Thursday, March 24, 2016
NCTQ report’s broad claims of inadequate textbooks and syllabi are not well supported
A recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) makes broad claims about teacher education based on a limited analysis of textbooks and syllabi and on a limited source about what should be included in those materials. The report, Learning about Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know, uses this analysis to argue that teacher education materials are a waste of funds.
P.L. Thomas, Professor of Education at Furman University, and Christian Z. Goering, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at University of Arkansas, reviewed the report Learning about Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.
The report contends that inadequacies in teacher education materials, specifically educational psychology and methods textbooks, result in ill-prepared teacher candidates lacking in “research-proven instructional strategies.” It offers recommendations for textbook publishers, teacher education programs, and state departments of education.
Professors Thomas and Goering’s review concludes however, that NCTQ’s report is not grounded in a comprehensive examination of the literature on teaching methods, and the evaluative criteria it employs in selecting programs, textbooks, and syllabi do not hold up to scrutiny. NCTQ’s report takes on an interesting question but falls short because it uses a narrow set of criteria and applies it in a misleading and superficial way.
The single source the report relies on to justify its “six essential strategies” provides limited support for NCTQ’s claims. The strategy itself is overly simplistic, and the report’s primary source—which itself is based on a narrow set of research studies—concludes, with only one exception, that the evidence supporting each of the six strategies is only moderate or weak. Limiting the analysis to one incomplete source that provides such limited support renders the report of little value for improving teacher preparation, selecting textbooks, or guiding educational policy.