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Teacher educators' professionalism in relation to mentors and trainees

This doctoral study focusses on the professionalism of teacher educators. It ties into the growing international attention for this occupational group on the level of policy, research and practice (see e.g., European Commission, 2013). The decision to give central stage to teacher educators immediately highlights the fundamental starting premise of this research: educating teachers how to teach requires a particular kind of professionalism – knowledge, skills and beliefs – that is qualitatively different from the professionalism developed as a school teacher in primary or secondary education, or as a disciplinary expert (Vanassche et al., 2015).


The goal of this project is to contribute to the development of an empirically grounded understanding of the identity and expertise of teacher educators, working from a discursive research approach (Positioning Theory as developed by a.o. van Langenhove & Harré (1999) in the neighboring field of social psychology). Rather than viewing identity and expertise as personal properties or qualities, such an approach considers professionalism as a function of the social interactions with others (e.g., teacher educator-colleagues, school based teachers / mentors and student teachers), which are, in turn, embedded in a broader institutional context. In translating this research approach to the field of educational research, this project will also contribute to the development of innovative conceptual and methodological resources at the complex intersection between agency and social-institutional structures.



European Commission. (2013). Supporting teacher educators for better learning outcomes. Brussels: European Commission.

van Langenhove, L., & Harré, R. (1999). Introducing positioning theory. In R. Harré & L. van Langenhove (Eds.), Positioning theory (pp. 14–31). Cambridge, UK: Blackwell.

Vanassche, E., Rust, F., Conway, P. F., Smith, K., Tack, H., & Vanderlinde, R. (2015). InFo-TED: Bringing policy, research, and practice together around teacher educator development. International Teacher Education: Promising Pedagogies (Part C), 22C, 341–364. https://doi.org/doi:10.1108/S1479-368720150000022015

Date:1 Oct 2018  →  30 Sep 2020
Keywords:teacher educator, professionalism
Disciplines:Education curriculum, Education systems, General pedagogical and educational sciences, Specialist studies in education, Other pedagogical and educational sciences
Project type:PhD project