participants in this research reinforced that perspective. Harkin’s research finds that ‘Even if we could agree about what we mean by ‘theory’, and whether or not it is a useful term, there is a potentially bewildering abundance of different theories on offer to trainee teachers’ (Harkin, 2005: 171).

The research found that a wide range of theories, models and frameworks could be included, but that for trainees, ‘theories that do not help teachers in their practice will be disregarded by them’ (ibid: 171). Harkin also found that there was no national agreement on the theory which should be taught on ITE programmes, but argues that the best approach would be to allow for flexibility and professional judgement by Teacher Educators in this area due to the changing fashions and approaches to theory over a period of time.

In a sector full of complexity and change, Harkin found that the research ‘found high regard for reflective practice as an organising principle of ITT courses, but that it is very difficult to maintain deliberative, reflective processes post-ITT. Many teachers said they had no time for reflection in their fulltime teaching role and missed the opportunity to discuss their teaching with others’ (ibid: 174).


Example 9 from research – Cochran Smith (2003)

Cochran Smith (2003) carried out research which analysed ‘four teacher educator communities in different contexts and entry points across the career lifespan’ (5). Cochran Smith reviews literature which supports the view that ‘the opportunity to engage in inquiry within a learning community may be a vital part of teachers’ and teacher educators’ ongoing education’ (ibid: 7).

Using four examples and the reflections on and experiences of some forty teacher educators, in four examples over an extended period of time, Cochran-Smith (2005) identifies some important commonalities, similarities, differences and a diversity in the roles and responsibilities of those who could be called teacher educators.

Commonalities and similarities include feeling as if they are ‘linchpins in educational reforms of all kinds’ (Cochran-Smith, 2003: 5); that they are ‘expected to conduct and publish research at the same time that they develop curricula and programs, teach courses, and work with’ (ibid: 6) teachers, but that their developments needs are given ‘low priority’ (ibid: 8). Despite this Cochran-Smith reported regular efforts to self-develop as a learning community of teacher educators.

Diversity and differences for teacher educators comes mainly from the national and cultural contextual variations found from country to country, or even from state / county to state / county. These can result in differing locations within the education sector (e.g. in universities, in schools and in colleges), different emphases of teacher education (Primary, secondary, early years, post compulsory etc.)


Example 10 from research (FES) Crawley (2014)

Crawley’s research included focus groups, an online questionnaire, and an evaluation of a CPD programme for teacher educators, and engaged over 250 participants. The conceptual framework which was developed to support analysis of the results included a number of key issues which had emerged from research including

  • - the teacher educator as a professional:
  • - the pedagogy of teacher education;
  • - multiplicity and diversity of role
  • - professional development of support

When analysing the participant contributions using this framework, the theme of participation in learning communities emerged as the equal second most mentioned area, and one to which the participants gave considerable value.

The issue of working and learning as a community was a part of a process of feeling connected with each other, and building connections with their trainees, which the next section addresses more fully.


Example 11 from research – Murray and Male (2005)

Murray and Male (2005) carried out research on 28 teacher educators working in seven different institutions to contribute to ‘understanding the challenges new teacher educators face in establishing their professional identities as teachers of teachers and as scholars in HE’ (ibid: 125). The research found that moving into the role of teacher educator, even for those who were already recognised at ‘expert’ teachers, involved ways of making connections and recognising the place of those connections, or ‘shifting the lens of (their) teaching to re-analyse their
pedagogy in the light of their second-order practice as teacher educators.’ (ibid: 137). For new teacher educators, being given support to recognise where their existing experience fits with and connects to the role of a teacher educator is a process of connection building of a practice which ‘validates that practice, acknowledges its fundamental place in individual professional identity, and assists in the interactive processes of bringing substantial and situational selves into alignment.’ (ibid: 139)


Example 12 from research (FES) – Crawley (2014)

Crawley’s (2014) research included a literature review where the connections between theory, practice and workplaces was identified as an important issue in terms of the context and practicalities of the role of teacher educator, and within the overall pedagogy of teacher education. Studies of teacher education regularly featured the importance of this type of ‘connected practice’, and ‘connecting’ teacher education.

Within the empirical work for the study, which engaged over 250 FES TEd participants, ‘connected practice’ and ‘connecting’ teacher education did emerge from the analysis of participant engagement and responses, but not as strongly as pedagogical theme 5.

The research found some awareness of the importance of connecting theory, practice and workplaces in what was termed the ‘inner circle of teaching and learning’ (i.e. when working with trainees), but less engagement in using that to enhance and develop their own professional connections and profile (described as the ‘outer circle of teaching and learning’).

As a result a recommendation was made that FES TEDs should be supported in establishing a more outward-facing professional image.


Areas for further research

Teacher education pedagogy is an under-researched area in general, so further research in the same field would be helpful. Further research in the following other areas would also be helpful.

These include mentoring of trainees; comparisons of UK and other systems; the professional situation of teacher educators; policy in UK and other systems; impacts and effects of teacher education; induction and CPD  of teacher educators (all in FE and VTE).

Online Communities

The European Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning (EAPRIL) promotes practice-based research on learning issues in the context of initial, formal, lifelong and organisational learning. Are you interested in our conferences and research activities? Do you wish to join one of the EAPRIL Clouds? Or do you want to meet with researchers from all over the world? Includes online communities which are very relevant to teacher education at:

The Association for Teacher Education in Europe Research and Development Communities (not just online) The R&D Communities are the heart of the association. The teacher educators from all over Europe and beyond meet, exchange and co-operate. The RDCs are open to members and non-members.

Twitter accounts

There are a number of useful twitter accounts which are worth following:

Jim Crawley @teachology; The Association of Teacher Educators @AssocTeacherEd;

The Association for Teacher Education in Europe @ATEE_Brussels

The Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) @UCET_UK


To keep in touch with other developments, please register to join the MESHConnect general online community.