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Teachers’ Education and Outcomes: Mapping the Research Terrain


by Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Matthew Cannady, Kirstin Pesola McEachern, Kara Mitchell, Peter Piazza, Christine Power & Amy Ryan — 2012

Background/Context: Questions about teacher quality, including how teachers ought to be educated and licensed, rank near the top of the educational agenda in the United States. These controversies persist because of lack of consensus about what “teacher quality” means, conflicting claims about the empirical evidence, and public skepticism about the need for formal teacher preparation. Because there has been relatively little research on the outcomes of preparation programs and pathways and because researchers work from diverging paradigms, there are few clear conclusions in this area.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this article is to offer a conceptual analysis of empirical research on teachers’ education and outcomes that is linked to the political controversies and policy debates that shape it. Using the concept of research “genres,” the article addresses two questions: (1) How have researchers conceptualized and studied the connections between teachers’ education and its outcomes, consequences, or results? (2) What are the policy controversies and larger social and political factors that have shaped these genres?

Research Design:This review focuses on research conducted in the United States since 1998 and published by peer-reviewed journals or centers with peer review procedures. The review includes only empirical research that explicitly examines connections between particular aspects of teachers’ education (e.g., certification status, academic background, pathways into teaching, program mission/curriculum, transitions to teaching, life experiences) and specific posteducation outcomes (e.g., teacher preparedness, beliefs, practice, retention, student achievement).

Findings/Results: The review reveals that there are six distinguishable genres that examine connections between teachers’ education and posteducation outcomes: teacher certification and its correlates, teachers’ educational backgrounds and the teacher workforce, entry pathways into teaching and their consequences, teacher preparation programs and their graduates, teacher preparation and learning to teach in the early career years, and teachers’ life experiences and beliefs/practices. The article analyzes and critiques each genre, including its contributions/limitations and the controversies it addresses.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The review concludes that there continue to be relatively few studies that connect aspects of teachers’ education to outcomes; some genres focus primarily on outcomes related to student achievement, whereas others focus primarily on outcomes related to teacher learning. These genres have grown up relatively separately from one another. The review recommends that all six research genres ought to be taken into account by policymakers, researchers, and practitioners in order to have a rich understandings of teachers’ education and outcomes.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 10, 2012, p. 1-49
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16668, Date Accessed: 10/25/2014 2:58:13 PM

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About the Author
  • Marilyn Cochran-Smith
    Boston College
    MARILYN COCHRAN-SMITH is the Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Her research interests include teacher education policy, practice, and research nationally and internationally. Recent publications include “Teacher Quality, Teacher Education and Diversity: Policy and Politics” (co-authored with Kim Fries) in A. Ball and C. Tyson (Eds.), Studying Diversity in Teacher Education (Roman & Littlefield, 2011), and Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation (co-authored with Susan L. Lytle) (Teachers College Press, 2009).
  • Matthew Cannady
    UC Berkeley
    E-mail Author
    MATTHEW CANNADY is quantitative research specialist at the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment at UC, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. His research interests include science education policy and practice in formal and informal settings. His dissertation is “Modeling Teacher Attrition: Teacher Characteristics and Working Conditions." Recent publications include "An Accountability Model for Initial Teacher Education" (with L. Ludlow, et al.) in Journal of Education for Teaching, International Research and Pedagogy.
  • Kirstin McEachern
    Boston College
    E-mail Author
    KIRSTIN PESOLA MCEACHERN is a doctoral candidate at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Her research interests include the social constructs of gender and single-sex education. Recent conference papers include “Perceptions and Practices of Beginning Male Teachers: Implications for Teacher Preparation” (with Sarah Enterline and Stephanie Chappe) at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Denver, 2010, and “Educators’ Gendered Experiences of Single-Sex Teaching Environments” at the Gender & Education Conference in London, 2009.
  • Kara Mitchell
    University of Colorado, Denver
    E-mail Author
    KARA MITCHELL is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Community Teacher Education Program at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research interests focus on advancing equity in the policy and practice of teacher preparation. Recent publications include "Teacher Education for Social Justice: What's Pupil Learning Got to Do with It?" (co-authored with Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Ann Marie Gleeson) in Berkeley Education Review, 2010, and "Teach Outside the Classroom" in M. C. Fehr and D. E. Fehr (Eds.) Teach Boldly! Letters to Teachers about Contemporary Issues in Education (Peter Lang, 2010).
  • Peter Piazza
    Boston College
    E-mail Author
    PETER PIAZZA is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. His research interests include teacher education policy and teaching for social justice. Recent publications include "Dear President Obama and Secretary Duncan: You Are Looking Through the Wrong Window" (co-authored with Lisa Patel Stevens) in Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy.
  • Christine Power
    Boston College
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTINE POWER is a doctoral candidate at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Her research interests include teacher education policy and teaching for social justice. Recent publications include “New Directions for Teacher Preparation” (co-authored with Marilyn Cochran-Smith) in Education Leadership (May 2010) and “Preparing Teachers for Tomorrow’s America” (coauthored with Marilyn Cochran-Smith) in O.L. Davis & M. Kysilka (Eds.), Schools for Tomorrow’s America, Kappa Delta Pi Foundation (in press).
  • Amy Ryan
    Boston College
    E-mail Author
    AMY RYAN is the Associate Director for Mentoring and Induction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Her research interests focus on mentoring beginning teachers, technology in education, and teaching for social justice. Recent conference presentations include “Beyond Survival: Teacher Education’s Role in Supporting Teacher Learning During the Induction Years” at the annual meeting of American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in San Diego, 2011.
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