Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Efficacy in German Teacher Education

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Efficacy in German Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

At the present time German teacher training is confronted with a great political will to bring about change. International comparative studies of recent years have shown a dissatisfying learning outcome. The most dramatic result is a strong interdependence of school success and social background. German teachers experience their profession as problematic. At present only 35% work until the normal pension age. The article discusses structural differences in teacher training compared to other countries and analyses motivation for the choice of study, perceived self-efficacy, experience of stress, patterns of uncertainty avoidance and previous experience in a sample of 1358 students starting teacher training.

Key Words: Teacher training; Career choice motivation; Self-efficacy; Experience of stress; Uncertainty avoidance

INTRODUCTION

At the present time German teacher training is confronted with a great political will to bring about change. There is much dissatisfaction both with the performance of school students in comparative international studies and with teacher training. The present study examines the performance of 1358 prospective teachers from two German universities against this background:

1. What is the motivation for the choice of a course of study and profession among students of teacher training?

2. What are the perceived self-efficacy, experience of stress, patterns of uncertainty avoidance and previous experience of students starting teacher training?

3. What expectations do they have in regard to teacher training?

To facilitate the interpretation of the results we briefly highlight the situation in German schools and teacher training in a number of chosen areas. At the centre of the presentation is the performance in international comparative school studies, the public perception of the stress suffered by teachers in comparison with the findings of empirical studies and research on professionalization, which is important in Germany. The account of the effectiveness of teacher training is given in the context of the concluding discussion.

German Teacher Training Against the Background of International Comparative Studies

In the public perception of the German educational system the disappointing performance in the big international comparative studies of recent years such as the TIMSS (Baumert et al, 1998; Stigler et al, 1999) and PISA (Klieme et al, 2010) play an important part. Contrary to the high expectations German school students performed badly, whereas they occupied the top places in the primary school study IGLU (Bos et al., 2003). A particularly disappointing feature seems to have been the interdependence of school success and social background. In scarcely any other country this relationship was so clearly marked. This was corrected in the recent PISA studies, but not to the desired degree (Klieme et al., 2010). In contrast to the reaction in many other European countries, the media echo on the German performance in the study was immense. The press and the politicians saw in it a kind of insult to one's honour and a national failure of a school system of which one had hitherto been very proud. Against this background one of the central questions of German educational science is: What happens between the time when the children are around 9 years old (primary school) and the age of 15? If one adopts a comparative perspective it is evident that the level of competence has deteriorated dramatically. Something is going wrong in the German school system. The press and the politicians lay a substantial part of the responsibility for this phenomenon at the door of German teachers and teacher training (Kahl and Spiewak, 2005).

More far-reaching conclusions for educational policy to be drawn from the results of the international comparative studies, which go beyond the populist criticisms of teacher training, can be summarized as follows (see Kiel, 2009): Highly selective school systems such as the German system, in which school students are distributed among different school types after their fourth year at school tend not to promote learning success on a broad scale. …

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