The Teacher Education and Learning to Teach Study

Research Questions

What is Involved in Teaching?
How can Teacher Education Help?
How Can Professional Development Help?
How Can Policy Help?
How Can Research Help?
How can we Improve Research?

Research Projects

Teacher Qualifications and the Quality of Teaching
Class Acts
Research and Teacher Learning
National Center for Research on Teacher Learning
Teacher Education and Learning to Teach
Local Uses of Evidence
Evaluations of Federal Programs


Michigan State University
College of Education
Graduate Program in Teacher Education
National Center for Research on Teacher Learning



The TELT study was the first study I conducted after arriving at MSU. It addressed the question of whether formal teacher education programs had any value in the formation of teachers. Even though virtually all states require teachers to participate in some sort of teacher education program prior to teaching, many people--including many teachers--are skeptical of the need for or benefits from teacher education. The Teacher Education and Learning to Teach (TELT) Study aimed to examine this complicated issue in two ways. First, we tried to conceptualize and examine the nature of knowledge that was uniquely relevant to teaching. Second, we tried to see whether or how college students who participated in teacher-education programs changed as they moved through these programs. Between 1986 and 1990, we conducted a longitudinal study of teaching candidates as they pursued their professional education. We followed over 700 teachers and teacher candidates who participated in eleven approaches to teacher education. Some programs provided inservice education while others provided preservice education. Some programs were alternative routes to teaching and others were college-based programs. Some were five year and some were four-year programs. In each case, we were interested in learning both what the programs were trying to teach teachers (and how they tried to teach it) and in what teachers learned from participating in these programs.

Students were typically identified at the beginning of their junior years, when they declared an intention to enroll in the teacher education program. At that time, we asked large samples of them to respond to a questionnaire, and we interviewed a smaller sample of them. We then returned to each institution repeatedly, re-interviewing students before they did their student teaching and again when they were ready to graduate. Students also completed the questionnaire at the time of their graduation. In addition, researchers observed a sampling of the courses these students took and interviewed program faculty and gathered official documents describing these programs.

The TELT study was a central effort of the National Center for Research on Teacher Learning (NCRTL), a U. S. Department of Education-sponsored research center, at the time I was directing the center. Over 30 researchers participated in it. Much of their work, and mine, is still available on the NCRTL web site.

Click here for a more complete description of the TELT Study