Paper 1 Finland: Looking for potential: How does student selection predict student teachers’ achievement?

Year: 2019

Author: Lähteenmäki, Marko, Mikkilä-Erdmann, Mirjamaija, Warinowski, Anu

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Recent developments in the societies, such as changes in the family structures, multiculturalism, and digitalization, present novel challenges to teacher education in many countries, like Finland, the context of the study. There is a global interest to develop a teacher education program to provide students with needed skills and competences in the 21st century, where teacher education as well as the teacher profession are seen as a continuum. A burning question is how do we select the most suitable candidates to secure good quality teachers in the future?

Many European as well other countries across the world have some selection system concerning teacher education programs. In Finland, teachers as university-degree holders belong to a group of highly valued professionals and the study program is very popular amongst applicants. Once applicants are selected, pre-service teachers complete a five-year Masters’ program; they are automatically qualified as teachers, with a license or certificate to teach. An increasing body of research has examined characteristics of teacher candidates, selection criteria as well dimensions of teacher competences needed in teachers’ work.

There is an ongoing pressure and need for a research-based development of selection methods, as well as standardised and valid criteria for selection processes for teacher education in Finland and other countries. Therefore, this study deals with the selection of classroom teacher students in Finland. First, we examine how high-level student teachers’ matriculation exams predict their study success during a five-year university degree program in classroom teacher education. Second, how does the entrance examination predict the candidates’ study success in classroom teacher education? Two study cohorts (2010 and 2013) were chosen from the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Turku (N=158). Our results indicate that there is evidence for a two-phase selection. Then, high-level matriculation exam and entrance exam scores predict high-level study success. However, future studies can identify different student profiles to develop research-based student selection in a cumulative way.