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ERIC Number: ED570861
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan
Pages: 46
Abstractor: ERIC
Learning about Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know
Pomerance, Laura; Greenberg, Julie; Walsh, Kate
National Council on Teacher Quality
Every year about 190,000 teacher candidates graduate from traditional teacher preparation programs believing they are ready to begin the relentlessly demanding career of teaching. Each of these aspiring teachers will have taken at least one education psychology course or instructional methods course (usually both) designed to teach them how children learn and how to create lessons whose content their students will remember. These topics then will be revisited in much of their other coursework. No other subjects will receive as much attention during teacher training as those that purportedly focus on how students learn. This report contends that textbooks used in this coursework neglect to teach what is known about how students learn despite its central importance in training. Compelling cognitive research that meets scientific standards about how to teach for understanding and retention barely gets a mention in many texts, while anecdotal information is dressed up as science. Theories du jour and debunked notions are being passed on to new teachers as knowledge and best practice. Put simply, publishers and authors are failing both aspiring teachers and the teaching profession. They are not ensuring that the core texts designed to produce the next generation of teachers are giving candidates the most fundamental information needed to make learning "stick." The transfer of knowledge--from researchers to publishers to teacher educators to aspiring teachers--is not happening while the need to impart it has never been more urgent. In practice, what does that mean for aspiring teachers? First, they are wasting a lot of money. Each teacher candidate likely will buy at least one often--pricey book for their ed psych course and another for their methods course, leading to upwards of $40 million in total spending by each year's crop of new teachers. But far more important, when teachers are not trained well, they try to learn on the job--by guessing in the classroom. Being unprepared can overwhelm and even defeat novice teachers at the moment they are most vulnerable. Students are the losers. The antidote, of course, is that teacher candidates should learn research-proven instructional strategies in their textbooks and practice them--again and again--during their training. This report examines some of the most widely used textbooks in teacher preparation programs today. Specifically, it looks for the degree to which teacher candidates are taught instructional strategies that decades of research confirm can be the most effective. The following appendices are available online: (1) Textbooks examined in this report; (2) Programs included in this study; (3) Methodology of textbook evaluations; (4) Additional findings on textbook coverage of strategies; (5) Methodology of program evaluations; (6) Additional findings on program preparation on strategies; (7) Research inventory; (8) Sample lesson plan format; (9) Sample indicators for observation instrument; (10) Analysis of textbook references; (11) The rigor of typical assignments in teacher prep coursework on instruction; (12) More about "Teacher Prep Review" 2016's Standard 11: Fundamentals of Instruction; and (13) Author and publisher responses.
National Council on Teacher Quality. 1420 New York Avenue NW Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-393-0020; Fax: 202-393-0095; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Council on Teacher Quality
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A