Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Ready Contents or Future Skills? A Comparative Study of Teacher Education in Thailand and Finland

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Ready Contents or Future Skills? A Comparative Study of Teacher Education in Thailand and Finland

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study aimed to analyze the recently updated teacher education programmes in two universities in Finland and Thailand. The article reports the characteristics of the elementary and secondary school teacher education studies in the selected universities, and discusses the roles and significance of 21st century skills and their modifications in these programmes. This kind of qualitative case comparison that focuses on modern skills and intercultural programmes is a new approach.

The methods were document analysis and questionnaire-based survey. Six teacher educators who had important roles in the recent programme updates, three from each university, were the survey informants.

The findings revealed that the policies and approaches to teacher education were different. While the Thai programmes focused more on courses, the Finns had a wider educational view. Second, research, skills and teaching practice were seen to be important, but the purposes were parted. Finally, as teachers' professional development tools, those will need further studies.

Keywords: teacher education, 21st century skills, pre-service teacher training, skill-based education

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1. Introduction

Standards for learning are now higher than they have ever been before, as citizens and workers need greater knowledge and skill to survive and succeed. Education is increasingly important to the success of both individuals and nations, and growing evidences have demonstrated that-among all educational resources-teacher's abilities are especially crucial contributors to students' learning (Darling-Hammond, 2006a, p. 1).

The purpose of this qualitative, comparative case study was to analyze the current elementary and secondary teacher education programmes in University of Helsinki (UHEL), Finland, and Chulalongkorn University (CU), Thailand, which were revised in 2013 and 2014 respectively (Department of Teacher Education, UHEL (TEd, UHEL), n.d.; Faculty of Education, CU (FoE, CU), n.d.). These two programmes were chosen since they present the academic mainstream of the teacher education in the countries concerned and the focuses in these would indicate the views about future teaching core competencies. This case study addressed both the "subject teacher" programmes, which prepare subject specialized teachers for secondary education and the "class teacher" programmes, which prepare teachers for elementary education.

The main emphasis of this research was on the modern skill-based teacher education since first, the 21st century learning environments require skills that were not needed so much previously but are currently required and assessed all the time (Darling-Hammond, 2006a; Darling-Hammond & Adamsson, 2014; Dede, 2010; Pearlman, 2010; see also Hämäläinen & Välijärvi, 2008; Sinlarat et al., 2014). Furthermore, this kind of skill-based teacher education case comparison has never been done, especially for these recently (2013-2014) updated programmes. The previous UHEL programmes may have been analyzed in some aspects (e.g., Krzywacki, Maaranen, & Lavonen, 2012) and literature that describes the teacher education system in each country may be found (e.g., Kansanen, 2008; Niemi, 2012b; Thongthew, 2014; Tirri, 2014); however, a study of the modern skill development in teacher education in Asia and Europe in the same paper has not been previously conducted. Commonly, independent articles addressing various teacher education systems have been published together as a collection, e.g., Darling-Hammond and Lieberman (2012) and Tan (2012). In addition, Finnish and Thai teacher education has not been studied together in any context even though they share some similarities. Regardless of the different higher education policies (MoE, TH, 2005; MoEC, FI, 2011), these case universities have designed similar pattern in their teacher education-both universities have 5 years of pre-service teacher education programmes and search for improved quality as main teacher education universities of their countries (TEd, UHEL, n. …

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