Research Competencies in Teacher Education

Expected by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Excerpts from:

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. What Teachers Should Know and Be Able to Do: The Five Core Propositions.

The fundamental requirements for proficient teaching are relatively clear: a broad grounding in the liberal arts and sciences; knowledge of the subjects to be taught, of the skills to be developed, and of the curricular arrangements and materials that organize and embody that content; knowledge of general and subject-specific methods for teaching and for evaluating student learning; knowledge of students and human development; skills in effectively teaching students from racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds; and the skills, capacities and dispositions to employ such knowledge wisely in the interest of students.

Five Core Propositions

2.   Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.

Accomplished teachers have a rich understanding of the subject(s) they teach and appreciate how knowledge in their subject is created, organized, linked to other disciplines and applied to real-world settings. While faithfully representing the collective wisdom of our culture and upholding the value of disciplinary knowledge, they also develop the critical and analytical capacities of their students.

[Accomplished teachers have] commitment to subject matter ... But, it is not sufficient that teachers know the facts that fall into these difference content domains. Understanding subject matter entails more than being able to recite lists of dates, multiplication tables, or rules of grammar.

Teachers Appreciate How Knowledge in Their Subjects is Created, Organized and Linked to Other Disciplines.

Teachers in command of their subject understand its substance – factual information as well as its central organizing concepts – and the ways in which new knowledge is created, including forms of creative investigation that characterize the work of scholars and artists.

Understanding the ways of knowing within a subject is crucial to the National Board Certified teacher's ability to teach students to think analytically. Critical thinking does not occur in the abstract, for the thinker is always reasoning about something. Proficient teachers appreciate the fundamental role played by disciplinary thinking in developing rich, conceptual subject-matter understandings. They are dedicated to exposing their students to different modes of critical thinking and to teaching students to think analytically about content.

Teachers Command Specialized Knowledge of How to Convey a Subject to Students.

Knowledge of subject matter is not synonymous with knowledge of how to reveal content to students so they might build it into their systems of thinking.

Thus, subject-specific pedagogical knowledge is not a bag of tricks, but a repertoire of representations that combines instructional techniques with subject matter in ways that take into account the mix of students and school contexts that confront the teacher. ... Professional teachers' instructional repertoires also include knowledge of available curricular resources, such as primary sources, models, reproductions, textbook series, teachers' guides, videotapes, computer software and musical recordings. Their commitment to learning about new materials includes keeping abreast of technological developments that have implications for teaching; for example, how to engage students in the rapidly expanding field of computer technology, as well as how to use the computer to enhance their own teaching. Thus, able teachers keep current with the growing body of curricular materials – including literature available through their professional organizations – and constantly evaluate the usefulness of those materials based on their understanding of curriculum theory, of students, of subject matter, and of the school's and their own educational aims.

4.   Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience

[Accomplished teachers] engage in lifelong learning which they seek to encourage in their students.

Because they work in a field marked by many unsolved puzzles and an expanding research base, teachers have a professional obligation to be lifelong students of their craft, seeking to expand their repertoire, deepen their knowledge and skill, and become wiser in rendering judgments.

Teachers Seek the Advice of Others and Draw on Education Research and Scholarship to Improve Their Practice.

Able teachers are also students of education scholarship and are cognizant of the settled and unsettled territory in their field. They stay abreast of current research and, when appropriate, incorporate new findings into their practice. They take advantage of teacher centers and special conferences and workshops. They might conduct and publisher their own research, if so inclined

Wise teachers understand the legitimacy and limitations of the diverse sources that inform teaching and they continuously draw upon them to enrich their teaching. Their enthusiasm for, and commitment to, continued professional development exemplifies a disposition they hope to nurture in students. Hence, the thinking, reasoning and learning that characterize first-rate teaching are doubly valuable: not only are thoughtful teachers able to teach more efficiently and effectively, they are also models for the critical, analytical thinking that they strive to develop in our youth. Teachers who are themselves exemplars of careful reasoning –considering purposes, marshaling evidence and balancing outcomes – are more likely to communicate to students the value and manner of such reasoning.

5.   Teachers are members of learning communities

Accomplished teachers contribute to the effectiveness of the school by working collaboratively with other professionals on instructional pyolicy, curriculum development, and staff development.

Last modified February 9, 2007
by Boris Teske, Prescott Memorial Library,
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA 71272