Elementary teacher education in the top performing European TIMSS countries
A comparative study
This paper analyzed elementary teacher education (hereafter ‘TED’) programs in the top performing European (TIMSS) countries to help inform future elementary TED policy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Methodological emphasis revolved around how much emphasis should be placed on general content knowledge (GCK), as opposed to general pedagogical knowledge (GPK), as opposed to methodological pedagogical knowledge (MPK). This study explored these questions while analyzing the elementary TED programs of Germany, Finland, and the U.K. relying mainly on peer-reviewed literature on these topics published between 2000 and 2016 in the English language. Three theoretical frames of reference, aside from TIMSS, were also analyzed during this process: whether the programs were consecutive or concurrent, the model of partnership followed between universities and institutions where field experiences took place, and the overall status and role of teachers in the society as categorized by career-based or position-based. It was found that the top performing European TIMSS countries usually: have consecutive and concurrent options; attract the top academic achievers into their programs; have strict filters for admission; provide very intensive TED experiences to their students focusing on practical and diverse field experiences; enforce students to major in at least one academic subject and place more emphasis on academic subject expertise than pedagogy; have challenging criteria (including exams and portfolios) for graduation from the program; have national accreditation institutes for unifying standards; their sponsor countries enforce various types of induction and professional development once in the field; and lastly these countries offer salaries competitive with other professions that require the same amount of years and training since they are usually career-based positions.