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In this chapter, we analyse and reflect on the role of universities in teacher education generally, and with specific reference to India. The relationship has been examined through three cases-United States, Finland, and China-and through further analysis of the disciplinary nature of education and teaching, and the scholarship of teaching and research. The Indian context of university and teacher education is analysed through brief historical shots, coupled with examination of policy discourses visa -vis and stand-alone/composite teacher education institutions. The analysis hovers between scholarship, education knowledge and professionalism of universities (i.e. university education departments) on the one hand, and the school-based practice on the other. Implications have been drawn as to how best higher education and teacher education theory and practice could gel well toward scholarly and quality teacher education in-context, connect university TE with teacher education institutions, connect TE with classroom practices, and connect TE professionalism with research on-ground.
University and Teacher Education
Santosh Panda
Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi
August 2021
(Pre-publication version in: Panda, P. (Ed.) (2021), Handbook on Teacher Education: Governance, Regulations
and Quality Assurance. New Delhi, National Institute of Educational Planning & Administration).
In this chapter, we analyse and reflect on the role of universities in teacher education
generally, and with specific reference to India. The relationship has been examined through
three cases--United States, Finland, and China--and through further analysis of the
disciplinary nature of education and teaching, and the scholarship of teaching and research.
The Indian context of university and teacher education is analysed through brief historical
shots, coupled with examination of policy discourses vis-a-vis and stand-alone/composite
teacher education institutions. The analysis hovers between scholarship, education
knowledge and professionalism of universities (i.e. university education departments) on the
one hand, and the school-based practice on the other. Implications have been drawn as to
how best higher education and teacher education theory and practice could gel well toward
scholarly and quality teacher education in-context, connect university TE with teacher
education institutions, connect TE with classroom practices, and connect TE professionalism
with research on-ground.
Keywords: University-based teacher education, integrated teacher education, stand-alone
institutions, discipline of (teacher) education, teacher education policy, teacher education
One of the most influential higher education thinkers, Phillip Altbach (2017) had noted that
Indian higher education is characterised by some pinnacles of excellence in a sea of
mediocrity, and that there is no dearth of ideas here, but their implementation is problematic.
This equally applies to teacher education too. With over 94,30,839 teachers teaching in
15,51,000 schools, and about 1.4 million teachers being trained in about 19,000 teacher
education institutes (TEIs, including 967 TEIs for teacher educators -- including 230
university departments of education -- and taught by above 150 thousand teacher educators),
it is interesting to analyse to what extent the higher education-based teacher education has
been able to develop quality teacher educators and teachers, and more importantly,
contributed to the quality of schooling and research. This chapter examines the global
scenario vis-à-vis select international cases on the role of university in teacher education
generally, and the Indian context specifically; articulates on education, teacher education and
teaching as disciplines and scholarly activities as compelling arguments in favour of teacher
education as part of the university system; and analyses the considerations of
integrated/stand-alone teacher education, the research-praxis nexus, and the policy discourses
including the recent (2020) national education policy.
International Perspectives
It has been argued that universities, and higher education generally, play a prime and critical
role in initial teacher education and continuing professional development for a variety of
reasons. First, the faculty represents a tradition of intellectual rigour for discipline subjects
and methods of teaching. Second, the teaching-learning pathways and developments are
based on continuous research, mixing theory and praxis especially in the context of classroom
teaching and learning. Third, universities provide the much needed platform and atmosphere
for critical thinking and a critical tradition (Pring, 1999). These arguments, as also any
counter-arguments, need to be examined through examination of national contexts which
could enlighten the consideration of ‘teacher education as part of higher education’. A few
select contrasting cases are analysed below against which the Indian system is examined.
The American System
The American system of teacher education is typical to study in respect of the role of
universities, other providers of teacher education, and also the entry of subject graduates
(without any grounding/training in teacher education) to the teaching profession. As we shall
see, the universities as sole arbiters of teacher education are being eroded gradually with
deregulation by states, and entry of non-university providers of teacher education.
Toward 1940s, even the university departments of education abhorred to include teacher
education as part of their kitty, so also the subsequent deregulation, state control, and opening
of teacher labour market to private players. Placier et al (2016) noted, “More troubling were
the low status of teacher education and university faculty reluctance to identify as teacher
educators” (p.55).
As critically analysed by Levine (2006), that the societal shift from the industrial age to the
information age propelled changes in teacher education that teacher effectiveness measured
through subject knowledge, pedagogy competency, and grounding in child development has
shifted to be measured solely by students’ achievement through common testing measures
across the states. This change has come through a long-drawn debate and strategy
concerning university-based teacher education. In the past, above ninety percent teachers and
teacher educators graduated from above 1200 university-based teacher education colleges,
departments, and schools through a four-year programme. The Rod Paige versus Linda
Darling-Hammond debate has been the turning point in teacher education the debate is not
only about universities as dominant site for teacher education, but also about teacher
education programmes as most appropriate places for preparation of teachers. The Rod Paige
camp (former federal education secretary) believed in teaching as a craft and teachers could
be trained by non-teacher education institutions without any grounding in pedagogy. The
Darling-Hammond camp believed in teaching as a profession which requires study of
pedagogy besides subject expertise, and therefore teachers and teacher educators need to be
developed at teacher education colleges and universities. Those in favour of pedagogy
presented collated outcomes of past five decades of research evidences to show that
pedagogic training in education schools (of universities) had significant impact on teacher
quality; and those based on the Paige report and the that of Abell Foundation argued with the
same research results of the past five decades that study of pedagogy had no impact
whatsoever. Post-2002, United States saw a change, rather shift, from pedagogy to subject
matter expertise (plus some communication skills) in teacher preparation.
The regime of deregulation allowed alternative routes like Teach for America, companies like
Kaplan, and community colleges to train and certify teachers, and that a variety of credit-
based programmes through flexible and blended learning have cropped up. Based on a
national sample survey by the Northwest Evaluation Association, Levine (2006) discovered
strong relationship between teacher subject expertise, pedagogy competency, teaching
experience, and knowledge of development of children in their classes on the one hand, and
quality teaching and quality student learning on the other. Commenting on the university-
based but deregulated competitive system, the author remarked: “The current system serves
teacher education programmes, their universities, and teachers more than it enhances teacher
efficacy” (Levine, 2006, p.43). Further, on interview with a dean of education portrays the
current situation “there was a very real danger that America’s century-long experiment with
university-based teacher education would be declared a failure, giving way to de-regulation,
non-traditional routes, and new providers” (ibid).
While in the name of brining in competition, more of practical and clinical programmes, as
also to enhance innovation and change, the university-based teacher education programmes
are slipping into the hands of non-profit and for-profit independent providers, there is also a
fear of private investors making money out of teacher education ‘transformed into primarily a
competitive market economy’ (Zeichner, 2014).
The Finnish System
The system of teacher education in Finland is typical and distinct from all other nations,
especially in terms of local commitment to and maintenance of quality of teachers, and
school-based mentoring for teacher growth. Sahlberg (2011) noted, “Universities are the only
organizations entitled to issue teacher licenses in Finland” (p.36.).
The early dual-schooling system and the 1968 reform of common 9-year comprehensive
schooling system led to development of a teacher education system that intended to address
the Finnish culture, enhance the status of teachers, and prepare teachers such that they could
compete globally (Niemi, 2012). Based on the 1971 Teacher Education Act, all teacher
education programmes were shifted to universities in 1974, and in 1979 the minimum
qualification for primary and secondary teachers was fixed as a masters degree. This, along
with expanding the scope of pedagogic studies in secondary teacher education, enhanced the
duration of teacher preparation (Placier et al, 2016). Write the authors: “Teaching has
traditionally been a respected occupation, but more rigorous preparation actually made it
more attractive to talented students” (2016, p.47). Equity and inclusion, as also quality
teaching rather than teaching evaluation or monitoring, has been the focus which function in
a ‘culture of trust’. Added to this is the autonomy of teaches and respect for them as higher
professionals, as also decentralization and localization of curriculum.
Universities organize teacher education/training (theory, pedagogy, research) and organize
practice teaching (at three levels basic, advanced, and final practice in the 5-year masters
programme) at university teacher training schools as also at the local schools. Decision on
schools and teaching and teachers is taken jointly by school head and staff and school boards,
and decision on teacher education is taken independently by universities. Primary, middle and
high school teacher education comprises five-year compulsory masters degree, and bachelors
degree is compulsory for pre-school and kindergarten teachers. A highly competitive entrance
test comprising written exam, observation of clinical activity, and interview admits only 10-
15% of those who apply. While primary school teachers specialize in education major, upper
primary and secondary teachers specialize in the combination of subject major, didactics, and
problem-based research. Most important consideration is subject pedagogy (pedagogic
content knowledge) and research on subject pedagogy in-context. Educational theory,
teaching practice, and research methodology are studied in an ‘integrated’ framework. While
university is the sole arbiter of teacher education, “according to legislation, pedagogical
studies must be studied in the science of education with an emphasis on didactics” (Niemi &
Jakku-Sihvonen, 2011, p.35). This systematic case of university-based teacher education
contrasts drastically with the preceding American case; and one can well visualize why
university-based teacher education, with strong focus of subject pedagogy and research on
schooling, and with strict selection and autonomy in professional development have all
contributed to the Finnish teacher education to be the best in the world.
The Chinese System
The People’s Republic of China has a distinct model of teacher education. While the
university teaching departments, colleges and teacher education institutions impart teacher
training, with stress on and judicious balance between strong subject expertise and pedagogic
grounding, other localized community provisions like learning communities around school
coalitions as also master work-studies by master teachers impart wisdom on pedagogy (Ye,
Zhu & Lo, 2019). The year 1993 was the turning point in the Chinese teacher education with
the enactment of the Teacher Law which officially pronounced teaching as a profession. The
Chinese education (especially schooling) and teacher education have been considered as the
ground for national reconstruction and regaining the national glory.
The reforms in Chinese teacher education included on the one hand giving more importance
and increasing allocation to university institutions, and on the other hand allowing graduates
of non-formal institutions to enter the profession through examination and certification.
There has been increase in tertiary education graduates than those from secondary normal
schools. This also shifted the discipline-based teacher education of normal schools and
colleges to more interdisciplinary comprehensive universities considered for their
scholarship. In fact, some normal colleges were elevated to the university-level status.
Generally, teacher education includes study of subject knowledge, educational knowledge,
curriculum and pedagogy, practicum as also general education. There are two streams one
‘double major’ programme of four years which combines academic subject and study of
education, and two, ‘double degree’ programme (i.e. either two undergraduate degrees, or
one UG and one PG degree, or four year undergraduate and one year professional
qualification). In universities, teacher education is organized by two departments education
studies in education department, and discipline departments teach subject-teaching and
supervised practicum, including one semester (18 weeks) of teaching practice. A national
system of teacher education was introduced in 2000, a national testing system in 2011, and
professional standards for teachers in 2012. The teacher education programme accreditation
started in 2017 (valid for six years), and a national certificate examination allows both
teacher education graduates and normal graduates to sit through the same exam to become
teachers. A graduate degree is the minimum qualification to become a teacher.
The Chinese system still believes in teacher-centred and examination-oriented pedagogy,
though freedom is given to teachers to find their own way of dealing with local contexts and
related teaching strategies (Lo, 2019). There exists a lurking fear that more student-centred
approach will give freedom to teachers and students with possibility of inculcating
democratic spirits. However, teachers try their own methods and do not generally have much
trust on the official recommended methods (may be due to old habit and lack of professional
guidance). The students always aim at passing the prestigious and competitive ‘Gaokao
(university entrance examination). In any case, China has been successful in assuring quality
and standards of students (and teachers) in especially Shanghai and Beijing, and projecting to
the world high quality through higher PISA and TALIS achievements though most of the
country’s teacher education may not match with this projection.
There is practice of research-informed teaching; there are local ‘teaching research units’
(combining local subject specialists and teaching-research officers) providing guidance to
school teachers or subject pedagogy and allied areas (including political education). The
teaching-research officers are state-appointees to oversee adherence to Communist ideals.
Though the 1993 law declared teaching as a profession, the Chinese teacher education and
teaching profession is yet to come out of subject-identity to a broader professional identity, or
in other words, to the practice of teaching as a profession (Lo, 2019).
Debates on either university-based or school-based teacher education continue, citing benefits
of one and limitations of the other. What comes out of the above analysis of global teacher
education systems and practices is how teacher educators organize teacher education for
quality teacher development. The major factor across systems and practices is pedagogy and
pedagogical reasoning of teacher educators (as practicing teachers) in addressing the diverse
and complex act of teaching. It is important that teachers are mentored to achieve
pedagogical equilibrium in the act of their teaching. Each teacher educator’s (and teacher’s)
continued quest for pedagogical equilibrium leads to pedagogical reasoning which is largely
tacit. Therefore, in teacher education programmes, it is important to share, reflect, critique
and understand the diversified but tacit pedagogical reasoning of educators and teachers.
This comes from both the university grounding of theory and school grounding of practice.
In this context, writes Loughran (2019) “Through exploring pedagogical reasoning, the way
of practice quickly surfaces and offers insights into understandings of teachers’ knowledge
for, in and of practice. However, their knowledge for, in and of practice is not necessarily
carried as separate and discrete chunks of information, rather, it is conceptualized as holistic
construct with the three… counterbalanced across interlinked continua” (p.527).
In a recent report, Rust (2019) discusses the work of International Forum on Teacher
Educator Development (InFo-TED, USA) which goes beyond the university-based teacher
education to focus on knowledge base of teacher education by integrating the practices of
teacher educators, teachers, and those of students. This scholarship of practice includes
practitioner voices beyond the university departments to also include the community.
Student-teachers therefore need to be exposed to diversity of learning contexts and practices,
especially learning from classroom practices. Not surprising, many teacher education
systems have built-in semester-length school teaching practice (which though needs to go
beyond this to include professional learning and pedagogic diversity through strong teacher
educator mentoring). Write Loughran and Menter (2019) that student-teachers
“simultaneously need to not only learn about teaching (which can appear limited to school
experience) as well as learn about learning (which can appear to be limited to university
teacher education experience)” (p.222).
Education/ Teacher Education as a Discipline
The university versus school-based teacher education agenda could be further reflected in
consideration of teaching as a profession and teacher education as a discipline. This analysis
shall also facilitate to examine if contemporary teacher education in respective
cultures/national systems is visualized to be operating in a higher education setting or in a
practice-based setting, and with what consequence.
About four decades back, Wilson (1980) had underlined that teachers of education must
“display good deal more interest in the rational and intellectual discussion of educational
issues, and a good deal more anxiety to sophisticate the level of that discussion” (p.51).
Twenty-six years later, Hogan (2006) reiterated Wilson’s work by noting that serious
educational discourses should not be clouded by subjective loyalties and ideological
preconceptions, and that educational discourse should be “informed by a facility for reasoned
argument; argument that is as self-critical as it is incisive (p.255). Teacher education as a
discipline or field of study and practice is not exclusive to this.
Today, education is generally visualized as a discipline; and teacher education as professional
knowledge and practice is located within that discipline, which universities could house and
nourish. However, in the recent past, there have been deviations from this, and alternative
routes to teacher preparation have emerged. Such examples include Teach for America
(USA), Teachforall and School Direct (England), Teach for India (India), and many others.
As against these quick-shot developments, it has been argued that teacher educators need to
go beyond training teachers to be classroom-ready to deconstruct and articulate the work of
teaching (Ball & Forzani, 2009); base scholarship, informed of, in, and through practice
(Loughran & Menter, 2019); and locate teacher education within teaching as a discipline
(Loughran & Russell, 2009; Furlong, 2013).
Citing the example of England, Loughran and Menter (2019) note that teacher education is
bureaucratically and politically dealt with, rather than that it is based on ‘scholarship in
teacher education’. The deviation from university-based teacher education occurred through
political decisions on school-led and school-based teacher training (e.g. Teachforall
programme), considered by many as marketisation of teacher education in which the schools
had the choice to choose and work with higher education institutions (not vice versa).
Subsequently, critical concerns have been expressed on how the School Direct model of 2010
has destabilised university teacher education and scarified the tradition of critical enquiry
(Furlong, 2013), and how the relationship between theory and practice (i.e. clinical practice
based on university-based partnership) has been replaced by “conceptions of practice that
integrate situated conceptions of theory responsive to the needs of practice (Brown, 2018,
In the context of university-based ‘scholarship in the teaching of teaching’, Loughran and
Menter (2019) argue that “The ability to learn from experience, through drawing on extant
research, through sophisticated dialogues with colleagues in schools and in university and
through undertaking enquiry oneself all contribute to the development of a teacher… these
are not qualities that are likely to be encouraged by school-based approaches” (p.221).
Another scholar has recognized that “knowledge is acquired through research, through
synthesis, through practice, and through teaching (Boyer, 1990, p.24).
Development of scholarship and pedagogy of teacher education is based on research, which
guides enquiry to shape practice; this provides evidences of teaching-learning about teaching
which others can work on these evidences of practice. Teacher education based in higher
education (or universities) is more capable of understanding and undertaking this than
apprentice-based (school-based) practice in-context. In order to contextualize this, it is
essential to articulate ‘education as a discipline’, ‘teaching as a discipline’, and the
‘scholarship of teaching’ a little further.
Education as a Discipline
In examination of if ‘education’ could quality as a discipline, it may be useful to analyze
what a discipline is all about. A discipline is considered to have its disciplinary structural
knowledge base (i.e. fields of study), tradition of inquiry, distinct mode of inquiry,
community of scholars, clear understanding of elements constituting new knowledge,
professional networks, and distinct training and socialization in the academic discipline (i.e.
its scholars’ approach to understanding and investigating new knowledge in that discipline).
In the pure sciences, correctness of predictions required of a theory is highly respected. In
the context of non-pure sciences, writes Loughran (2009), “traditional disciplines (e.g.
history, science, philosophy) do not draw on other disciplines in order to pursue or define
their own subject matter and methods; these disciplines look to their own accumulated works
to define themselves or to guide scholars in the doing of the discipline” (p.193). Disciplines
like law, medicine, engineering are applied subjects, so also nursing, management, and
education. But, distinctively, education functions in a social context.
Tight (2020) quotes Krishnan’s (2009) work, besides others to examine if higher education
(or higher education studies) is a discipline (or a field of study). The six characteristics put
up by Krishnan (2009) include the following:
i) Particular object of research.
ii) Based on the object of research, have a body of accumulated specialist knowledge.
iii) Accumulated specialist knowledge is backed up by theories and concepts.
iv) Use of specific disciplinary terminologies or language.
v) Subjects research methods for the object of research.
vi) Subjects taught in colleges and universities with academic departments as also
professional associations.
Moreover, they should also have scholarly journals, specialized conferences and networks,
and the like. It boils down to examination of general body of knowledge, specialized
vocabulary, and validation of research and scholarship. It has been argued that higher
education deals with a series of intersecting fields (rather than being discrete); and that the
prominent fields of activity include research, academic development, disciplinary teaching,
and research. Therefore, it may be accepted as a field of study’ rather than a full discipline
by itself, though it deals with a body of specialized knowledge and has a clear object of
research. Basically, the methodologies are derived from the social sciences (though in some
cased like phenomenography, it has significantly contributed to methodologies). In so far as
higher education is concerned, Altbach (2014) would not consider this an academic discipline
(rather an interdisciplinary endeavour), and Tight (2020) concludes that “Higher education
studies is not… a discipline, but an interdisciplinary field of research” (p.426).
Consideration of education as a discipline started with the establishment of the Teachers
College, Columbia University (USA) in the second half of the nineteenth century. However,
a noted by Uljens (2001), education as a university discipline started with the creation of a
chair in Halle, Germany. Irrespective of the dateline, there exist considerable differences in
the understanding of education as a discipline across Anglo-American, German, French,
Greek, Nordic and allied traditions, though there is similarity in using various terms. For
example, the Greek Didaskein, meaning to teach or to educate or to be a teacher is spelt as
didaktik (German), didactikk (Nordic/Nowegian), and didactics (English). The English
tradition skews more towards curriculum (and instruction) rather than pedagogy per se, while
the other traditions are skewed more towards the foundation of teaching-learning, i.e
pedagogy. Further, there are distinctions between disciplines producing hard knowledge (i.e.
verifiable and definitive research findings and cumulative knowledge) and soft knowledge
(i.e. less reproducible and cumulative research findings), as much as there exists distinction
between disciplines producing pure knowledge like sciences (where knowledge is universal
and generalisable) and producing applied knowledge like education (where knowledge
focuses on practical issues and solving practical problems in social contexts).
Education as a discipline considerably centres around the understanding and practice of
‘pedagogy’. Though traditionally pedagogy has often been equated with or understood as
teaching, from a wider connotation, it is essentially the enmeshing of the relationship
between teaching and learning its understanding, recognition and development (Loughran,
2015). The author explains this in the context of ‘pedagogical content knowledge’, and
‘pedagogy of teacher education’. As such, pedagogy needs to be understood, beyond the
action of teaching, as the reinforced relationship between teaching and learning, which
contributes to understanding and growth of knowledge.
Teaching as a Discipline
With reference to teaching and teacher education as disciplines of study, Laughran and
Russell (2007) remarked that while teaching itself is a discipline, teacher education could be
considered as the home of that discipline, and self study and critical reflection are
foundations to making explicit the central character of teaching as a discipline. However, the
broader contours of teaching as facilitating learning, developing abilities of critical inquiry,
and inculcating a wider view of life and society/humanity get reduced to contemporary
globalization-oriented reductionist view of outcomes or products (of knowledge in-
practice), thereby considerably delimiting its scope to be considered as a discipline.
One needs to appreciate that teaching requires specialist knowledge and skills as in the case
of teachers and teacher educators. However, it is also problematic since it is difficult to
continuously maintain high levels of engagement in learning. Teaching as professionalism
(and teachers as professionals) involves as much theorization, research and pedagogic insight
as experiencing those in practice in-context (and which is rooted in the theoretical
understanding of that practice). Further, the practice provides the context to do research on
one’s experiences. This becomes easy but natural for teacher educators who usually deal
with pedagogy, and this is also equally essential for discipline or subject teachers who need to
reflect and research on their discipline pedagogy. This is considered as an essential
foundation to teacher as a reflective practitioner. For this reflective practice to happen (or,
in other words, for teaching to be effective), there should be congruence between teachers’
perception of teaching-learning and students’ perceptions of teaching/learning.
In this entire process, the crucial aspect is the consideration of teacher agency. Teacher as
agency may be understood in two different but integrated ways one, that tacit knowledge
about and the practice of teaching depends on individual teacher’s understanding of teaching,
and learning about teaching (besides the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies); and
two, that teacher is a socio-cultural agent, and therefore the teacher agency is argued by many
to be concerned with areas of autonomy, equity, inclusiveness and possible equality.
Therefore, in teacher education, these dual needs are to be addressed. Loughran (2008)
distinguishes between education/training leading to development of technical efficiency and
development of professional practice while both are essential, it has been rare to find that
teacher education programmes really understand this and ground the juxtaposition between
the two in the practice of teaching. Teachers fundamentally need to understand the interplay
between teaching and learning; and therefore for appreciating this, pedagogy is the most
essential aspect of the organization and delivery of teacher education.
The subject matter and the way that is taught constitute parts of pedagogy. Sharing and
articulating the knowledge of practice constitute the basis of teacher education. This relates
to what the teachers do, how they do it, and why they do what they do. The scholarly
tradition of teacher education expects sharing and critiquing the knowledge of practice which
any teacher education needs to do.
Teaching is a complex and scholarly activity (Boyer, 1990), and therefore it is important to
address that scholarship in order for teaching to have legitimate place in universities.
Loughran (2009) quotes the work of Qinlan (1994) to further exemplify and justify this. That
we need to consider: the aspects of teaching as scholarly (with research-based improvement
of those aspects); that the scholar-teacher connects the scholarly aspects to his/her discipline
teaching; only the scholar-teachers (not a separate-pedagogue or instructional designer) could
best define the scholarly aspect of teaching in that discipline. Certainly, scholarly teaching is
not a generic activity. Rather it is closely entangled with cognate discipline(s) involving
expert knowledge and skills as also understanding of specific ideas and issues, and the
complexities involved in that discipline. Therefore, understanding of the disciplinary aspects
of the practice assumes prime importance. This is where pedagogy and subject expertise need
to gel well.
Teaching as a scholarly practice involves knowledge of that practice which informs
pedagogic expertise. And mere development of teaching competencies as is conceived
through practice teaching or micro-teaching is very limited a view of that scholarship, which
needs to go beyond to develop deeper understanding of the value and excellence of that
Therefore, rather than arguing for a discipline of teaching, it is more important to argue the
case of scholarship of teaching. It emanates from the forgoing analysis that the debate on
teaching or teacher education as a discipline assumes lesser importance than articulation and
concomitant action on developing scholarship of teaching in teacher education. Writes
Loughran “Teacher education is teaching teaching; teacher education scholars must therefore
be expert pedagogues with sophisticated knowledge and skill of teaching teaching, which is
the central content of their discipline and their field of scholarly endeavour” (2009, p.199).
Indian Universities and Teacher Education
At the backdrop of the above discourse, the subsequent sections focus on the context of
universities and teacher education as obtained in India through an analysis of historical
developments, policy stipulations, university departments of education/teacher education, and
the issue of composite and stand-along teacher education institutions, and teacher education
Historical Developments
The traditional gurukula and madrasa-based teacher education gradually transformed in the
colonial era to the English tradition of a system of teacher education and schooling with
quantitative expansion, stage-specific training, and subject-specialised teacher training. With
the establishment of the Calcutta School Society in 1819 (and subsequently in Bombay and
Madras), English teacher education took shape to cater to the vernacular and anglo-
vernacular schools (NCTE, 1998), so also distinctive teacher education and schooling for
urban and rural areas, with emphasis given to the former (Mangal, 2020). Though initially
was a private initiative, teacher training was formalized with the establishment of government
‘normal schools’ for training of primary school teachers, following the recommendations of
the Wood’s Despatch of 1854. The normal schools had the dual objectives of training
teachers as also, through the study of subjects preparing graduates to enter higher education.
Subsequent demand for more schooling and more teachers led to the expansion of teacher
training to include normal schools, training institutions, training colleges, and university
departments of education.
The later stage of freedom struggle witnessed strong sentiments and revolts against the
English imposed system distorting Indian culture, value system, ancient wisdom and its rich
history science, mathematics and sculpture. There was also movement toward Gandhian
basic education, focusing on all-round development, work experience and nation building. A
movement toward a national system of education started, though it was not clear what that
national system should be; and the then significant articulations were shaping a base for
national education and teacher education. “With the emerging knowledge base of what could
be called ‘education’, a more theoretical study of it at the postgraduate level came to be
pursued as an M. Ed degree” though “pedagogic inputs were at the core of the training
programme” (NCTE, 1998, p.20). Post-independence, rapid expansions in both schooling and
teacher education took place.
By the time the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was being given
parliamentary approval as a statutory regulatory body, there were 633 teacher training
institutions in 1995, which subsequently increased to 2171 on 2000, to 13,867 on 2011 (GoI,
2012a) and about 18,339 in 2015 (NCTE, 2015).
In India, when the first M.Ed programme was initiated in 1943 at the Bombay University
(and subsequently the first Ph.D in education too), as also when the Calcutta University
started teaching ‘education’ as a subject in 1971 that discourses on education as a discipline
kicked off. There was establishment of MA (Education) programmes in the university
departments of education (starting with the proposed Dhaka university) for articulating and
researching education as a discipline, for enhancing the multidimensions of the broader field
of education and practices (including teacher professional development) and engaging with
other cognate disciplines especially from social sciences. Though CASE/MSU did not have
MA (Education), but the centre’s education professional contributed significantly toward
education as a discipline. Subsequently, distinct centres like Zakir Hussian Centre for
Educational Studies (JNU), Maulana Azad Centre for Elementary and Social Education
(DU), Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS, Mumbai) focused their research through the
lens of theories and methodologies of social sciences. In the sixties, experimental four-year
integrated teacher education was initiated at the campus college of education of Kurukshetra
University which successfully continued for long, and influenced NCERT to initiate such
integrated programmes.
The eighties in Indian teacher education saw a movement toward the experimentations,
models and methodologies as obtained in the United States dominance of behaviourist
model, taxonomy of objectives, micro-teaching, Flander’s interaction analysis and Bruce
Joyce model of teaching, though unlike the American model, there was less time spent on
practice teaching, and more stress was given to subjects than methods. There was clearly an
American influence. The then process of Indian teacher education is described by Joyce and
Showers (1985) that “the recitation method (called ‘chalk and talk’) dominates instruction in
teacher education just as it does in the schools, with the content in both cases tied tightly to
an unforgiving system of evaluation” (p.4). The behaviourist model including programmed
instruction and instructivist lesson planning was dominant. Further, since teacher’s salary
was low, not quality graduates entered the job of teaching too.
During the same period, the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) which was a
non-statutory/non-regulatory body had expressed serious concern relating to the imported
model, and underlined that: no competent person is entering teacher education institutions,
teacher education is isolated from academic life of universities, isolated from schools, and
isolated from the community in which the teachers have to serve. It also admitted that TE
was far away from the university system (i.e. the knowledge base) as well as the school
system (i.e. the practice base). It recommended that: “A drastic change in the entire system
of teacher education is overdue” (NCTE, 1978, p.3).
NCTE was given statutory authority in 1993 parliamentary approval to coordinate and
promote planned teacher education development, and its regulation and quality assurance.
For distance teacher education programmes, it entered MoU with DEC in 2001 and 2004; and
for maintaining quality of preservice teacher education MoU with NAAC was signed in 2002,
and renewed in 2015 to implement NCTE Regulation 2014 for each TEI to be accredited in
every five years.
Policy Discourses
The discourse on policies started with the initiation of schooling and teacher training by the
British in the colonial pre-independence period. The policy discourses pre-independence and
post-independence are summarized as follows (including highlights on the role of universities
in teacher education).
The first policy discourse was the report of the Indian Education Commission of 1882, with
emphasis on expanding TE to secondary school teachers covering early principles and
practice of teaching, and separate training for undergraduates and graduates. This led to
establishment of six training colleges, alongside 50 training schools. Subsequent to this, the
Government of India Resolution 1904 emphasised on one-year programme for college
graduates and two-year programme for non-graduates, attachment of practicing schools to
training college, and strong linkage between schools and training colleges.
The Calcutta University Commission (1917-19) had recommended for starting a university
education department, and education as an area/subject of study in IA, BA, and MA levels.
The Central Advisory Board of Education (1943) had accepted the Hartog Committee report
to have two-year teacher training for pre-primary and primary, three-year training for
elementary, and one-year (graduates) and two years (non-graduates) for secondary teacher
The first National Policy on Education was formulated in 1968 (based on the
recommendations of the Kothari Education Commission of 1964-66), though this was
preceded by two other commission--University Education Commission of 1948-49 and
Secondary Education Commission of 1952-53. The KEC is crucial since it emphasized
teacher education as a discipline for all teacher education programmes to be organized under
Comprehensive College of Education to connect theory with practice, teacher training with
school system, practice teaching with pedagogy, and for comprehensive and integrated
teacher professional development. The NPE-1968 reinforced the KEC, and emphasized on
moral and social values, development of scientific temper, and integration of teacher
education to culture and national development.
The 1986 National Policy on Education emphasized on decentralization of school education
and especially primary and elementary teacher education (both preservice and inservice), and
the District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) since 1989 have become the nodal
agency for both preservice and inservice teacher education at the district level. The District
Primary Education Programme was initiated to improve the quality of primary education
(though without much authority to intervene in DIETs) and subsequently got merged to Sarva
Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to universalize elementary education. Prior to 1986, the central
agency National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) was implementing
the primary/elementary teacher education through its provincial arm of a network of State
Councils for Educational Research and Training (SCERTs). The 1986 Policy-guided Central
Sponsored Schemes (CSS) intended to revamp the SCERTs at the state level, creation of
DIETs at the district level, and IASEs (Institutes of Advanced Study in Education) at the
university education department level. The DIETs were charged with training and orientation
of all functionaries associated with school and adult education (including preservice teacher
training), academic and resource support, and action research. DIETs had cluster resource
centres under their jurisdiction to implement teacher development at the school level.
Concerns have been expressed that there existed disconnect between preservice teacher
education and other DIET services, and between inservice teacher education and teacher
educators (Dyer, 2005).
The NPE-1986 recommended for statutory approval to NCTE, upgrading of SIEs into
SCERTs, establishment of DIETs and IASEs; and the subsequent Centrally Sponsored
Scheme, 1988 led to establishment of DIETs, and upgrading of select secondary teacher
education institutions into Colleges of Teacher Education (CTEs). By 2016, there were 588
DIETs, 32 SCERTs, 118 CTEs and 31 IASEs (Singh, 2017). These agencies were supposed
to connect TE theory, practice and research.
Keeping in view the then proliferation of private teacher education institutions in the country
and considerable reduction in quality and transparency, the apex Supreme Court of India
appointed the Justice Verma Commission (GoI, 2012) (under the chairmanship of the chief
justice of India) to recommend and oversee the implementation of far-reaching suggested
reforms in teacher education. This resulted in formulation (following wider national
consultation) of NCTE Regulations 2014 which legally implemented: extended duration of
teacher education to two years (with compulsory one-semester equivalent school internship
and community engagement), conversion of all stand-alone institutions into composite
institutions (either multidisciplinary degree colleges or multi-teacher education programmes),
curriculum reforms (with clear-cut integration of theory + practicum + internship),
introduction of national integrated teacher education (ITE) for secondary (BA/BScBEd) and
elementary (BElEd), introduction of a 3-year integrated teacher educator programme (BEd-
MEd) with separate MEd for primary-elementary and secondary-senior secondary, making
compulsory ICT-yog shiksha-gender education-inclusive education for all TE programmes,
and compulsory accreditation of each TEI (including university departments) once in every
five years. Model curricula, based on the CBCS of UGC, were formulated for all TE
programmes with indegenisation of content and innovative teaching-learning pedagogies and
strategies. These have since been implemented in the country.
By 2015, there were 967 TEIs for teacher educators (including 238 university departments of
education/teacher education) admitting 29,200 students that year. Through these regulatory
mechanisms, and with UGC-NCTE collaboration, Schools of Education were established in
11 newly created central universities, with multi-departments including teacher education,
curriculum and pedagogy, management and leadership, technology-enabled learning, special
education and inclusive education. The major focus of the new SoEs was to conduct
relevant, contextual and world-class research and development in the above areas. There was
also simultaneous establishment of Inter-University Centres for Teacher Education (IUCTE)
at Banaras Hindu University, M. S. University and RIE/ NCERT (Mysore) with the objective
of leading cutting-edge research on teacher knowledge and practice, and linking research to
professional knowledge and practice. Though the deliberations on creation of a central
university of teacher education (CUTE) could not take shape till date.
The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP-2020) suggested drastic changes in teacher
education organization and delivery, largely vindicating the NCTE Regulation 2014, with
structural changes, exclusive ITE by 2030, all universities to establish education department ,
subject plus attitude testing for entrance TE programmes, use of indigenous as also cutting-
age pedagogy, connecting teaching-field experience-research, multi disciplinary perspectives
and grounding in Indian ethos, values, language, knowledge and traditions. The major
suggested change includes converting all TE programmes into a four-year dual-degree
integrated teacher education (ITE) for all levels of teacher education. A four-year teacher
education separately for elementary and secondary level was suggested by the National
Commission on Teacher 1983-85. A sub-section below is devoted to discussion on ITE ad
stand-alone TEIs to decide its future course of action, including bringing all teacher education
under the broad umbrella of higher education.
In effecting the policy articulation and implementation, there had been involvement of
university education departments, great teacher educators and teacher education
association(s). Considerable changes have been marked post-1990s in the negligence of the
above and in significant inclusion of NGOs and activist organizations in matters of teachers
and teacher educators. It may be noted that engagement of NGOs and advocacy activists
with the government in significant access, equity and rights issues has resulted in many
reformative changes in education including the RTE-2009 (GoI, 2010). However, this has
not contributed in any visible way to effecting quality in TE knowledge and pedagogy,
structure and organization, and policy and praxis, though the governments mostly engage
such NGOs for evaluation of teaching effectiveness and school effectiveness. The reforms in
teacher education and development being ascribed to the efforts of NGOs and the Coalition
(Shetty, 2014) rather than emanating from UTDs/DoEs/TEIs is problematic in India. Even
policy making and policy evaluation is done mostly by involvement of NGOs.
In this context of policy control on teacher education vis-à-vis linking student performance to
teacher quality (as in the United States, exactly opposite to that of Finland), one of the
scholars of teacher education remarked: “While it is true that both professional accountability
through accreditation mechanisms and bureaucratic accountability through state programme-
approval policies have failed to close down or improve some weak programmes, the solution
to this situation… is to study and redesign the system, not destroy it” (Zeichner, 2014, p.557).
University and Teacher Education
There has been expansion of university level education/teacher education (departments,
numbering about 238), post-independence; so also secondary teacher education institutions
(BEd, N=8584) and teacher educator institutions (MEd, N=967), and elementary teacher
education (BElEd, N=1) affiliated to the University of Delhi. This also includes a few
advanced level CTEs and some of the IASEs. Besides offering TE programmes (BEd and
MEd), many universities have MA (Education) as study of education as a discipline/area of
study, as also research degree programmes (MPhil, PhD) by almost all of them.
The synergy or the connection between universities, teacher education institutions, and the
schools may be understood from the following developments.
i) In Indian teacher education, there are pockets of excellence or good practices in, for
Work on integrated teacher education, and on pedagogy and its application in teacher
education (e.g. CASE/MSU, RIEs/NCERT).
Work on field practice innovations (e.g. Azim Premji University).
Innovative experiences influencing teacher education: Hosangabad science education
(Bhopal), free progress system of education (Mirambika, Delhi), Anveshna
participatory teacher education (Vanasthali), and many more. However, teacher
education generally has not incorporated such innovative experiments on child
learning and schooling into its curriculum exercises.
ii) The governances of UTDs-DoEs-CoEs for secondary teacher education and teacher
educator programmes and SCERT-DIETs for primary and elementary teacher training,
are different and do not converge (except through regulatory mechanisms of norms and
iii) There are instances of opening up of BEd in DIETs in exceptional cases like the state of
Odisha (which does not have any private TEI) and which could be termed as ‘HE in TE’
(in place of ‘TE in HE’).
iv) The school teacher-teacher educator disconnect has been underlined well by Mathew and
Menon (2016): “schools are like factories where workers (teachers) have to produce, in
an assembly line, high scores for each student without which the school’s survival is in
jeopardy awarding scores/ grades has essentially been the prerogative of teacher
educators; schools-based mentors do not have a role in it although in some cases they
may assist in practice teaching” (p.160). Similarly, the school and teacher education
disconnect is even more evident when provincial school boards formulate school
curriculum and assessment without involvement of TEIs, in as much as the latter do not
involve the former in their curriculum and pedagogy design. Furthermore, schools
generally involve university faculty from their cognate disciplines for teacher
professional development, without involvement of any teacher educator pedagogy
v) There is a also disconnect between research, policy and practice. Write Mathew and
Menon (2016) “Any attempt at bringing greater coherence to the field of TE in India
must begin with building functional and dynamic linkages between research, policy and
practice” (p.165). There is also disconnect between research-evidence-practice which has
not been documented and critiqued.
vi) In the past decades, there have been considerable ideological influences on policy
formulation, so also advocacy and lobbying, done as much by university teacher
education professionals as by teacher education associations and activist NGOs.
vii) Though university education departments have been carrying out research (which is
much less in TEIs, DIETs, and schools), most of the research is faculty-oriented rather
than institutional and/or national policy-oriented (exceptions notwithstanding: e.g.
CASE/MSU, RIEs/NCERT among others), and are largely geared toward obtaining
performance scores toward career promotion.
viii) The initiation of correspondence education/distance education to clear the backlog of
untrained teachers has come a long way, starting with the Central Institute of Education
(the earlier version of the present department of education of University of Delhi) in
1966, through the four regional colleges of education (now regional institutes of
education) of NCERT in 1976, to many universities offering distance teacher education
(BEd) and SCERTs offering DElEd. The unregulated massification of distance teacher
education by a few universities in the 1990s, thereby reducing its quality considerably,
led to parliamentary statutory approval of NCTE to coordinate and regulate TE.
It may be deduced from the above that connection is needed between TEIs, DoEs, SoEs and
school/ classroom research. It is a common understanding among policy makers, faculty
form cognate disciplines, and the civil society that the quality of research has really gone
down. The early post-independence research, though was influenced heavily by behaviourist
models, had some connect with schools and classroom practices; the situation in the past two
decades with advocacy for constructivist learning and research has worsened the situation in
two aspects: i) the so-called constructivist formulations and research are largely guided by
western ideas and models as their base, with articulations on issues far away from the
pedagogy-subject-practice teaching connect, and ii) the majority of TE research today is
mixed up with a host of disconnected variables or areas of study within education without
formulation of any appropriate ‘conceptual framework’ and with weak mixed-methods
designs, resulting in recycling of research output and publications without much theory or
practice value. This may be ascribed to the simple fact that the quality of preparation of
teacher educators and the quality of research training are extremely poor. Unless this
situation is consciously improved, reforms in TE through indegenisation etc. as envisaged in
NEP-2020 may not provide much needed change and results.
While citing the wide gap between teacher education-schools-community vis-à-vis the state-
level SCERTs and the university-level IASEs, writes Panda (2021) “They were supposed to
create a hybrid of academic knowledge, school-based knowledge, and community-based
knowledge. This has remained problematic in as much as university teacher educators
remain, if at all, intellectual ghettoes, and that the practicing teachers have no concern in
engaging with scholarship and research in teacher education” (p.316).
The Justice Verma Commission 2012 (GoI, 2012), which formed the foundation to the
teacher education regulation NCTE Regulation 2014, had underlined that all of TE should be
part of higher education, and all TEIs to become composite institutions. The Regulation-
2014 had two provisions for TIEs to be composite those with multi-teacher education
programmes, and those converting to multidisciplinary colleges. Of the 15 TE programmes
that Regulation-2014 approved, nine were under university jurisdiction. Often, policy
makers, bureaucrats and some intellectuals cite the example of Finland: that all TE is under
university jurisdiction, and that to become a school teacher at any level (except pre-school)
post-school five-year masters degree is the minimum qualification. However, questions are
often raised: Are university teaching departments structurally and academically competent
enough to deal with all teacher education? Are non-university TE programmes not lacking in
quality due to isolation from universities? (For a candid discussion, see Mathew and Menon,
2016). Writes this author elsewhere (Panda, 2021) “Our national and decentralized
federal/provincial structure is such that pre-school, primary and elementary education, and
continuing professional development thereof are handled at the non-university education
councils and/or district-level training institutions where most of the teacher educators do
neither have higher qualifications nor experience commensurate with university level
standards. On the other hand, it is a fact that the university-level teacher educators have
rarely any appropriate qualifications and/or any experience in dealing with pre-school and
primary-elementary education/teacher education” (p.314).
The practice of teaching by itself is complex, problematic, as also dynamic (as it would also
depend on contexts); and, therefore, teacher educators need to educate teachers by creating
pedagogical opportunities and developing pedagogical reasoning, as noted earlier (Loughran
et al, 2016) which extend the understanding about teaching as ‘integrated’ across diversified
conceptions and practices. These pedagogic meaningful experiences, coupled with research-
based practice, form part of the larger agenda of professionalization (which the exclusive
school-based as well as the apprenticeship model of teaching may not be able to contribute
Further, universities have the freedom to consider the scholarship of teaching and what
Friedrich (2014) calls ‘uncertainty of contingency’ and discursive practices instead of
universal principles of learning and teaching, and to pin down the methods to structured
ordering of subject teaching. Teacher educators could engage in the reasoning of the
discipline through uncertainties in inquiry and student-teacher engagement. It is argued that
university departments of education/teacher education (DoE) are best places for such
articulation and practice. But, writes this author “What intrigues teacher education today is its
wide separation from the actual practice of discipline/subject teaching in-context” (Panda,
2021, p.315).
As had long been pointed out by Pring (1999) for universities to be at the forefront of
professional training and professional development of teachers/teacher-educators, “they need
to show how they contribute to the better practice of teaching than alternative ways of doing
it, how their research answers the professional and policy questions which teachers or
administrators ask, and how, whilst still making a distinctive contribution, they include
teachers in the thinking about education and in the training and professional development of
teachers” (pp.300-301). It may also be noted that in the name of early-entry alternatives in
the US, not only the college and university-based teacher education has been weakened, but
more importantly, the collegiality and autonomy of teachers and teacher educators have been
considerably eroded (Zeichner, 2014). Similar conceptualisation in Indian teacher education
may not facilitate the scenario either.
Integrated and Stand-Alone Teacher Education
Integrated teacher education (i.e. combining subject domain degree with teacher education
degree in one curricular programme of study) had been prevalent in only a limited scale in
some pockets, prior to Regulations-2014, especially through the NCTE route of innovative
programmes at RIEs/NCERT, University of Delhi and a few universities/institutions; so also
a two-year B.Ed programme. The number of stand-alone TEIs was estimated to be 15,300
(out of a total of 17,000 post-secondary stand-alone institutions-SAIs) by the NEP-2020.
Most of the stand-alone institutions were in the private sector (a total of 17,216 private TEIs
out of a total 18,389 TEIs in the country) (NCTE, 2015). Though a GIS system at NCTE had
indentified in 2015 about 6, 000 illegal SAIs, the NEP-2020 indentified 10,000 such low-
quality institutions to be closed down through rigorous scrutiny and legal processes. For the
first time, the NCET Regulations 2014 recognised three integrated TE programmes as
national programmes (going beyond the then innovations route) the 4-year BA/BScBEd
(secondary), the 4-year BElEd (elementary), and the 3-year BEd-MEd (teacher educator
programme); and, that on a regulatory invitation to convert to ITE, above 1,000 existing
institutions had done so, though for university education departments (which were already
multi-disciplinary) to convert to ITE was problematic. For stand-alone TEIs, it provided an
opportunity to achieve two goals at one go to become multi-disciplinary composite
institution with integrated teacher education, and to become a multidisciplinary degree
college. The NEP-2020 stipulates for the government/regulator to convert all TEIs to
composite institutions for integrated TE by 2030. It states: “all stand-alone TEIs will be
required to convert to multidisciplinary institutions by 2030, since they will have to offer the
4-year integrated teacher preparation programme” and “the 4-year integrated B.Ed offered by
such multidisciplinary HEI will, by 2030, become the minimal degree qualification for school
teachers” (p.42).
There are three trajectories visualized and are being debated in the organization of TE:
i) Those with subject expertise enter TE training programmes (primary-elementary and
secondary-senior secondary) and become teachers and teacher educators (which is
already the case).
ii) Those with subject expertise but without any grounding in TE claiming to enter
teaching and especially TE (which somehow has been the case).
iii) In-between, and of late, is a mixed model of integrating subject expertise and TE
pedagogy, post schooling, called ITE (integrated teacher education) which had
remained as rare innovative programmes but got regulatory legitimacy in the NCTE
Regulation-2014 as national programmes which forms the most viable structural,
organizational and pedagogical strategy in the NEP-2020 (which is a possible future
It may be underlined that any mix up of ii) with iii) under the garb of ‘integrated’ and
‘interdisciplinarity’ is construed by many as expediency and back-door entry (a major cause
for decline of quality in American TE and schooling). Borrowing and articulating in
sophisticated language and basing on critical discourses of social sciences (in education and
TE) is not going to contribute to any change either this has simply resulted in arm-chair
romanticized articulation. However, this in no way precludes interdisciplinarity in teacher
knowledge/teaching knowledge/pedagogy in TE as a profession, as an area of study, or as a
discipline if so accepted. In the recent past, contentious has been ‘teacher knowledge’ in
terms of both pre-service TE and in-service teacher development, and how it relates to
practice of teaching and research on teaching (i.e. knowledge in TE, and the practice of TE).
Over and above, those who are pleading for cognate disciplines without grounding in the
knowledge of TE to enter teaching and TE in the name of multi- and interdisciplinarity is a
matter of grave concern, and is construed as more ideological and political, rather than
Besides, while almost all university departments of education will find it organizationally
quite difficult to initiate or convert to ITE (while still running a 2-year BEd till 2030), most
TEIs will also find it neigh impossible to convert to ITE in want of prior requirement of
conversion of the institution into an undergraduate degree college. Quite a few may agree to
affiliate to a university as constituent college, most of them may not do so since those are
private institutions with private investment. The education departments of undergraduate
colleges (existing in a few states in the country) may seize the opportunity to initiate ITE in
collaboration with other departments of the college (and vice versa). The NCTE Regulation
2014 had provided for an experimental five-year time to see if the provision of ITE (i.e.
conversion to composite institutions) and accreditation in next five years works, though the
NEP-2020 has given an ultimatum of next ten years to do so. This needs to be worked out
very carefully.
Teacher Education Research
Teacher education professional knowledge and professional practice is inextricably related to
research on praxis. The best example is the Finnish system of ‘research-integrated’ teacher
education (Toom et al, 2010). Review of significant related literature suggests that teacher
knowledge is informed by a triad of: initial teacher training, reflection-on-practice, and
continuing professional development, including research and scholarship of teaching-
learning. Globally, university-based teacher educators are facing challenges both to
professionalism as well to production of academic knowledge. As Grossman (2008) puts it,
university-based teacher educators are losing jurisdiction over preparation of teachers and
teacher educators on the one hand, and research scholarship for the profession on the other.
The question arises: if the universities can better prepare/train teachers, and if so, to what
extent their research is related to the problems of teaching in the contexts of schools and
classrooms? Further: what is the congruence between the theoretical knowledge of teacher
educators and the tacit knowledge of teachers? Why not, therefore, the classroom teachers
get chance to conduct research on teaching and subject-pedagogy, as also why not teacher
educators engage in classroom teaching at different spells to better inform the appropriateness
and applicability of their research?
While the behaviourist micro-teaching and models of teaching (and research therein) may not
be dead and that more work was needed on synthesizing cognitive models and thought
processes of teachers (Macleod, 1987), what is intriguing is the obsession of teacher
educators in India with these traditional models, near-averse to changes in practices to new
learning models and designs and technology-enabled learning (TEL), and therefore lack of
research in changing learner needs and teacher preparation. This akin to what Lortie (1975)
describes as ‘apprenticeship of observation’ without engaging in the activity.
In a significant research review at the policy level in the United States (Wilson & Floden,
2003), eleven areas of teacher education research were underlined, which the contemporary
university research failed to address, and there existed gaps between current knowledge and
the research questions raised. Future research was intended to be geared toward addressing
effectiveness of teacher preparation, technology of research, interdisciplinarity vis-à-vis
content and pedagogy, cross-institutional studies, and mixed and multi-method design for
deeper understanding of the phenomena. Subsequent developments in and recognition to
researching the new scholarship of teacher education, Zeichner (1999) had cautioned against
the neo-colonial one-way communication of research findings from the industrialized
countries to the rest. A significant assertion by the international scholar-author to include
(and, for that matter, not to exclude) ‘voices of researchers in non-market areas’ (Zeichner,
1999, p.12) assumes significance even today when there has been increasing openness in
educational resources generation, resource sharing, and resource re-mix and re-use. There is
a need to strengthen the interlinkage in researches undertaken by in-house teacher educators
and those from cognate disciplines conducting research on teacher education, and relate this
to formulation of policies and regulations. It will be worth quoting the conclusion of Ken
Zeichner, the then Division K Vice-present of the American Educational Research
“If policymakers continue to disregard both the scholarship on teacher education,
and the perspectives of teacher educators in their formulation of regulations and
rules affecting teacher education programs, we will all suffer in the end of their
deficit, no matter how enlightened they think their vision may be” (1999, p.13).
The Indian teacher education, post-independence and especially in the eighties, was banking
more on the American behaviourist model and its pedagogic and methodological experiments
like interaction analysis, simulations, micro-teaching, programmed instruction, etc. (though a
few indigenous experiments were parallelly underway). Teacher educators were highly
influenced by those models as national models and therefore as national movements, and
most teacher educators were involved in researching those imported models; and therefore it
is not surprising that those got down to teacher education and teaching practices more
quickly. Early research studies focused on just the evaluation of innovations especially
imported from North America (without linkage to any indigenous models), so much so that
such research studies surpassed the gamut of research conducted in the exporter United
States. The entire country was skewed towards that. In contrast, today while many teacher
educators are stuck in that tradition, such skewed movement has not taken place in the past
decades in respect of constructivist and child-centred teaching-learning inspite of NCF-2005
and NCFTE-2009. Citing the examples of early research at two nationally-renowned
university departments of education (i.e. CASE/MSU and DoE/DU), Mathew and Menon
(2016) cite that, notwithstanding the initial CASE research focusing on ‘what research says
for classroom practice’, the research conducted was more ‘studies for education’ in
comparison to research by interdisciplinary departments of JNU and AUD as ‘studies of
education’, and that there is absence of research at universities relating to school practices.
There are also perception differences between research in education and research in teacher
education generally, the former is more valued than the latter. Questions have also been
raised on who could act as a researcher those with grounding/degree in education and
teacher education (may not necessarily represent high scholarship) or those with degrees in
cognate disciplines without any grounding in education/teacher education (may be a more
problematic formulation)?
Indian teacher education systems and institutions have in the past churned out massive
amount of research studies in the area of education, teacher education and schooling. Though
in this section we do not intend to provide a research review on teacher education, the
contemporary trend of research shows a few strands which need to be reflected further.
In respect of action research in DIETs, most of research is dictated by the nodal
SCERTs for DIETs to contexualise, rather than initiating and designing from the
ground reality, and therefore these researches have largely become routine.
There is absence of critical and contexual research at TEIs (both primary and
secondary), and the masters dissertations undertaken at most of the 900 plus teacher
educator institutions have not significantly contributed to policy and practice (and
quality) of teacher education and schooling.
Generally, teacher education research has not been able to contribute to change in the
substance, discourse, and modalities of teacher education. A recent review by Pandey
(2004) shows significant number of studies conducted at HE level relating to status,
effectiveness, practice teaching, skills, inservice education, and educational technology
(though it is rare to find studies on preservice TE). Suggested future research areas
included duration, content selection, pre-primary education, role expectation of
The future research should evolve from a tried dialogue between university professionals,
regional/ local TEIs, and school practitioners. It is worth considering the Finnish system of
research-integrated teacher education practices.
Concluding Remarks
The NEP-2020 and a renewed NCFTE should articulate the issues and concerns expressed in
this chapter, especially in respect of connecting university teacher education with TE
institutions, connect TE with schooling and classroom, and connect TE theory and practice
with research in-context. The malady of TE today could be substantially ascribed to two
reasons, besides others: i) over-bureaucratisation in decision-making across the entire chain
of organization and delivery of teacher education and research, and ii) mediocre scholarship
(including research skills) of teacher educators, exceptions notwithstanding.
It had earlier been underlined that “in the Finnish system, it is not the structure which matters.
What matters is professional commitment at the highest level, mentoring of professionally
competent senior teachers for student-teacher engagement and internship, and engagement in
real school teaching-learning contexts at a very professional and practical level of quality”
(Panda, 2021, p.320). Moreover, a competency-based teacher education necessarily requires
grounding in educational theory, teacher professionalism, teacher knowledge, and research on
theory-practice of teaching.
While reflecting on the direction of change within teacher education, Pring (1999) pointed
out that professional knowledge and understanding and development lies between two
strands--theoretical knowledge of foundational disciplines and practical contextual
knowledge. Professional learning and scholarship grow through a trajectory of diversified
critical discussion on theory-praxis, critical reflections, and self-understanding through
critical collegial grounding. Universities could provide this trajectory historically than any
alternative formulation. As we held the view, both tacit knowledge and critical scrutiny are
possible where both are upheld but in relation to its practical application in-context. We
should be very clear about the developmental distinction between teacher training (short-
term) and teacher professional learning (life-time). It will be an exaggeration and over
enthusiasm to locate (and expect to happen) the latter within the former.
Both ‘teacher as a technician’ and ‘teacher as a professional’ need to gel well into one
framework of TE and should be culturally grounded (Zeichner, 2014). Though neither the
university-based nor the school/provincial council-based teacher education in India practices
this, it is imperative that university and state level teacher educators need to work in tandem
with local school corporations/panchayats and local schools, conduct research based in
schools and classrooms, ground TE in culture and context, and organize phased practice-
teaching with support from state governments. On the other hand, it may not provide desired
results in teaching and research to have back-door entry of subject experts (without
grounding in TE) to full-time teacher education in the name of multi- and inter-disciplinarity.
Interdisciplinarity is very much possible to be cultivated within the existing integrated teacher
education. That, however, should not be construed as propelling the engagement and
leadership of subject pedagogues and experts in the design and practice of various
components of teacher education.
Some two decades back, Pring (1999) in the context of teacher education in Britain had
remarked (and which is equally applicable to TE in India as a conducting remark) that “If
universities are to remain significant players, then the value of their contribution can no
longer be taken as self-evident; they need to show how they contribute to the better practice
of teaching than alternative ways of doing it, how their research answers the professional and
policy questions which teachers or administrators ask, and how, whilst still making a
distinctive contribution, they include teachers in the thinking about education and in the
training and professional development of teachers” (pp.300-301).
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Santosh Panda, PhD, is a professor of distance education (and former director) at Staff Training &
Research Institute, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, and former
Chairperson, National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), Government of India. In the
past, he has been: Director (Policy & Research), Association of Indian Universities (AIU);
Founder Director, Inter-University Consortium, IGNOU; Director, Centre for Flexible
Learning, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji; a senior Fulbright Scholar, University of
New Mexico, USA. He is the chief editor of Scopus-indexed internationally refereed Journal
of Learning for Development (, published by the
Commonwealth of Learning, Canada. Email:
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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