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The aim of this study is to identify psychological topics within the areas of learning, development, and assessment that are especially important for teachers and should be included in the university teacher education curriculum. Based on the observation that teacher educators in psychology often face the challenge of having to select certain topics from a large body of possible content, at the risk of causing large variation of knowledge between teachers, we asked 48 experts from different fields of teacher education (psychologists, non-psychologists at university, and educators from the induction phase) to evaluate psychological topics with respect to their importance to teaching. In the following two rounds (Delphi method), experts selected topics which they felt should be taught at university. Although differences existed at the beginning, a ranking of topics was obtained. Further, we explored the way experts with different backgrounds achieved consensus to support the validity and acceptance of the results. Concluding, we discuss the usefulness of the results with a focus on the acquisition of psychological knowledge for teachers and to foster the position of educational psychology within teacher education.
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The role of educational psychology in teacher education:
expert opinions on what teachers should know
about learning, development, and assessment
Hendrik Lohse-Bossenz &Olga Kunina-Habenicht &
Mareike Kunter
Received: 30 August 2012 / Revised: 2 January 2013 / Accepted: 22 February 2013 /
Published online: 10 April 2013
#Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media
Dordrecht 2013
Abstract The aim of this study is to identify psychological topics within the areas of
learning, development, and assessment that are especially important for teachers and should
be included in the university teacher education curriculum. Based on the observation that
teacher educators in psychology often face the challenge of having to select certain topics
from a large body of possible content, at the risk of causing large variation of knowledge
between teachers, we asked 48 experts from different fields of teacher education (psychol-
ogists, non-psychologists at university, and educators from the induction phase) to evaluate
psychological topics with respect to their importance to teaching. In the following two
rounds (Delphi method), experts selected topics which they felt should be taught at univer-
sity. Although differences existed at the beginning, a ranking of topics was obtained. Further,
we explored the way experts with different backgrounds achieved consensus to support the
validity and acceptance of the results. Concluding, we discuss the usefulness of the results
with a focus on the acquisition of psychological knowledge for teachers and to foster the
position of educational psychology within teacher education.
Keywords Teacher education .Educational psychology.Curriculum .Delphi study .Expert
Imagine you are a newly employed assistant professor at a school of education or teacher-
educating university and you are asked to give a lecture in educational psychology or, more
specifically, on psychological aspects of learning in the classroom. To develop your syllabus,
you may consult different sources: standards that are part of some certification process either
for individual teacher candidates or for teacher education programs in general; textbooks that
either cover educational psychology as a broad science or are more focused on learning; or,
finally, some of your colleaguespre-existing syllabi. You will surely be confronted with an
Eur J Psychol Educ (2013) 28:15431565
DOI 10.1007/s10212-013-0181-6
H. Lohse-Bossenz (*):O. Kunina-Habenicht :M. Kunter
Department of Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Goethe-University Frankfurt,
Grüneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt/Main, Germany
overwhelming amount of content which might be more or less detailed, and sooner or later
you may very likely come to the conclusion that you cannot know for sure whether your
agenda covers the essential content teacher candidates should acquire in order to success-
fully manage their daily work (i.e., fostering learning in their students).
The argument put forward in this study is that available sources to discuss a possible
curriculum, such as standards or recent research literature, define the relevant content for
beginning teachers too broadly for practical use. For example, Woolfolk-Hoy (2000) defines
five areas of educational psychological knowledge relevant for teachers (e.g., different
teaching methods, communication skills, etc.). Obviously, these areas span a lot of topics
which are elaborated on in numerous textbooks. However, as the time within a course is
limited, educators have to decide which topics should be included in the course. Many
debates about a curriculum for teacher education are located on the more general level of
areas (e.g., Anderson et al. 1995; Patrick et al. 2011) and textbooks can be too detailed (e.g.,
Kiewra and Gubbels 1997; Woolfolk Hoy 1996,2000), since to date sparse guidelines exist
that state which specific topics (e.g., information processing, self-efficacy, or Banduras
social learning) are relevant for teachers to, for example, support learning in the classroom.
The aim of this study, therefore, is to empirically determine topics within general content
areas (i.e., learning, development, and assessment) in a Delphi study with experts in teacher
education. By specifying broad content areas with concrete topics, we can contribute
essentially to the development of syllabi that can be considered relevant for teacher
candidates (Zeichner 2005). This empirically supports current developments in teacher
education demanding the formulation of a core curriculum (EURYDICE 2002). As an
important extension to existing research, we report evidence for the importance of educa-
tional psychological topics within teacher education from the viewpoint of both psycholo-
gists and non-psychologists and examine whether consensus across different groups of
teacher educators can be obtained.
The theoretical part on educational psychology and initial teacher education is structured as
follows: Beginning with a definition of educational psychology as a science, we continue by
describing differentways to define the content of educational psychology for teacher education.
After a brief description of initial teacher training in Europe and the role of psychology in
teacher education, we proceed to the formulation of the main research questions.
Educational psychology and initial teacher education
Educational psychology as a discipline
Reviews on the history of educational psychology clearly highlight its close connection to
psychology as the mother science (Berliner 1993,2006; Hilgard 1996; Patrick et al. 2011;
Woolfolk Hoy 2000). Stanley Halla student of William James who founded psychology in
the USA at Harvard Collegecollected data for his Ph.D. on pupils with the help of teachers
and later founded the American Psychological Association (APA). Edward Thorndike,
another of Jamesstudents, transferred the research on learning from the classroom to the
laboratory and later became APA president (Woolfolk Hoy 2000). However, educational
psychology returned to its origins and has developed over the last century from a science
mostly located in laboratories to a science located more and more in practical settings
(O'Donnell and Levin 2001; Woolfolk Hoy 2000). Therefore, we refer to O'Donnell and
Levin (2001) who define educational psychology as the development and application of
psychological principles to education, as well as the adoption of psychological perspectives
1544 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
on education(p. 73). Thus, educational psychology can contribute to both educational
practice and psychological theory (e.g., Mayer 2001).
Aspects of educational psychology relevant to teachers
Thinking about learning and teaching, general aspects like individual differences, develop-
ment, the nature of the subject being taught, problem solving, assessment, and transfer often
come to mind (Berliner 2006). However, in order to define the important aspects of
educational psychology for prospective teachers that enable them to properly teach and
support students at school, one may consider different sources: scientific articles (O'Donnell
and Levin 2001), textbooks for teachers (Kiewra and Gubbels 1997; Woolfolk Hoy 2000),
interviews with practising teachers (Cound et al. 1996; Houtz and Weinermann 1997;
Reynolds et al. 1992), or standards for licensing individual teachers (e.g., Interstate New
Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium) and teacher education programs in general
(e.g., National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, NCATE) (Patrick et al. 2011;
Woolfolk Hoy 2000).
More specifically, scientific articles as one source were addressed by ODonnell and
Levin (2001). With a special focus on educational psychology as a science, the authors
analyzed selected volumes from the Journal of Educational Psychology over a period from
1910 to 1999 and summarized that from the beginning to the middle of the last century,
topics on measurement and intelligence dominated the published articles. In the 1960s and
1970s, research in the field of learning and personality increased. By the end of the 20th
century, articles dealing with learning made up 60 % of articles published in this journal.
Additionally, the shift from abstract constructs to common psychological principles is
mainly supported by Woolfolk Hoys(2000) analysis of textbooks for teacher education
where test and measurement as well as intelligence decreased in favor of learning, motiva-
tion, and assessment.
As another source, one may refer to current standards in teacher education such as the
NCATE standards which require teachers at the beginning of their career to apply knowledge
about (a) theories of human development and learning; (b) principles of effective practice for
encouraging the intellectual, social, and personal development of students; (c) a variety of
instructional strategies, (d) effective communication, (e) formal and informal assessment,
and (f) reflection on their own teaching (Woolfolk Hoy 2000).
Furthermore and most recently, Patrick et al. (2011) consulted different US American
programs and standards to define aspects of educational psychology most relevant to teacher
education. They showed that the National Academy of Education (2005), for instance,
stresses learning and development in social contexts as well as assessment. The National
Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (2008) requires knowledge on student
learning, school and family contexts, assessment, language acquisition, and cultural in-
fluences on learning. In the context of certification exams (Wilson and Youngs 2005), test
procedures cover topics related to student development, learning processes, individual
differences, motivation, learning environment, assessment, and measurement theory
(Patrick et al. 2011).
Finally, similar recommendations for psychological content in teacher education can also
be found in European countries. The German Psychological Society structures a core
curriculum for teacher education into four areas, namely learning and instruction, develop-
ment in social contexts, educational assessment, and intervention and counseling (German
Psychological Society 2008). Further, teacher standards in England demand teachers to
inspire, motivate, and challenge pupils;promote good progress and outcomes by pupils;
Educational psychology in teacher education 1545
adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils;make accurate and
productive use of assessment; and manage behavior effectively to ensure a good and safe
learning environment(Department for Education 2011, pp. 67).
After all, imagine again you might be the one designing the syllabus for your lecture on
learning. From the research literature and the national standards, you may know that
knowledge about learning is an essential part of teacher education. But from this, it is still
not clear how your lessons should be structured each week. In order to increase transparency
in the discussion about important content, we distinguish between content areas and topics.
Content areas describe broad categories like learning, development, or assessment and can
be more or less clearly defined. In contrast, topics are more precise and nested within content
areas, for example, cognitive development (content area: development) or attribution (con-
tent area: learning). They can be further specified by certain examples like piagetian theory
or memory (topic: cognitive development).
Initial teacher training in Europe
Initial teacher training comprises the time period necessary to fully prepare persons for the
teaching profession, that is, from the decision to become a teacher to becoming a fully
responsible member of the teaching profession. The EURYDICE network reviewed Europes
various teacher education systems from the years 2000 and 2001. The results indicate that
teacher education systems vary with respect to different aspects, for example, the way subject-
specific and non-specific parts are linked (EURYDICE 2002). Additionally, teacher education
systems differ in the way theoretical content is structured. In concurrent teacher training,
students gain knowledge about their specific subjects like math or science (called general
training) together with knowledge that is relevant for teaching, like teaching methods or
classroom management (called professional training). In consecutive systems, students first
attend the subject courses and then proceed to non-subject specific educational courses.
Despite these structural differences, it is obvious that besides content knowledge and
pedagogical content knowledge, non-subject-specific courses are considered an integral part
of teacher education (for a description of different types of teachersprofessional knowl-
edge, see Shulman 1987). Revealingly, such courses are mostly called educational or social
foundations. As foundational courses tend to include topics from a vast amount of disci-
plines like history of education, sociology of education, or educational psychology (Dawson
et al. 1984), teacher educators from very different scientific backgrounds provide students
with discipline-specific perspectives on teaching and learning (Shea and Henry 1986).
Specifically, it is widely accepted that teacher education should provide subject-related
courses as well as subject-related pedagogical courses in order to foster teacher knowledge
(e.g., Cochran-Smith and Zeichner 2005; Hill et al. 2005). However, foundational courses
providing non-subject specific knowledge (e.g., Dawson et al. 1984) are often under debate
(König et al. 2011; Schmidt et al. 2008); in particular, the allocation of time devoted to each
of the three course types seems to be a political question (Schmidt et al. 2008). Presumably,
this is due to less well-defined curricular requirements or to other reasons related to general
pedagogy as a wide field within teacher education (e.g., König et al. 2011).
Apart from this, some studies show that foundational courses in general lead to an
increased feeling of preparedness (Kee 2012;ONeill and Stephenson 2012)andare
supposed to increase conceptual knowledge about learning and teaching (e.g., König et al.
2011). Accordingly, we focus on the psychological content of non-subject specific founda-
tional courses as educational psychology often contributes significantly to foundational
courses. Note that our specific interest in psychological foundations does not undermine
1546 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
the importance of courses related to content and pedagogical content knowledge. In fact, we
believe that sound psychological knowledge about, for example, learning, development, and
assessment supports the existing knowledge base in order to foster studentslearning. This is
in line with Shulmans(1987) notion of pedagogical content knowledge as an amalgam of
content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.
As the final aspect of teacher education, most countries in Europe have a system where
they organize a final on-the-jobqualifying phase (EURYDICE 2002) after the first
training period. Here, teacher candidates already work in schools supervised by a mentor.
As the term for this phase varies between countries, we use the term induction phase and
refer to EURYDICE (2002, p.76) for an overview of possible terms in Europe.
Psychology as part of initial teacher training
Educational psychology has the potential to provide relevant knowledge for the professional
training of teacher candidates (e.g., Anderson et al. 1995; Patrick et al. 2011; Woolfolk Hoy
2000). In most European countries it is part of the minimal requirements (EURYDICE
2002). However, due to the relative autonomy of universities concerning teacher education
both across and within countries, credit hoursdefining the amount of time devoted to
professional training in general and to psychology in particularalso vary across and within
countries. As an example, Terhart et al. (2010) conducted a curriculum analysis and showed
a high variability of credit points even within one single federal state in Germany.
Furthermore, universities not only differ concerning credit point distribution but also
concerning content-related aspects. Following the EURYDICE study in many European
countries, universities are relatively autonomous with regard to the development of their
teacher education curriculum. However, in a majority of countries, a trend towards stricter
regulation can be observed (EURYDICE 2002; OECD 2005). In this process, we believe
that educational psychology should promote its role as an important science contributing
essentially to the professional training of teachers.
As an example, a vivid debate emerged in the USA around the end of the last century,
concerning the role of educational psychology within the initial teacher training system.
Some teacher educators (e.g., Anderson et al. 1995) promote a transition of educational
psychology from a foundational science to a more integral part of teacher education because
the increasing importance of constructivist teaching methods promotes self-regulated learn-
ing (Woolfolk Hoy 2000) and demands a profound knowledge of how children develop and
learn. However, Patrick et al. (2011) pointed out that psychological courses are currently still
mostly gatekeepers(p. 72) and face marginalization(p. 72) within teacher education.
To our knowledge, a comparable debate does not exist in Europe (except a paper by
Poulou 2005), yet we believe such a discussion on the role of psychology in European
teacher education will be inevitable. Besides theoretical contributions (e.g., Mayer 2001),
recent empirical findings (e.g., Voss et al. 2011) highlight the importance of psychological
knowledge for teachers. Voss et al. (2011) showed a positive relationship between teacher
candidatesgeneral pedagogical and psychological knowledge and several indicators of their
instructional quality rated by students.
However, many efforts to reform the curriculum discuss educational psychology on the
level of broad categories. For example, German standards for teacher education state that
teacher candidates should acquire knowledge on learning theories and ways of learning, how
to actively integrate learners and how to foster understanding and transfer. Further, they
should know theories of learning and performance motivation and how to apply them for
teaching (The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the
Educational psychology in teacher education 1547
Länder [states] in the Federal Republic of Germany 2004, p. 8, translation by first author).
Likewise, teacher standards for UK (especially England) state that teachers should demon-
strate knowledge of how pupils learn and how this impacts on teaching(Department for
Education 2011, p. 6).
To conclude, structuring teacher education by those broad content areas leaves much
responsibility to the local teacher educating institutions and individual teacher educators. For
instance, with respect to learning theories, one educator may focus on information process-
ing, whereas another focuses on constructivist theories. An advantage, however, is the
flexibility of institutions with respect to existing resources (i.e., staff and research interests).
Additionally, universities could develop a certain profile that may attract students and
researchers. However, the main problem of this approach is that heterogeneous curricula
produce heterogeneous teachers with respect to their psychological knowledge. As a con-
sequence, this high variability in teacher education cannot ensure that all prospective
teachers have built a relevant knowledge base.
Aim of the study and research questions
Two main problems can be identified, namely (a) a lack of consensus on relevant psycho-
logical topics for teacher candidates and (b) the unsettled position of educational psychology
within a restricted curriculum of teacher education. This leads us to the three main aims of
this study. We adopt an empirical approach, firstly, to identify key topics within three main
content areaslearning, development, and assessment. From the various content areas
within non-subject specific educational courses, we focus on these mainly psychological
areas as they appear in many reviews (e.g., Patrick et al. 2011; Woolfolk Hoy 2000)or
teacher standards (e.g., Department for Education 2011; German Psychological Society
2008) and can thus be considered central to the teaching profession. Note that we excluded
other content areas like instruction, socialization, and diversity despite their important role
within teacher education (Baumert and Kunter 2006; Berliner 2001; König et al. 2011;
Kunina-Habenicht et al. 2012; OECD 2010). This is because we consider them interdisci-
plinary, that is, different sciences like psychology, educational science, or sociology may
contribute unique perspectives to particular topics. Those different perspectives are probably
necessary for teachers to form an understanding of the complexity of the field but hamper the
clear identification of the responsibility of educational psychology. Therefore, we formulate
the first research question as: Which topics within the content areas of learning, develop-
ment, and assessment are considered most relevant to curricula for teacher education at
university level in the opinion of experts from different fields of teacher education?
Further, psychological topics as part of non-subject specific teacher education are also
recognized and implicitly evaluated from different perspectives, that is, also by non-
psychologist teacher educators. This happens mainly in discussions concerning teacher
education curricula.
The second aim of this study is, therefore, to investigate initial similarities and differences
between psychologists, non-psychologists at university, and teacher educators from the
induction phase. More specifically, to what extent do different expert groups (psychologists,
non-psychologists, and educators from the induction phase) initially differ in their evaluation
of the relevance of the content areas and the respective topics for curricula in teacher
education at university level?
Thirdly, a major concern is the acceptance of the results within the field of teacher education.
Acknowledging possible differences between various groups of teacher educators, we try to
achieve a consensus among these by applying an iterative method as obtaining agreement on
1548 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
key topics among a diverse population of stakeholders is likely to increase acceptance (e.g.,
Geist 2010). Therefore, our final question is: Is it possible to reach a consensus on the
importance of psychological topics by using an iterative procedure (Delphi study)?
Research design
The oracle of Delphi gives the name to a method (Dalkey 1969; Linstone and Turoff 1975)
which has received much attention in different contexts. It originated from military applications
(i.e., foreseeing possible technological developments; Dalkey and Helmer 1963) and also found
its way into educational contexts (e.g., Houtz and Weinermann 1997;Kosteretal.2005;
Tigelaar et al. 2004). The main characteristic of the Delphi method is the way the interaction
between participantsmostly persons with high expertise in different fieldsis structured. The
experts have to make decisions or evaluations but do not directly interact. Instead, information
from the expert group is gathered and provided as additional information in consecutive rounds.
Recently, many different variations have been applied and showed the usefulness both for
curriculum development in schools (Bartholomew et al. 2004; Häussler and Hoffmann 2000;
Osborne et al. 2003) and higher education (Houtz and Weinermann 1997;Judd1972;Kosteret
al. 2005; Kreber 2002,2003; Thach and Murphy 1995;Tigelaaretal.2004; Volman 2005), and
for the consideration of multiple stakeholders (Geist 2010).
We adopt a slightly varied approach, that is, in the first round we asked the participants to
evaluate psychological topics with respect to their importance for teaching and in the second
round we changed the instruction and let participants select a certain number of topics within
each content area (learning, development, assessment). Although the change in the instruc-
tion deviates from the original approach where the instruction is exactly the same in all
consecutive rounds (for similar deviations see, for example, Häussler and Hoffmann 2000;
Houtz and Weinermann 1997; Koster et al. 2005; Volman 2005), we intended to emulate the
procedures at university where teacher educators have to select a certain number of topics
out of a larger body of possible topics. In the third and final round, participants followed the
same instruction as in round 2. This round was necessary to support consensus formation
between experts. A consensus between teacher educators from different domains is consid-
ered a precondition for the acceptance of the results of the study.
Within a larger study aiming at identifying and measuring general pedagogical knowledge of
teacher candidates (Kunina-Habenicht et al. 2012; Terhart et al. 2012), we recruited the
expert sample in one particular federal state of Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia). In order
to gain a representative sample, we developed a matrix consisting of disciplines contributing
to educational foundations (educational science, psychology, sociology) times teacher edu-
cating universities. Further, we included educators from the induction phase representing a
more applied perspective. All in all, we invited 62 experts by mail to participate in our study
and 48 experts participated, comprising all universities within North Rhine-Westphalia and
several experts from the induction phase (mean experience in teacher education= 17.92 years,
SD=9.12). As we intended to examine initial differences between groups of teacher educa-
tors, we selected experts from three groups: psychologists at university (N=12, mean
experience=11.25 years, SD=5.24), non-psychologists at university (e.g., experts from the
Educational psychology in teacher education 1549
fields of history of education, didactics, sociology, educational foundations; N=23, mean
experience=19.83 years, SD =9.21), and teacher educators from the induction phase (N=13,
mean experience=20.69 years, SD =9.30). All participants at university level were pro-
fessors and involved in teacher education, giving lectures in foundational courses.
Additionally, each of the participants from university could be considered knowledgeable
due to important contributions (articles, book chapters, or conference proceedings) in their
respective domains. Finally, they were mostly members of committees acquainted with
restructuring teacher education both at their local institutions and on the level of the federal
state. The twelve participants from the induction phase were heads of local institutions
responsible for teacher education in the induction phase. As a precondition, they had to be
teachers and have teaching experience at school (mean experience as teacher=9.31 years,
SD=6.59). Additionally, five of them had been involved in university teacher education.
They also gave lectures and communicated with respective ministries and schools on aspects
of teacher education. Each participant received a monetary reward.
Using curricula, textbooks and research literature, we identified 17 topics for the content
area learning, 13 topics for development, and 13 topics for assessment (a complete list of
topics can be found in Tables 1,2, and 3). More precisely, within the federal state where this
study took place, we collected all available official documents structuring the curriculum in
educational foundations courses at each university. Following this, we created a list of topics
and clustered them into the content areas learning, development, and assessment. Then, we
Table 1 Content area learning: final ranking of topics with means (standard deviation) for first round and
selection rates (average deviation index) for second and third rounds
Topic Round 3 Round 2 Round 1
% (AD
) % (AD
1 Learning motivation 97.9 (0.04) 98.0 (0.04) 2.48 (0.62)
2 Metacognition and self-regulated learning 89.6 (0.19) 81.6 (0.30) 2.31 (0.65)
3 Knowledge acquisition 87.5 (0.22) 77.6 (0.35) 2.31 (0.67)
4 Attribution 87.5 (0.22) 81.6 (0.30) 2.47 (0.62)
5 Social learning 79.2 (0.33) 81.6 (0.30) 2.43 (0.64)
6 Achievement motivation 79.2 (0.33) 73.5 (0.39) 2.36 (0.67)
7 Self- efficacy, academic self-concept 75.0 (0.38) 73.5 (0.39) 2.32 (0.68)
8 Models of memory 70.8 (0.41) 71.4 (0.41) 2.15 (0.67)
9 Cognitive disorders and intervention approaches 70.8 (0.41) 71.4 (0.41) 2.39 (0.63)
10 Behaviorist theories 54.2 (0.50) 57.1 (0.49) 2.20 (0.69)
11 Behavioral disorders and intervention approaches 43.8 (0.49) 40.8 (0.48) 2.01 (0.65)
12 Problem solving and creativity 31.3 (0.43) 45.8 (0.50) 2.23 (0.65)
13 Motivational disorders and intervention approaches 31.3 (0.43) 32.7 (0.44) 2.25 (0.69)
14 Knowledge transfer 20.8 (0.33) 30.6 (0.42) 2.15 (0.66)
15 Basic concepts of motives, motivation, and emotion 18.8 (0.30) 28.6 (0.41) 2.26 (0.72)
16 Development of expertise 14.6 (0.25) 22.4 (0.35) 1.87 (0.68)
17 Attention 12.5 (0.22) 22.4 (0.35) 1.95 (0.67)
Average deviation indexvalues below 0.33 indicate sufficient practical agreement
1550 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
consulted textbooks used in teacher education (the majority of the project members give
foundational courses for teachers in different fields and are used to the standard literature)
and identified further topics. Finally, we compared the resulting list with official documents
from the German Psychological Society (2008) and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of
Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder [states] in the Federal Republic of Germany
(2004). In order to arrive at an exhaustive list, we decided to ask the experts in the first round to
add any topics they felt were missing. We preferred this approach over another sample of
experts rating our list prior to the main study as it proved difficult to recruit the final sample.
However, we piloted the questionnaire with a student sample (N=4) concerning processing time
and afterwards included visual aids (different size of check boxes) to reduce cognitive load.
Consequently, the first round could be considered a pilot for the list of topics, whereas the
following rounds focused on the identification of key topics within each content area.
In round 1, experts had to evaluate each topic concerning its relevance to teachers on four
3-point Likert scales (1= dispensable,2=useful,3=indispensable). The scales reflected
different aspects of relevance. Experts were asked to indicate the relevance for understand-
ing the scientific background, understanding teaching as a profession, theoretical reflection
of ones actions, and practical teaching (see Table 4). The paperpencil questionnaire was
sent to the experts by mail and had to be returned within 4 weeks. As this study was
embedded within a larger project on general pedagogy, note that the questionnaire also
comprised other content areas (instruction, history of education, educational system, teach-
ing profession, and diversity).
The questionnaire for the second round was based on the rating questionnaire from
round 1. The instruction aimed to emulate a selection procedure, that is, participants
had to imagine the case that they had to select topics for a university curriculum.
a main characteristic of the Delphi method, we used information from round 1. For
each topic, we presented the mean rating over all four aspects of relevance and
standard deviation from round 1 as additional information. Furthermore, we arranged
topics in a descending order by mean ratings from round 1. Although using informa-
tion from the previous roundbased on different questions and instructions seems
unusual, it represents a common approach in Delphi studies (Houtz and Weinermann
1997;Kosteretal.2005;Volman2005). The idea behind presenting means and
standard deviations is to give the experts some basic information on how topics were
evaluated in the expert panel.
For each topic, we calculated how many experts had chosen this particular topic in the
second round (in percent). This information was used in the third round and presented along
with each topic. The questionnaire looked quite similar except for the arrangement of items
in a descending order by frequency. Additionally, we individualized the questionnaire and
provided each participant with information about his or her response behavior in the second
round. If a person had selected a topic in the second round, we presented an Xnext to this
topic. In other words, for each topic, participants knew how many other experts had chosen
this topic and whether they had chosen it in the previous round or not (Table 5). By using
this design, we wanted to raise cognitive conflict (especially in the case of a mismatch, i.e.,
high frequency in group but not chosen by individual and vice versa) which is essential for
We intended both to keep selection rates within content areas nearly constant, i.e., we wanted to avoid cases
where one person selects only two topics whereas another person selects all topics and to avoid arbitrarily
weighting all content areas equally. Therefore, we conducted a small additional study with participants of the
same sample (N=35). Herein, experts had to allocate different amounts of credit hours to the different content
areas. The mean over all experts was round to full numbers and presented in the instruction.
Educational psychology in teacher education 1551
systematic information processing as a precondition for a possible consensus (e.g., Petty and
Brinol 2008a,b). Note again that participants never interacted face-to-face. This would allow
a possible increasing consensus to be attributed to the way feedback was provided and not to
social phenomena like group pressure or characteristics of persons (Baron and Kerr 2003;
Linstone and Turoff 1975).
Table 2 Content area development: final ranking of topics with means (standard deviation) for first round and
selection rates (average deviation index) for second and third rounds
Topic Round 3 Round 2 Round 1
) % (AD
1 Cognitive development 100 (0) 100 (0) 2.39 (0.66)
2 Development of motivational, emotional, and behavioral regulation 93.8 (0.12) 91.8 (0.15) 2.45 (0.6 4)
3 Role of family, peers, and school in psychosocial development 93.8 (0.12) 91.8 (0.15) 2.34 (0.62)
4 Development of language and preconditions of language acquisition 93.8 (0.12) 81.6 (0.30) 2.22 (0.70)
5 Development of social cognition 87.5 (0.22) 79.6 (0.32) 2.31 (0.67)
6 Development of personality and self-concept 79.2 (0.33) 63.3 (0.46) 2.05 (0.65)
7 Moral development 66.7 (0.44) 61.2 (0.47) 2.11 (0.70)
8 Development of reading comprehension 58.3 (0.49) 59.2 (0.48) 2.24 (0.64)
9 Development of conceptual knowledge 45.8 (0.5) 46.9 (0.50) 2.18 (0.73)
10 Development of mathematics performance 35.4 (0.46) 44.9 (0.49) 2.25 (0.65)
11 Social constructivism 27.1 (0.39) 42.9 (0.49) 2.02 (0.71)
12 Sensor and motor development in early childhood 8.3 (0.15) 10.2 (0.18) 1.91 (0.72)
13 Development over the life-span 6.3 (0.12) 2.0 (0.04) 1.83 (0.69)
Average deviation indexvalues below 0.33 indicate sufficient practical agreement
Table 3 Content area assessment: final ranking of topics with means (standard deviation) for first round and
selection rates (average deviation index) for second and third rounds
Topic Round 3 Round 2 Round 1
) % (AD
1 Data collection methods and procedures 97.9 (0.04) 95.9 (0.08) 2.17 (0.70)
2 Test score interpretation 97.9 (0.04) 89.8 (0.18) 2.11 (0.64)
3 Performance and behavior assessment 95.8 (0.08) 95.9 (0.08) 2.61 (0.56)
4 Basic concepts of test criteria (objectivity, reliability, validity) 95.8 (0.08) 93.9 (0.11) 2.18 (0.71)
5 Theory, hypothesis, scientific observation, falsification,
internal/ external validity)
89.6 (0.19) 83.3 (0.28) 2.13 (0.69)
6 Basic concepts of assessment 83.3 (0.28) 73.5 (0.39) 2.03 (0.70)
7 Descriptive statistics 77.1 (0.35) 67.3 (0.44) 1.79 (0.67)
8 Qualitative research methods 72.9 (0.39) 65.3 (0.45) 1.84 (0.65)
9 Basic concepts of experimental settings 66.7 (0.44) 61.2 (0.47) 1.80 (0.61)
10 Evaluation designs 41.7 (0.49) 46.9 (0.50) 1.76 (0.64)
11 Test theories and test construction 35.4 (0.46) 38.8 (0.47) 1.76 (0.68)
12 Inferential statistics 27.1 (0.39) 30.6 (0.42) 1.55 (0.58)
13 Scale levels 16.7 (0.28) 26.5 (0.39) 1.73 (0.67)
Average deviation indexvalues below 0.33 indicate sufficient practical agreement
1552 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
Statistical analyses
The three different Delphi rounds require various statistical procedures to answer the three
research questions. Firstly, we calculated how often each topic was chosen in round 3 within the
expert sample (in percent) and ranked topics in descending order to identify key topics within
each content area (research question 1, RQ1). Secondly, we conducted a repeated measures
analysis of variance to explore the relationship between groups of educators and the rating of
psychological topics to show initial similarities and differences between groups of teacher
educators (RQ2). Finally, within-group agreement in the whole sample was calculated for each
content area using the Average Deviation Index (Burke and Dunlap 2002; Burke et al. 1999)to
show increasing and finally sufficient consensus between rounds 2 and 3.
As this index is rarely used in the field of educational psychology (except, for example,
Dettmers et al. 2010; Gärtner 2010; Lüdtke et al. 2006), some explanations are warranted.
The AD
expresses agreement as the absolute deviation of individual responses from the
group mean.
where x
is the individual response, xis the group mean, and Nis the group size. Obviously,
the AD
is more a measure of disagreement, that is, lower values indicate a better within-
group agreement. For multiple item scales, the AD
can be calculated as the mean over the
s for each item in the item set with the size J.
This index is superior to other indices such as the r
(James et al. 1984,1993) because
no assumption is necessary about a distribution of non-agreement (for a discussion on the
Table 4 Part of first round questionnaire for content area learning
the scientific
learning motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation, task- and self-orientation, learning-
and achievement-orientation)
Social learning (Teachers as behavioral
models, Bandura, violence in the media)
metacognition and self-regulated learning
(learning strategies, theory of mind)
teaching as a
reflection of one’s
actions as
All texts were translated by the first author
Educational psychology in teacher education 1553
properties of the AD
, the reader is referred to Cohen et al. 2009; Dunlap et al. 2003; Lohse-
Bossenz et al. in press). Furthermore, agreement is expressed in the scale of the response
format. To evaluate the size of the AD
in practical terms, Burke and Dunlap (2002)
proposed c/6 (c=number of categories) as a rule-of-thumb. Empirical values below this
threshold show sufficient within-group agreement (round 1 with three-point Likert scale
threshold=0.50; round 2/3 with dichotomous response format threshold =0.33). As group
size is relatively high, a correction to the AD
as proposed by Lohse-Bossenz et al. (in
press) for small groups (N<15) is not necessary.
Additionally, the AD
could be evaluated statistically by using so-called critical
values. Critical values were calculated by using a Monte Carlo procedure as described
in Dunlap et al. (2003) using the multilevel package (Bliese 2009)forR
(R Development Core Team 2011). The critical values for a group of 48 experts
evaluating 13 items (for content areas development and assessment) and 17 items
(content area learning) on a three-point Likert scale are 0.65 and 0.66, respectively.
Empirical values smaller than these indicate statistically sufficient agreement. Note that
agreement could be considered statistically but not practically sufficient and vice versa
(for a discussion on practical and statistical agreement, see Burke and Dunlap 2002;
Cohen et al. 2009; Dunlap et al. 2003; Lohse-Bossenz et al. in press).
Identifying key topics (RQ1)
As the discussion about useful knowledge for teachers is mostly located at the level of
content areas, one aim of this study was to identify which topics possess the greatest
importance within the abstract areas of learning, development, and assessment in the eyes
of an interdisciplinary expert group. Experts had the opportunity to add topics to each
content area. Interestingly, nobody used this opportunity. Therefore, one may assume that
the list of 43 topics within the three content areas is exhaustive for teacher education at least
in the eyes of the given expert panel. Tables 1to 3present the final rankings of topics within
their respective content areas together with their mean rating in the first round and the
selection frequencies in the second and third rounds.
Table 5 Part of individualized third round questionnaire for content area learning
Before making your decision, please review all possible topics within this content area.
98 X
2nd ra
2nd rb
learning motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, task- and self-orientation, learning- and
Social learing (Teachers as behavioral models, Bandura, violence in the media)
metacognition and self-regulated learning (learning strategies, theory of mind)
All texts were translated by the first author
Selection frequency of topic in second round
Selection of topic by specific person in second round (X=person selected item in round 2)
1554 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
Looking at the topics within the different content areas, we can summarize that surpris-
ingly, instead of theories about learning (e.g., social learning; 79.2 %), the central topics in
this content area include knowledge about motivation (97.9 %) and self-regulated learning
(89.6 %). Concerning development, knowledge about cognitive (100 %) and motivational
development (93.8 %) and the influence of social contexts (93.8 %) are considered most
relevant for teacher education at university. In the assessment area, experts clearly choose
basic topics for assessment within the classroom, that is, knowledge about data collection
methods (97.9 %), interpretation of test scores (97.9 %), and performance assessments such
as grading students (95.8 %).
In addition, topics which experts evaluated as less important in a time-constrained curricu-
lum include development of expertise (12.5 %) and attention (14.6 %) in the content area of
learning. Developmental topics that do not directly tackle the school context, such as sensor and
motor development in early childhood (8.3 %) or development over the life-span (6.3 %), are
ranked at the bottom of the list. Inferential statistics (27.1 %) as a rather complex and difficult
topic and scale levels (16.7 %) are considered less important in the assessment area.
Initial differences and similarities between groups of teacher educators (RQ2)
After reporting the main results of our study, we will now have a closer look at the initial
evaluation of psychological topics by different teacher educators as the second aim of the study.
The mean rating over all topics in the first round is slightly above the scale mean, M=2.14,
SD= 0.24. The mean ratings differ depending on the content area, that is, topics within the
content area learning are rated slightly higher, M=2.24, SD=0.18, than development, M=2.18,
SD= 0.18. Topics concerning assessment obtain the lowest ratings, M=1.96, SD=0.28.
To get an impression of the differences between different expert groups and their
evaluation of content areas and the respective topics, we plotted the ratings of different
groups for each content area (Fig. 1) and conducted a repeated measures analysis of variance
with content area as the within factor. The group (psychologists, non-psychologists, and
educators from the induction phase) was included as a between-group factor. A main effect
for content area should be obvious, F(2,90)=17.99, p< 0.05, η
=0.11. In contrast, there is no
main effect of group, F(2,45)=1.08, p> 0.05. However, as Fig. 1 indicates, the groups seem
to differ concerning their rating profiles. This is also revealed by a significant interaction
effect, F(4,90)= 3.06, p<0.05, η
=0.04. Whereas psychologists clearly rate learning higher
than both other content areas, non-psychologists at university consider learning and devel-
opment equally important. Interestingly, a clear hierarchy of content areas can be identified
for educators from the induction phase, with learning at the top and assessment at the
bottom. Note that assessment topics are still considered relatively useful and should not be
excluded from teacher education.
To obtain deeper insights into similarities and differences between the groups, we
calculated multivariate analyses of variances within each content area, with the topics as
dependent variables and the expert group as the independent factor. Whereas no overall main
effect could be found for any content area (learning, F(17,29) =1.82, p>0.05; development,
F(13,33)=1.33, p> 0.05; assessment, F(13,33)=1.57, p>0.05), some group differences exist
on the level of topics using univariate analysis of variance. Models of memory, F(1,45)=9.21,
p<0.05; knowledge transfer, F(1,45)=5.21, p<0.05; and learning motivation, F(1,45)=6.30,
p<0.05 are rated higher by teacher educators fromthe induction phase,M=2.48, 2.44, and 2.73,
respectively, than by psychologists, M=2.1, 2.04 and 2.41, or non-psychologists at university,
M=1.98, 2.03, and 2.38. The opposite is true for descriptive statistics, F(1,45)= 4.19, p<0.05;
where educators from the inductionphase ratedthese topics lower,M=1.54 than psychologists,
Educational psychology in teacher education 1555
M=1.90, and non-psychologists at university, M=1.89. Metacognition and self-regulated
learning, F(1,45)=4.84, p<0.05, is the only topic where psychologists, M=2.43, and educators
from the induction phase, M=2.48, differ from non-psychologists, M=2.15. To sum up, despite
some slight differences, it is noteworthy that experts already gave similar ratings to these topics.
This presented a good basis to foster a higher consensus within the expert panel.
Agreement and consensus in the expert sample (RQ3)
The last aim of this study was to overcome the initial differences between various teacher
education groups concerning the evaluation of psychological topics. This is why we applied
an iterative method which we hoped would result in sufficient agreement in the expert
sample. The results of the analysis of variance might already imply a high level of
To support this impression, we calculated the Average Deviation Index (AD
expert sample. The AD
s of 0.50, 0.53, and 0.50 for learning, development, and assessment,
respectively, show a within-group agreement that is slightly above the threshold (c=3 categories
thus threshold=0.50). Therefore, in line with the perspective of Dunlap et al. (2003), no
sufficient practical agreement seems to exist in the first round. However, all values are below
the critical values, indicating a statistically sufficient agreement with p<0.05. The AD
for those topics with a significant group main effect range from 0.42 to 0.52.
In the second and third rounds, the instruction was supposed to emulate a selection
procedure in the context of teacher education, that is, to choose a certain number out of a
larger body of topics. As a consequence, the response format for rounds 2 and 3 was
dichotomous (selected vs. not selected). Thus, AD
values below 0.33 can be considered
as practically sufficient agreement. Over all topics in the second round, the content areas
learning, development, and assessment obtain values of 0.37, 0.31, and 0.33, respectively.
As a result of the iterative process, AD
s for the third round decrease to 0.32, 0.27, and 0.22
for learning, development, and assessment, respectively. Note, however, that the instruction
and the response format changed between rounds 1 and 2, and therefore, AD
values could
not be directly compared between these rounds. Furthermore, the decrease between rounds 2
Educators from
induction period
mean rating
Learning Development Assessment
Fig. 1 Mean ratings of content areas for the three different groups of teacher educators (with standard errors
for mean)
1556 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
and 3 is important but still only descriptive in nature, and additional analyses would have to
be conducted to show significant increase of agreement.
Consequently, to support the findings of a sufficient agreement and a significant increase
in consensus between rounds 2 and 3, we used Fleisskappa (Fleiss 1971)a measure based
on Cohens kappa (Cohen 1960), which applies for multiple raters. The calculated value can
be transferred to z-values, making statistical tests possible (Fleiss 1971). The results indicate
a statistically significant agreement for all 43 topics both in the second, κ
=0.273, z=59.9,
p<0.001 and in the third round, κ
=0.374, z=82.4, p< 0.001. Additionally, the increase in
Fleisskappa is also statistically significant, Δκ=0.116, Δz=22.5, p<0.001.
Taking a closer look at the topics with a group main effect in round 1 (based on the
ANOVA) reveals an improvement of consensus. All AD
s on the topic-level in round 1
were above the practical values (except learning motivation in the content area learning). In
round 3, in contrast, disagreement still only exists concerning knowledge transfer,
=0.33, and descriptive statistics, AD
=0.35. However, an inspection of other
topics that did not reveal significant differences in the analysis of variance further
indicates that experts obviously focus on important topics which provide the basis for
the key topics within each content area.
To sum up, despite some differences in the first round, the iterative procedure led to an
increased practically and statistically sufficient agreement within the group of experts with
different professional backgrounds and perspectives. The results can therefore be considered
a consensus within the group of teacher educators.
Learning, development, and assessment can be perceived as key areas in the field of
educational psychology. The research results obtained in this article can provide useful
guidelines for the teaching profession (e.g., O'Donnell and Levin 2001). Over the last
decades, psychological research has accumulated much knowledge about educational pro-
cesses which often makes it difficult to select topics which are relevant for teacher candi-
dates in order to effectively foster learning within their students (Patrick et al. 2011;
Woolfolk Hoy 2000). In this paper, we argue that the large variety of potentially relevant
topics might pose difficulties for teacher educators to effectively plan a course on, for
example, psychological aspects of learning.
The first aim of this study, therefore, was to identify relevant topics within three
psychological content areas (i.e., learning, development, and assessment). For this purpose,
we ranked several topics so teacher educators could use them, for example, to plan their
courses. As different groups of persons are involved in teacher education, we then investi-
gated initial differences and similarities concerning the evaluation of psychological topics.
The results indicated some minor differences on the level of concrete topics, but overall,
psychological topics were considered important for teachers. To further support the accep-
tance of our results, our next step was to examine how agreement improved over consecutive
rounds of the Delphi procedure. In fact, agreement increased significantly from the second to
the third round and an acceptable consensus was obtained within the expert panel.
Contributions of the study
In order to answer our research questions, we applied a step-by-step procedure. First of all,
we distinguished between content areas defining broad categories within educational
Educational psychology in teacher education 1557
psychology and topics specifying those content areas and searched for topics within the
content areas learning, development, and assessment, with respect to teacher education.
Thereafter, we asked a sample of different teacher educators to evaluate these topics within
each content area concerning their respective relevance for teacher education. After the
identification of initial differences between subgroups of teacher educators, we finally used
the Delphi Method to reach consensus in the expert sample on key topics which the experts
considered most relevant for teachers to know within each content area.
The resulting list of topics for each content area may be useful on different levels of teacher
education. First, we aim to contribute to an emerging scientific debate about the role of
educational psychology in teacher education, especially within European countries. Further,
on the level of curriculum development for teachers, this list could be a basis for a core
curriculum within teacher education (EURYDICE 2002). However, it is difficult to apply
certain cutoff values as the validity of these values could not be sufficiently proven. Finally,
it is suggested that lecturers at local institutions preparing their courses should incorporate at
least some materials referring to learning motivation and self-regulated learning (content area
learning); cognitive development and motivational, emotional, and behavioral regulation
(content area development); and data collection procedures and test score interpretation (content
area assessment)as they represent the most important topics within each content area.
The following points support the validity of our results. Firstly, the topics used are based
on official documents, current textbooks, and teacher standards, and no topics were added by
the expert sample, most likely indicating that the 43 topics cover the essential psychological
content teachers may need to know, at least in the three content areas. In fact, we are
convinced that no topic is missing which could have obtained a very high rank in the list of
topics. However, it could surely be the case that certain topics of lesser importance are
missing or hidden within larger topics. Secondly, we used an empirical iterative procedure
with a large expert sample. As regards the diversity of the group and the applied selection
criteria, the sample size could be considered relatively large compared to common sample
sizes in comparable Delphi studies or expert panels which typically range from 10 to 30
(Häder 2002; Houtz and Weinermann 1997; Parenté et al. 1984; Volman 2005). The sample
consists of a wide range of experts both from university, with a more theoretical approach to
teacher education, and from the induction phase, with a more applied perspective.
Additionally, we showed that differences between groups of teacher educators do not seem
as large as one might have expected. In fact, not only psychologists seem to value
psychological topics highly in teacher education: The importance of psychology for teacher
education is likely also acknowledged outside the psychological domain. This is an impor-
tant point, as one may assume that different teacher educators could have tried to replicate
their accustomed curriculum at their local institutions or based their answers on their own
scientific background. However, as we included a great variety of institutions and groups of
teacher educators, it seems less likely that one group of experts may have exerted such a
great influence on the results. Finally, despite the broad expert sample, we gained a sufficient
consensus within the expert group. This may support the trustworthiness of the final list as
the list could be considered approved by a large sample of different teacher educators, at
least for the topics at the top and the bottom of each content area. In contrast, group
consensus could also have been caused by pressure for conformity often observed within
groups (e.g. Baron and Kerr 2003), that is, group members may have changed their
individual opinion to adhere to some salient social norm. However, the Delphi study was
designed to avoid personal interaction between participants and information from the expert
panel was fed back anonymously. Furthermore, participation was voluntary and not linked to
any personal consequences, thus reducing the pressure for conformity.
1558 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
The current study empirically supports the discussion about a core teacher curriculum
(Zeichner 2005). However, there are some limitations which should be tackled in future
studies. We focused on three main content areas which are predominantly psychological, but
there are also other content areas within non-subject specific teacher education where a
critical (empirical) reflection upon the usefulness of certain topics is warranted as well, for
example, instruction or handling diversity. For these content areas, the proposed
multidisciplinary approach also seems suitable. Results for educational foundations as a
whole can be found in Kunina-Habenicht et al. (2012).
Further, due to the origin of the project in which this study is embedded, the expert sample
was recruited only within one German federal state, which may reduce generalizability of
results across borders. However, if educators believe in a nation-dependent impact of
educational psychology on teacher education, the current study could be replicated and the
results could be compared. Indeed, it seems an interesting empirical question to what extent
results could be replicated across European countries with different teacher education systems
(i.e., concurrent and consecutive systems). Additionally, the current study was conducted
within a system dividing a first education phase at university and a second on-the-job
qualifying phase at schools. Experts selected topics for the first part of teacher education, and
it would, thus, be interesting to examine priorities both at the end of the induction phase and at
the end of formal teacher education in systems without a formal induction phase.
Additionally, the expertswere instructed to rate or to select several topics respectively, and
the response formats represent a three-point Likert scale and a dichotomous scale, respec-
tively. We did not ask the participants to justify their decisions and, thus, did not obtain any
information on the reasons for the ranking. However, it is obvious that the experts differen-
tiated between topics and were able to select certain topics. Future studies may thus use, for
instance, focus groups to discuss the plausibility of the results with a different expert sample.
Finally, the ranking of topics is only valid within the respective content areas. From a
methodological perspective, different numbers of topics within content areas lead to non-
comparable selection rates between content areas. A selection rate of 50 % for learning is not
equivalent to 50 % for assessment. An interesting question would be to break up the
established content areas and directly compare psychological topics. However, this would
result in a higher cognitive load for participants and thus may distort results.
Future research questions
On a general level, university teacher education provides learning opportunities to develop,
among many other things, psychological knowledge. A crucial point, after the identification of
key topics, is to make theoretical psychological knowledge accessible to prospective teachers
and to put it into practice. How could, for example, concepts of learning motivation be applied
to the daily work of teachers? In the past, for example, promising course proposals have been
developed for initial teacher educationeach highlighting a special aspect: learning (Renninger
1996), instruction (Blumenfeld et al. 1996), assessment (Remesal 2011; Schneider and Plasman
2011; Taylor and Nolen 1996), and using teaching models (Kiewra and Gubbels 1997;
Woolfolk Hoy 1996). The majority of these courses use psychological theories to reflect upon
ones own practice, which marks an important step in making formal knowledge relevant for
teachers and in making it applicable to the local teaching context (e.g.,Cheng et al. 2012;Hillet
al. 2005; König et al. 2011; Korthagen and Kessels 1999;LeFevre2011; Remesal 2011;
Schneider and Plasman 2011; Taylor and Nolen 1996).
Educational psychology in teacher education 1559
Another important point is the differentiation between learning and teaching (Renninger
1996; Woolfolk Hoy 2000), which are often mixed up by students who think that a special
teaching method inevitably leads to successful learning. Instead, it is important for teachers
to gain knowledge of how students learn to design teaching methods themselves (Woolfolk
Hoy 2000). In this respect, basic concepts are necessary to understand practice. Korthagen
and Kessels (1999) therefore distinguish between epistemic and phronesic knowledge.
Epistemic knowledge includes general conceptions, applicable to a wide variety of situa-
tions [and] is based on theory(p. 7). In contrast, phronesic knowledge is situation-
specific and related to the context in which [teachers] meet a problem or develop a need or
concern(p. 7) and influences the perception of situations and strengthens the awareness of
concrete characteristics in specific situations. The notion that theoretical knowledge is
necessary to reflect upon daily work (e.g., Cheng et al. 2012) is crucial for the development
of a teacher curriculum and should not be neglected in a discussion about increasing
practical experience in university teacher education. Furthermore, Brouwer and Korthagen
(2005) differentiate between teachersstarting and in-service competence, elaborating on the
fact that teachers cannot acquire all possible knowledge by the end of university and that
knowledge acquisition and professional development are a continuing process over the
teaching career.
Therefore, based on the identification of important psychological topics, we aimed at
developing a standardized test procedure measuring epistemic psychological knowledge at
the end of university. Using such a test will help us to answer several questions. The first
question arising deals with a comparison of theoretical and empirical structureis teacher
candidatespsychological knowledge structured along the content areas of learning, devel-
opment and assessment? Another question would be to shed light on teacher candidates
processes of knowledge development during university and how this is linked to learning
opportunities. However, the most interesting question would deal with the impact of
psychological knowledge on teachersprofessional behavior. Do teachers who have a
profound knowledge of learning processes give better instruction to their students? Does
knowledge of cognitive development lead to the choice of individually appropriate tasks? Or
finally, does better knowledge of assessment lead to better performance assessment and
therefore to better instruction? Answering these and other similar questions will help to
empirically support the importance of psychological knowledge for teachers.
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Hendrik Lohse-Bossenz. Department of Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Goethe-University
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Teacher education, teachersprofessional competence, psychology as part of teachersprofessional knowl-
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Relevant publications:
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Welche bildungswissenschaftlichen Inhalte sind wichtig in der Lehrerbildung? Ergebnisse einer Delphi-
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Olga Kunina-Habenicht. Department of Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Goethe-University
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Current themes of research:
Teacher education, professional competence of teachers, educational measurement, cognitive diagnostic models.
Relevant publications:
Kunina-Habenicht, O., Rupp, A. A., & Wilhelm, O. (2012). The impact of model misspecification on
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Mareike Kunter. Department of Educational Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Goethe-University Frankfurt,
Senckenberganlage 15, Frankfurt/Main 60325, Germany; e-mail:;
Current themes of research:
Professional competence of teachers, teacher career development, classroom instruction, motivation at school.
Relevant publications:
Kunter, M., Frenzel, A., Nagy, G., Baumert, J., & Pekrun, R. (2011). Teacher enthusiasm: Dimensionality and
context specificity. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 36(4), 289301. doi: 10.1016/
Voss, T., Kunter, M., & Baumert, J. (2011). Assessing teacher candidates' general pedagogical and psycho-
logical knowledge: Test construction and validation. Journal of educational psychology 103(4), 952969.
doi: 10.1037/a0025125.
1564 H. Lohse-Bossenz et al.
Baumert, J., Kunter, M., Blum, W., Brunner, M., Voss, T., Jordan, A., et al. (2010). Teachers' mathematical
knowledge, cognitive activation in the classroom, and student progress. American Educational Research
Journal, 47(1), 133180. doi: 10.3102/0002831209345157.
Kunter, M., Tsai, Y.-M., Klusmann, U., Brunner, M., Krauss, S., & Baumert, J. (2008). Students' and
mathematics teachers' perceptions of teacher enthusiasm and instruction. Learning and Instruction,
18(5), 468482. doi: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2008.06.008.
Furtak, E., & Kunter, M. (2012). Effects of autonomy supportive teaching on student learning and motivation.
Journal of Experimental Education 80(3), 284316. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2011.573019.
Educational psychology in teacher education 1565
... And yet, like Narciss (2019), Lohse-Bossenz, Kunina-Habenicht, & Kunter (2013) suggested that such broad category domains provide insufficient guidance to instructors who seek to develop a curriculum that meets the needs of applied professionals, like teachers in the classroom. The category domains are also not particularly useful as standards for pre-service teacher instruction, per se. ...
... The category domains are also not particularly useful as standards for pre-service teacher instruction, per se. Thus, Lohse-Bossenz et al. (2013) sought to quantitatively assess which specific topics within the common domains were seen as important, relevant, and of practical utility to the three important groups of education-specific constituents: education faculty; supervisors of teacher induction programs; and pre-service teachers. Using a list of topics drawn from textbooks, literature, interviews, and educational governing standards, Lohse-Bossenz et al. (2013) tested 43 topic areas across the categories of learning, development, and assessment. ...
Full-text available
Educational psychology is a field that straddles two large domains: education and psychology. Reaching far back into antiquity, the field was borne from philosophies and theories that weaved back and forth between each domain all with the intent of understanding the way learners learn, teachers teach, and educational settings should be effectively designed. This chapter tells the story of educational psychology – its evolution, its characteristics, and the insights it provides for understanding it as a field of study, teaching it at the tertiary level of education, and leveraging its findings in the classroom. The chapter begins with a rationale for a curriculum of educational psychology, tracing its core teaching and learning objectives. It describes the topics that are core to the field, as well as the theory-based and evidence-based strategies and approaches for teaching it effectively. It discusses the basic principles of effective teaching, including problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and small-group and service-based learning, among others. Finally, it addresses technology in learning, open-university teaching and learning, and closes with a discussion of the best approaches – both theory-based and evidence-based – for assessing the core competencies of the field.
... Insufficient training in the psychology field, i.e. practical use of psychological knowledge is perceived as negative in the field of undergraduate preparedness. As indicated by Lohse-Bossens, Kunina-Habenicht and Kunter (2013), the issue of the content of psychological disciplines in teacher education, in this case pedagogical psychology, is still complicated with respect to the overlap into pedagogical practice. Criticism is also directed at disciplinary didactics, which are viewed by teachers too theoretically, which limits the practical training for teaching individual subjects. ...
Changing societal demands and new disciplines place considerable pressure on teachers. The teacher must be able to absorb these innovations and transform them into a form that can be communicated to their pupils. For this, teachers need to be properly trained in undergraduate education, equipped with the necessary professional competences. The article is conceived as a qualitative study whereby on the basis of semi-structured interviews, the aim is to find out how primary school teachers assess their undergraduate training after five years' practice. The research results show that the undergraduate training can identify the strengths and weaknesses. Training in the subject field is perceived positively. Teachers have a positive attitude towards training for the preparation and implementation of lessons. The ability to organize and manage the educational process in the classroom is equally positive. The ability to obtain feedback and work with it is one of the other benefits in undergraduate training, this benefits pupils, as well as benefitting themselves. The ability to use diagnostics and intervention is on the borderline between positive and negative perception of training. Here, teachers appreciate the knowledge component positively, but lack more practical examples and cases in order to acquire more knowledge and apply it in practice. Inadequate training in the field of psychology, i.e. practical use of psychological knowledge, is generally perceived as the negative. Criticism is also directed at disciplinary didactics, which are too theoretical for teachers. However, as a whole, the undergraduate training system is assessed more positively.
... Not meeting teacher needs and expectations may cause them to feel burnout, decrease their initial motivation and lead to various results. Inadequacies occur due to various reasons such as the theoretical content of the trainings given, the lack of practical courses, and health problems (Lohse-Bossenz, Kunina-Habenicht, & Kunter, 2013;Patrick, Anderman, Bruening, & Duffin, 2011;Dasen, 2006). ...
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The aim of this research is to get the opinions of psycho-diagnostic activity on the vocational training of educational psychologists of the trainings given at the university for the organization of psychodiagnostic activities in the educational environment. With the findings to be obtained from this research, it can be concluded that the efficiency of the pedagogical activity and the education of the future occupational groups can be effective. Qualitative research design was used in this study. The psychodiagnostic readiness levels of teacher candidates studying at university were measured. The study group of the research consists of 78 senior students studying at the faculty of education at universities. The research questions were applied with the permission of the ethics committee. In the spring semester of 2021-2022, a working group was formed with the last year teacher candidates studying at the education faculties of two universities. The findings obtained from the research were analyzed with the content analysis method. According to the results of the research, it was concluded that the readiness of the people who will do the teaching profession should be increased by increasing the psychological knowledge in teacher education in educational institutions. Keywords: Formation, university, pre-service teacher, psychological, psycho-diagnostic
... A diverse spectrum of psychological knowledge is of relevance to the endeavor of training student teachers in professional skills and mindsets and providing them with competencies in lesson planning and the assessment and diagnosis of issues with teaching, learning, and social interaction. In most countries, psychological knowledge applicable to educational contexts is therefore a mandatory component of teacher education (Lohse-Bossenz et al., 2013). ...
This experimental field study (pre-post-follow-up design) with 184 student teachers examined the effectiveness of an intervention to reduce misconceptions about psychology within an introductory psychology course. For this purpose, over the course’s one-semester duration, all students attended six lectures and, in addition, worked individually on six assignments in between. In both, the intervention and control group, assignments covered the same learning content but assignments for the intervention group particularly addressed six topic-related misconceptions, and were designed to bring about conceptual change. These assignments included refutational texts and other tasks that triggered conceptual inconsistency and emphasized students’ use of scientific concepts. Students in the control group completed assignments designed for rehearsal of and elaboration on the topics at hand but were not exposed to the respective misconceptions. The findings demonstrate the efficacy of this slight modification of tasks in reducing students’ misconceptions around psychology. While the groups did not differ in exam performance, the positive associations found between exam performance and high-confidence rejection of psychological myths, and their correlation with evaluativist epistemic beliefs and critical thinking, underline the importance of early interventions in teacher education with the aim of dispelling misconceptions about psychology.
... Moreover, education and psychology are both important subjects in the social sciences. Like psychology students, education students in Pakistan have some knowledge concerning human nature and behavior because they study educational psychology as part of their courses (Lohse-Bossenz et al., 2013;Nezhad & Vahedi, 2011). Therefore, the present study examined the fear of COVID-19 among the undergraduate and postgraduate students (studying the subjects of education and psychology) in the public universities of Lahore. ...
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the lifestyles of individuals all over the world, induced a fear of virus transmission and confusion, and brought about many other potentially devastating psychological impacts. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, governments all over the world have implemented various practices including lockdowns, home quarantines, spatial distancing, and online teaching within schools, colleges, and/or universities. The present cross-sectional study was carried out to investigate the associations between socio-demographic factors and fear of COVID-19 among undergraduate and postgraduate students in public universities Lahore, Pakistan. Data were collected utilizing an online Google Forms survey based on a convenience sample of 397 undergraduate and postgraduate students of public universities (78% female; mean age = 24 years), enrolled in the subject of education (54%) and psychology (46%) when the virus was spreading rapidly throughout Pakistan. All the participants completed the Fear of COVID-19 Scale and questions concerning socio-demographic variables. Results indicated that the fear of COVID-19 was higher among the education students and female students. Fear of COVID-19 (i.e., scores on the FCV-19S) was positively associated with the participants’ personal or family history of illness and number of deaths in family. The level of fear of COVID-19 was different among the students who had physical illness, psychological illness, and no any history of illness personally or in their family.
... First, student teachers enhance their own use of learning strategies. Second, student teachers are enabled to assess learning strategies formatively and to foster other learners' learning-strategy use (including their own future students at school) -an important skill for future teachers (Askell-Williams et al., 2012;Brophy, 2000;Kiewra & Gubbels, 1997;Lohse-Bossenz et al., 2013). ...
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The study focused on supporting the distinct processes of assessment and providing feedback within a peer feedback setting in teacher education and investigates the effects on student teachers’ self-efficacy and feedback quality in a quasi-experiment. Student teachers ( n = 129) were asked to repeatedly provide peer feedback on learning strategies and were supported by a digital tool. The support was varied: support in assessment (A; realized by rubrics), in formulating the feedback (F; by providing sentence starters), in both components (A+F), or no support (Control). We conducted a 2 × 2 analysis of variance (ANOVA) to measure the effect on feedback quality and 2 × 2×2 mixed ANOVAs to investigate the effects on self-efficacy. Results revealed that student teachers perceived higher self-efficacy regarding assessing learning strategies and giving feedback after repeatedly giving and receiving peer feedback. While supporting feedback-writing (F) was immediately beneficial for students’ self-efficacy, the combination (A + F) was most advantageous in the long run. In addition, feedback quality was higher when students were supported in writing the feedback. The findings show that competencies to assess and to give feedback seem to be distinct components that should be fostered individually. The developed support by the digital tool seems to be one beneficial approach here.
... If teachers harbor misconceptions, they might teach less effectively than they would with evidence-based knowledge (Bensley et al., 2014;Menz et al., 2020;Pasquinelli, 2012). General pedagogical/psychological knowledge is compulsory for teacher education programs in most countries (Heyder et al., 2018;Lohse-Bossenz et al., 2013). For example, the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL, 2011) has professional knowledge about "students and how they learn" as the first of seven teaching standards and this is predominantly taught in educational psychology courses within teacher training programs. ...
Fostering metacognitive awareness of misconceptions should enhance deep processing of scientifically correct explanations and thereby decrease misconceptions. To explore these potentially beneficial effects, we conducted a field study implemented in a regular educational psychology course in an Australian teacher education program. In a two-by-two within-subject experimental design, student teachers ( n = 119) answered misconception questionnaires, made metacognitive judgments, and participated in awareness activities at the start (T1) and the end (T2) of the semester (within-subject factor: time). Half of the misconception items focused on educational psychology course content, while the other half focused on related topics that were not covered in the course (non-course content). Awareness activities (AA) consisted of providing feedback regarding all misconception items. During the lectures, we provided additional scientifically correct refutational explanations (RE) regarding course content. Thus, we compared the combined AA+RE treatment for course content with the AA treatment for non-course content (within-subject factor: treatment). Our findings confirm that student teachers harbor numerous high-confidence educational psychological misconceptions. Furthermore, awareness activities plus refutational explanations resulted in significant increases in metacognitive awareness and in performance. Additionally, initial metacognitive overconfidence was related to persistent misconceptions, indicating that overconfidence may hinder correction of course content misconceptions.
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In the current literature review, we studied the articles published between 2010 and July 2020 in six prominent educational psychology journals to determine the extent to which students with disabilities (SWD) have recently been included in the field’s most visible literature, and the nature of that inclusion when it occurred. Although scholars routinely cite articles from special education journals, findings indicated that SWD were specifically included in only 11.4% of the studies that were published. Most of these studied detailed interventions to support students’ math and reading skills, with far fewer articles addressing the remaining breadth of topics across the field of educational psychology. After demonstrating the extent to which SWD have been underrepresented in the field’s top journals over the previous decade, we draw on DisCrit theory to describe how constructs such as ableism and multiple models of disability can help scholars resist deficit mindsets about SWD in their classroom-based research samples. We argue for a proliferation of epistemologies (and subsequently methodologies), enabling educational psychologists not only to account for the experiences of SWD in ways that uphold our field’s commitment to rigorous and ecologically valid research, but also to better ensure that educational psychology theories account for the full breadth of human diversity.
El presente artículo tiene como objetivo mostrar el proceso de diseño y validación de un instrumento de medición de los factores socioculturales y demográficos que inciden en la adopción de servicios financieros innovadores por medio de escalas tipo Likert. Para efectos del diseño, se ha tomado como base la Teoría de la Acción Razonada de Fishbein y Ajzen como modelo de análisis actitudinal, mientras que la Teoría de la Difusión de las Innovaciones de Everett Rogers, así como las escalas sumativas (Likert), sirven como instrumentos de medida. El cuestionario se diseña mediante entrevistas preliminares a un grupo de 20 personas con características socioculturales y demográficas distintas, con el fin de orientar la búsqueda en la literatura e investigar sobre el estado del arte. Luego de la búsqueda de escalas utilizadas en más de 300 investigaciones empíricas, el cuestionario es utilizado en dos planes piloto para depurar el diseño. Una vez obtenidos los datos de los planes piloto, el cuestionario es sometido a la validación de la escala utilizando el método Delphi y el Análisis Factorial Confirmatorio, por medio del Modelo de Ecuaciones Estructurales (SEM). Se calculan índices de fiabilidad y validez, y es aceptado en todos los niveles para utilizar el instrumento de medición, lo cual determina la validación completa de la escala
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This paper raises questions regarding the practices of educational psychologists in the school context. The aim is to contribute to the construction of practical knowledge by presenting a study of how the theoretical perspective of the Network of Meanings can help professionals structure their practices in school settings. The dialogue surrounding the practice and the theoretical perspective of the Network of Meanings reveals that educational psychology is involved in all work levels of the school space: pedagogical, administrative and political. In addition, the theory's multi-dimensional approach to human development provides input to reflect on the role of educational psychologists in schools as a whole. Thus, the Network of Meanings approach is considered as an important framework to discuss, elaborate and implement educational psychology practices in the school space.
In this article, I describe an approach to teaching educational psychology that focuses on learning and its implications for instruction. Journal articles and book chapters form a basis for considering issues and applications central to research in educational psychology and classroom practice These are complemented by a multifaceted set of term-long assignments, including laboratory work, tutoring, and participation in an Internet discussion group with teachers. The article begins with an illustration of a portion of the first and last days of the course I teach, providing an exemplar of the way in which students in the class work on developing an understanding of learning. Following this, I discuss the materials and assignments of the course, and links to Anderson et al.'s (1995) call for reform are made. I conclude with some reflections, concerns and observations about this approach with regard to its particular focus on learning.
Recent arguments in science education have proposed that school science should pay more attention to teaching the nature of science and its social practices. However, unlike the content of science, for which there is well-established consensus, there would appear to be much less unanimity within the academic community about which “ideas-about-science” are essential elements that should be included in the contemporary school science curriculum. Hence, this study sought to determine empirically the extent of any consensus using a three stage Delphi questionnaire with 23 participants drawn from the communities of leading and acknowledged international experts of science educators; scientists; historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science; experts engaged in work to improve the public understanding of science; and expert science teachers. The outcome of the research was a set of nine themes encapsulating key ideas about the nature of science for which there was consensus and which were considered to be an essential component of school science curriculum. Together with extensive comments provided by the participants, these data give some measure of the existing level of agreement in the community engaged in science education and science communication about the salient features of a vulgarized account of the nature of science. Although some of the themes are already a feature of existing school science curricula, many others are not. The findings of this research, therefore, challenge (a) whether the picture of science represented in the school science curriculum is sufficiently comprehensive, and (b) whether there balance in the curriculum between teaching about the content of science and the nature of science is appropriate. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 40: 692–720, 2003