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Teacher Education in Malaysia

Teacher Education in Malaysia

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Published by Saufi bin Abdullah

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Published by: Saufi bin Abdullah on Jun 27, 2010
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Teacher Education in Malaysia:Some of the Major Challenges and Prospects
Rajendran NagappanNagendralingan Ratnavadivel, Othman LebarMaria Salih, Mohd Hassan AbdullahMohd Nasir Masran, Mohd Nazri Md Saad, Nor Azmi MostafaE-mail: nsrajendran@hotmail.com 
Abstract
Teacher Education programs are often put under test and arescrutinized to further enhance their effectiveness. The purpose of thisstudy was to investigate the current situation with regards to themodels, programs and curricula used in teacher education in Malaysia,the quality of current teachers, and the relationships between teacherquality and the models, programs and curricula used in teachereducation. This study utilized a mix of qualitative and quantitativemethods. Data for this research were collected through interviews,analysis of documents, and administration of survey questionnaires.Critical informants and supervising teachers were interviewed.Documents that contain information pertaining to Teacher Educationmodels, programs and curriculum from various establishments wereanalyzed. A total of 1525 respondents from four different targetgroups consisting of school administrators, supervising teachers,trainee teachers and students were selected at random as respondentsfor this study. Survey questionnaires were used as instruments tocollect data for this study. Qualitative data were analyzed usingqualitative methods, while quantitative data were analyzed using SPSSversion 12.0 and presented using descriptive and inferential statistics.The main findings of this study suggest that prospective teachers, theirstudents, school administrators and supervising teachers on the wholeseem to agree that the teacher education programs are effective inproducing quality teachers. However, there seems to be a concern in
teachers‟ readiness to manage co
-curriculum activities and to motivatestudents to learn. Qualitative data also revealed a number of challenges faced by teacher education in Malaysia. This paper will offerrecommendations to address these challenges in teacher education inMalaysia.This paper was presented at the International Council on Education forTeaching (ICET) World Assembly, Braga, Portugal, 14
17 Jluy 2008.Send comments to nsrajendran@hotmail.com 
 
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IntroductionNational Board of Professional Teaching Standards and National
Commission on Teaching and America‟s Future (NCTAF) call for greater
professionalization of the teaching profession through defining thekinds of knowledge and skills teachers should have in order to teacheffectively; the use of program accreditation to ensure that programsare indeed transmitting these skills and knowledge; and testing andcertification to ensure that teachers do possess these skills andknowledge (Kirby et al, 2006). This seems to be, yet another call,about a long-standing, but still relevant, issue by the stake-holders of teacher education.Teacher education programs have been under attack for
decades. They have been decried as “impractical and irrelevant” by
practitioners, and cited as the root cause of bad teaching andinadequate learning (Labaree, 2004; Cochran-Smith and Zeichner,2005). There have been similar criticisms about teacher education inMalaysia as well. Teacher education in Malaysia has undergonescrutiny from time to time. It is important that such a process iscarried out to ensure that teacher education remains relevant andaccountable to the demands of the society and nation. It seems to beeven more important now when there are new demands on teachereducation to produce teachers who would be able to meet thechallenges of globalization.In this context, this study attempted to identify majorcontemporary issues and challenges in teacher education in Malaysia.It is an on-going attempt to identify the major issues and also figuringout ways to address those issues to further enhance the quality of teacher education in Malaysia. Among other things, this study
‟ 
s focus
was the teacher education curriculum, prospective teachers‟ knowledge, skills and attitude, clients‟ perceptions about the
prospective teachers in terms or their knowledge, skills and attitude,and the appropriate teacher education model for Malaysia.This paper will address some of the major issues and challengeswhich emerged from analysis of the data collected. Discussion in thispaper will
be limited to issues concerning prospective teachers‟ 
knowledge, skills, attitude and teacher education curriculum.BackgroundThe importance of preparing teachers to exercise trustworthy judgment based on a strong base of knowledge is increasinglyimportant in contemporary society (Darling-Hammond & Bransford,
 
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2005). Education is increasingly important to the success of bothindividuals and nations, and growing evidence demonstrates that
 among all educational resources
 
teachers‟ abilities are especiallycrucial contributors to students‟ learning (Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kain,
2000).Not only do teachers need to be able to keep order and provideuseful information to students, they also need to be increasinglyeffective in enabling a diverse group of students to learn ever morecomplex material and to develop a wider range of skills. Whereas inprevious decades teachers were expected to prepare only a smallminority for the most ambitious intellectual work, they are nowexpected to prepare virtually all students for higher-order thinking andperformance skills which used to be reserved for only a few.To meet the expectations they now face, teachers need a newkind of preparation
 
one that enables them to go beyond “coveringthe curriculum” to actually enable learning for students who learn in
very different ways. Programs that prepare teachers need to consider
the demands of today‟s schools in con
cert with the growing knowledgebase about learning and teaching if they are to support teachers inmeeting these expectations (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005).The question is whether teacher education models andcurriculum in Malaysia have responded adequately to the changingdemands on teachers brought about by the changing nature of schooling and acquisition of knowledge and skills. The answers forthese questions maybe both yes and no. For example, Ratnavadivel(1999) found that teacher education curriculum in Malaysia hasconsistently responded and kept at breast with the global demands.On the other hand, teacher education has not responded adequately toincorporate the teaching of new knowledge and skills to prospectiveteachers, as in the case of preparing prospective teachers to teachhigher-order thinking skills (Rajendran, 2004) and teaching studentsfrom multicultural backgrounds (Nagappan, Rajendran, 2005).MethodologyData for this study were collected using both quantitative andqualitative methods. A total of four types of survey questionnaireswere used to gather data from prospective teachers who are currentlyenrolled in teacher education programs in 8 different institutions,mentor teachers, students in schools, and school administrators. Thenumber of survey questionnaires sent out and received are shown inTable 1 below.

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