How Can Teacher Education Help?

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




Though teacher educators believe their work is important, few people outside of teacher education value these programs. Faculty in other departments question the academic quality of these programs, teachers question their practical relevance. Here are a few of my contributions to these debates.

Sykes, G., Bird, T., & Kennedy, M. M. (2010). Teacher Education: Its problems and some prospects. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(5), 464-476.

Analysis of enduring issues confronting teacher education balanced by an examination of some of the alternatives often put forward as solutions

Kennedy, M. M. (2008) Contributions of Qualitative Research to Research on Teacher Qualifications. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(4), 344-367.

A literature review of studies relating teachers' educational background to the quality of their teaching practice.

Kennedy, M. M., S. Ahn and J. Choi (2008) The value added by teacher education. In M. Cochran-Smith, S. Feiman-Nemser, and J. McIntyre (Editors). Handbook of Research on Teacher Education: Enduring Issues in Changing Contexts. 3rd edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

A meta-analysis of research on teachers' educational backgrounds and the extent to which their college majors influence their effectiveness in raising student achievement.

Click here for a 2006 interview of Mary Kennedy by Michael Shaughnessy

Kennedy, M. M. (2001). Incentives for scholarship in education programs. In W. G. Tierney (ed).Faculty Work in Schools of Education: Rethinking Roles and Rewards for the Twenty-first Century. Buffalo: State University of New York Press.

Examines the values the drive higher education in general and those that drive education programs, with an eye toward outlining incentives that need to be promoted in education programs.

Kennedy, M. M. (1999). The role of preservice teacher education. In Darling-Hammond, L. and Sykes, G. Teaching as the Learning Profession: Handbook of Teaching and Policy (pages 54-86). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Reviews findings from the Teacher Education and Teacher Learning Study, a large-scale multi-year study conducted at Michigan State University between 1986 and 1991

Kennedy, M. M. (1999). Ed schools and the problem of knowledge. In J. Raths and A. McAninch (Eds). What counts as knowledge in teaching? (Pages 29-45). Stamford, CA: Ablex.

Addresses the widespread ambivalence about the value of preservice teacher-education programs. Examines two major arguments about the knowledge needed for teaching: that teaching is learned in the doing and that teaching requires the kind of formal knowledge universities offer.

Kennedy, M. M. (1998). Learning to Teach Writing: Does Teacher Education Make a Difference? Teachers College Press.

Describes the findings from the Teacher Education and Learning to Teach Study, which followed teacher candidates as they moved through a variety of programs preparing them teach either elementary school or secondary English. The book was published by Teachers College Press in 1997.

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View the Table of contents for this book

View the closing chapter

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Kennedy, M. M. (1997) Defining an Ideal Teacher Education Program. Paper prepared for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, March 1997.

Written to assist the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in revising its program standards. Examines reform documents to define an ideal teacher and then examine research on teacher learning to see what it tells us about learning these forms of teaching.

Kennedy, M. M. and Barnes, H. (1994). Implications of cognitive science for teacher education. In C. Collins and J. Margieri (Eds.), Creating powerful thinking in teachers and students (pp. 195-212). New York: Harcourt Brace.

An attempt to apply research on expertise to teaching, both to define what teaching expertise might look like and to define the kind of teacher preparation that would foster expertise.

Kennedy, M. M. (1990). Choosing a goal for professional education. In Houston, W. R., Haberman, M., and Sikula, J. (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education (pp. 813-825). New York: Macmillan.

Follows up on the paper listed just below, examing the conflict in all professional schools between giving practitioners all the knowledge they need, on one hand, and fostering the ability to make context-specific judgments on the other.

Kennedy, M. M. (1989) Inexact sciences: Professional education and the development of expertise. In E. Rothkopf (Ed). Review of Research in Education (vol 14, pp. 133-167). Washington DC: American Educational Research Association.

Reviews professional education literature across a variety of other professions, with an eye toward seeing what could be learned that might be useful in teacher education.

Kennedy, M. M. (1989). The knowledge base for beginning teachers. Maynard C. Reynolds, Editor. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(6) 53-57. [Book Review]

Book review of a book intended to lay out the professional knowledge base for teaching.