New study: education departments don’t produce competent teachers

From the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Are teacher-training programs rigorous enough? A new study, completed by a group that has long criticized the quality of teacher preparation, makes the case that they’re not.

Education students face easier coursework than do their peers in other departments, according to the study, and they’re more likely to graduate with honors.

A report on the study—”Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them,” which is to be released on Wednesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality—argues that a more-objective curriculum for teaching candidates would better prepare them for careers in the classroom.

[…]The council examined more than 500 institutions and found that 30 percent of all their graduating students earned honors. But when it came to education programs, 44 percent of students did so.

The council also analyzed syllabi across multiple majors to determine whether their assignments were “criterion-referenced” (that is, explicitly knowledge- or skill-based) or “criterion-deficient” (that is, subjective). It found that criterion-deficient assignments were more common in teacher-preparation classes than in other disciplines.

As an example of an assignment that the group finds “criterion-deficient,” Ms. Greenberg described a “literacy-history timeline” task that prompts students to reflect on how their own reading skills developed.

“Even if that had relevance to teaching reading, it wouldn’t be the best way to teach anything,” she said. The advocacy group, she added, was “somewhat dismayed by how little many of the assignments seem to connect with the content and skills teacher candidates are really going to need once they enter the classroom.”

If you’re looking for a couple of good books on this problem, try Thomas Sowell’s “Inside American Education” and “Ed School Follies” by Rita Kramer.

2 thoughts on “New study: education departments don’t produce competent teachers”

  1. They’re a) getting easy A’s in b) BS courses that have nothing whatsoever to do with c) teaching qua teaching, or d) the actual subject matter they’re meant to teach. Making them learn that nonsense more thoroughly will accomplish nothing.

    I saw a lot of the course material for an MA in (iirc) art ed at the Rhode Island School of Design ten years ago, and most of it was SJW nonsense of no imaginable relevance

    In any case, the bottom line is this: some students learn regardless, and some fail regardless.


  2. I had to take a couple of graduate (graduate, mind you) education classes for my degree. I had been taking 4 or 5 science classes per semester, with labs. I found the graduate level education classes to be an absolute joke. That’s not even an exaggeration.

    One class in particular, Educational Research, was an entire semester devoted, ostensibly, to learning to do research in education – i.e. research to determine which methods of education actually work. In reality, it was an entire semester devoted to writing one generic research proposal for doing a research project in a school. No actual research was done. We just had to pretend we were going to do some and write out a statement of what we do in a hypothetical case.

    By this point in my education, being used to studying biology, I could write a basic research proposal for a hypothetical project in a couple of hours or less. I might have needed a quick background about the special requirements of doing research on children in school. But it shouldn’t have taken anyone an entire semester to learn how to write one short, made-up research proposal.

    That was bad enough, but the class was handled as if teaching children. According to the syllabus, a hypothesis statement and introduction was due at the beginning of a certain class period. So, being used to meeting deadlines, I wrote it and brought it to class. No big deal. When I got to class, the instructor started explaining what a hypothesis was. Um, I learned that in grade school science. She went around helping everyone think of an actual hypothesis that could be tested as opposed to statements of opinion or untestable hypotheses or vague ideas about what to research (I could do that in my sleep). She seemed to think it was very difficult to do this. She then gave us the rest of the 3 hour class period to write a hypothesis statement and introduction. I told her I had mine done already and gave it to her. She was greatly surprised and said no one ever comes in with it done. She always has to help them in class.

    The entire class went that way. I thought I had gone through a portal into the twilight zone, it was so bizarre. It really scared me to think that these people, who couldn’t tell a testable hypothesis from a statement of opinion, were actually school teachers. They were working on a graduate degree in education at night because they were teachers during the day. No wonder education is in the state it’s in now.


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