Integrated curriculum, pedagogy and assessment

To successfully prepare pre-service teachers for their classrooms, teacher educators need to understand the ways in which the various knowledge they are learning fits together and impacts on the students that they teach.  In order for a teaching model to be ‘clinical’ it must allow students to combine the practical with the theoretical, the content with the policy, and the learning needs with the student.

In the 1970s Bernstein (1971) spoke about the three message systems of pedagogies, curriculum and assessment. Bernstein sought to understand both the connections and disconnections between these three components.  Historically, teaching institutions have often separated the various components of knowledge as a way of dealing with all three of these components.  While this may allow pre-service teachers to access each component, it can mean that they never see the larger picture.  Aspects of the various fields are added iteratively, rather than considered holistically.  However, pre-service teachers do not have the luxury of considering these three components separately.  The immediate nature of classroom teaching means that all aspects are considered at once, as they all form part of the learning needs of the students in their classrooms.

Traditionally, teacher education has not explicitly role modelled this holistic integration process for pre-service teachers.

In order to solve the issues of disconnections between subjects and a lack of conceptual coherence, further attention needs to be paid to an integrated approach to curriculum, pedagogy and engagement. Linda-Darling Hammond states:


“…effective teacher education programs... include tight coherence and integration among courses and between course work and clinical work in schools, extensive and intensely supervised clinical work integrated with course work using pedagogies that link theory and practice, and closer, proactive relationships with schools that serve diverse learners effectively and develop and model good teaching”. (Darling Hammond, 2006, p.300)


Integration of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment can lead to a number of benefits for pre-service teachers including consistency of ideas (Hammerness, 2006), stronger impact of theory on pre-service teachers, conceptual coherence (Darling-Hammond, 2006) and an alignment of ideas across the teacher education institution.  There are also opportunities for interventions if misconceptions are formed.


Evidence base and references


Bernstein, B. (1971). On the classification and framing of educational knowledge.  In M.F.D. Young (Ed.), Knowledge and control: New directions for the sociology of education (pp. 47–69). London: Collier-Macmillan.


Darling-Hammond, L. (2006). Constructing 21st Century Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education 57 (3) pp. 300-314.


Hammerness, K. (2006). From Coherence in Theory to Coherence in Practice. Teachers College Record, 108(7) pp. 1241-1265