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Miquel Martínez: “The Program of Improvement and Innovation in Teacher Training is a country-scale project”

Miquel Martínez Martín.

Miquel Martínez Martín.

Foto de grup dels signants del conveni per impulsar el Programa de millora i innovació en la formació de mestres.

Foto de grup dels signants del conveni per impulsar el Programa de millora i innovació en la formació de mestres.

02/12/2014

Entrevistes

Professor Miquel Martínez has coordinated the Inter-University Council of Catalonia (CIC) for one year. The Council, which aims at improving future teachers’ training, is composed by sixteen representatives of Catalan universities, two of the Catalan Ministry of Education and two of the Secretariat for Universities and Research. The Council set up the Program of Improvement and Innovation in Teacher Training and is in charge of monitoring and evaluating it.

Miquel Martínez Martín is professor of Theory of Education and member of the Consolidated Research Group on Moral Education (GREM) of the University of Barcelona (UB). He was dean of the Faculty of Education, director of the Institute of Education Sciences and vice-rector for Teaching and Students of the UB. Some of the aspects that centre his teaching and research activity are ethical learning, axiology and education in values and citizenship, as well as education politics and prospective. He has been visiting lecturer at different universities and he collaborates as a consultant at national and international education organizations and institutions. He is member of the Research Assessment Commission of the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU). In 2013 and 2011, he co-directed the publication L’estat de l’educació a Catalunya of the Jaume Bofill Foundation. Moreover, this year he co-directed the scientific committee of the International Congress of Educating Cities that took place in November in Barcelona.

 

What is the main objective of the program and its main intended actions?

Its main objective is to stimulate the degrees in Early Childhood Education, Primary Education and the double degree, which was recently created, in order to provide future teachers with competences centred on leadership, teamwork, the ability to transfer knowledge, skills to communicate with students and families, assessment, reflexive practice and research, as well as student-centred methodologies, like project-based learning. Its actions are based on three main pillars: the requirements to study education degrees, the training model and the access to the public service.

 

Regarding entrance requirements, the first measure adopted was to reduce the number of places offered and to create the double degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education. What other measures have been taken?

Students interested in studying at the faculties of Education must take an aptitude test. It was approved by the Inter-University Council in February 2014 and it was first applied last June. All universities, public and private, have used it. Students must get a minimum average mark of 5 in Catalan and Spanish and their results in both subjects cannot be lower than 4. This may not seem important, but it was a difficulty for some students who did not get to study Education degrees. When students finish upper secondary, their language skills are not as successful as it is expected. The students who have studied a high level vocational training course and do not take university entrance examinations must pass Catalan and Spanish exams, before being able to study Education at the university.

 

It seems that these first measures are successful. All universities agree that students’ skills are better than in previous years. Will these measures be preserved next course?

Yes. In the academic year 2015-2016, the test will be done again. Moreover, from the academic year 2016-2017, students will take also a test composed by a series of exercises to prove their mathematical and scientific communicative abilities, and their linguistic skills to write a text on a previously agreed topic. However, this new test has not been approved by the CIC yet.

 

Let’s move to another pillar: the training model. There are several research groups working on this aspect. In addition, the grants of the programme to fund research and innovation in improving the initial training of teachers (ARMIF 2014) have been already conferred.

That’s right. There was a call of grants to fund the research developed by members of faculties’ teaching staff and teachers at schools and high schools which aims at developing innovative actions to improve the initial training of teachers. Out of fifty-three applications, forty-one grants, a total of 480,000 euros, have been conferred. Groups must develop their research projects during this academic year. In the case of those projects focused on the training model of the double degree, they can be developed until December 2016. All the projects are centred on improving teachers’ training model.

Moreover, some mobility grants were called in May, but they have not been conferred yet. They fund 2-4 week international stays. Thirty-one applications to make stays in Great Britain, Canada, United States, Finland, Switzerland, Chile, Australia, etc. were submitted. Around fifteen will be given. Now, they are under assessment. Some of the criteria are: length, host centre’s quality, hoped results and outcome. In this case, universities’ deans determine priorities among candidates.

 

What about the third pillar, the access to the public service? Are there clear objectives too?

Basically, we are working on a clarification of the criteria to access the public service. This is a key aspect. If public service entrance examinations and job bank access suit better teacher’s competences and were not established only by considering questions such as seniority, it would be much easier for faculties to establish which specialities are needed. It is crucial to know the needs of the system in order to better adjust universities’ training proposals and guide students to choose a speciality.

In this sense, two things have been asked to the Catalan Ministry of Education: first, a prospective study of teachers’ demographical evolution and, second, an analysis of schools’ teaching needs for the next 20 years. These two things will indicate us how many primary and secondary teachers will be needed until 2030 and help us to identify the professional profile that must be trained, in order words, the specialties, postgraduate courses and lifelong training that should be offered. A well trained teacher must be a good general teacher but he or she must also be expert in a certain aspect. In my opinion, it is difficult to attain a specialization with the small amount of credits that are now needed to get it. Specializations must include at least 60 credits, a fourth part of the total amount.

 

Do you think that the implementation of the programme will really be beneficial in the medium and long term?

Yes, absolutely. Representatives of all public and private Catalan universities are working together in order to get it. The Program of Improvement and Innovation in Teacher Training is a country-scale project. The CIC and the Catalan ministries of Education and Economy and Knowledge proposed the creation of the programme. So it is a transversal programme that gathers training centres and the institution that employs the highest number of teachers. The programme means much more than changes in the curriculum. It revises training requirements to access the studies, it will establish common criteria to be applied by all universities, and it is analysing present training thanks to the work developed by research groups, which gather members of universities’ teaching staff and teachers at public and state-assisted education centres. To be exact, these groups are analysing the practicum, the development of the double degree in Early Childhood and Primary Education, the integration of English in training, the strong and weak points of recent graduates, and the training model.

We know that the countries that excel in education are those which have good teachers and trust the value of education and teachers. Therefore, besides improving teachers’ training, the programme also aims at improving the social recognition of teachers in our country because they play a key role in the present society of knowledge economics.

 

 

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