The Development of Teachers’ Professional Competence

  • Mareike Kunter
  • Thilo Kleickmann
  • Uta Klusmann
  • Dirk Richter
Part of the Mathematics Teacher Education book series (MTEN, volume 8)


This chapter offers a theoretical overview of the development of teachers’ professional competence. Drawing on the literature on teacher quality and teacher education, it discusses two diverging perspectives on the development of teachers’ professional knowledge and skills, namely, the “individual aptitude” approach and the “professional qualification” approach. It then presents a theoretical model that integrates various theoretical approaches that have been used to explain the emergence of interindividual differences in teacher competence. Based on empirical evidence, this model predicts that teachers’ professional competence develops through the active uptake of various learning opportunities and that individual characteristics influence the degree to which teachers utilize these learning opportunities. Moreover, the model assumes that the provision of learning opportunities is dependent on certain contextual variables, such as the education system or school-specific characteristics. This model of the determinants and consequences of professional competence provides a comprehensive theoretical framework for the empirical studies presented in the subsequent chapters.


  1. Aloe AM, Becker BJ (2009) Teacher verbal ability and school outcomes: where is the evidence? Educ Res 38(8):612–624. doi: 10.3102/0013189X09353939 Google Scholar
  2. Ashworth PD, Saxton J (1990) On “competence”. J Furth High Educ 14(2):3–25. doi: 10.1080/0309877900140201 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Austad CA (1972) Personality correlates of teacher performance in a micro-teaching laboratory. J Exp Educ 40(3):1–5Google Scholar
  4. Bakkenes I, Vermunt JD, Wubbels T (2010) Teacher learning in the context of educational innovation: learning activities and learning outcomes of experienced teachers. Learn Instr 20(6):533–548. doi: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2009.09.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ballou D, Podgursky M (1995) Recruiting smarter teachers. J Hum Resour 30(2):326–338. doi: 10.2307/146122 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumert J, Kunter M (2006) Stichwort: Professionelle Kompetenz von Lehrkräften [Teachers’ professional competence]. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft 9(4):469–520. doi: 10.1007/s11618-006-0165-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berliner DC (1992) The nature of expertise in teaching. In: Oser FK, Dick A, Patry J-L (eds) Effective and responsible teaching. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp 227–248Google Scholar
  8. Boyd D, Grossman P, Lankford H, Loeb S, Wyckoff J (2009) Teacher preparation and student achievement. Educ Eval Policy Anal 31(4):416–440. doi: 10.3102/0162373709353129 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bromme R (1997) Kompetenzen, Funktionen und unterrichtliches Handeln des Lehrers [Competencies, functions, and instructional practice of teachers]. In: Weinert FE (ed) Psychologie des Unterrichts und der Schule, vol 3. Hogrefe, Göttingen, pp 177–212Google Scholar
  10. Bromme R (2001) Teacher expertise. In: Smelser NJ, Baltes PB (eds) International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences, vol 23. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 15459–15465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brookhart SM, Freeman DJ (1992) Characteristics of entering teacher candidates. Rev Educ Res 62(1):37–60. doi: 10.3102/00346543062001037 Google Scholar
  12. Brouwer CN (2010) Determining long-term effects of teacher education. In: Peterson P, Baker E, McGaw B (eds) International encyclopedia of education. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 503–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brouwer CN, Korthagen F (2005) Can teacher education make a difference? Am Educ Res J 42(1):153–224. doi: 10.3102/00028312042001153 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Butler R (2007) Teachers’ achievement goal orientations and associations with teachers’ help-seeking: examination of a novel approach to teacher motivation. J Educ Psychol 99(2):241–252. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.99.2.241 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Christ O, van Dick R, Wagner U, Stellmacher J (2003) When teachers go the extra mile: foci of organisational identification as determinants of different forms of organisational citizenship behaviour among schoolteachers. Br J Educ Psychol 73(3):329–341. doi: 10.1348/000709903322275867 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cochran-Smith M, Zeichner KM (eds) (2005) Studying teacher education: the report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education. American Educational Research Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  17. Darling-Hammond L (2006) Powerful teacher education. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  18. Darling-Hammond L, Holtzman DJ, Gatlin SJ, Heilig VJ (2005) Does teacher preparation matter? Evidence about teacher certification, teach for America, and teacher effectiveness. Educ Policy Anal Arch 13(42):1–51Google Scholar
  19. Deci EL, Ryan RM (2000) The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychol Inq 11(4):227–268. doi: 10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Desimone LM (2009) Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educ Res 38(3):181–199. doi: 10.3102/0013189X08331140 Google Scholar
  21. Epstein RM, Hundert EM (2002) Defining and assessing professional competence. J Am Med Assoc 287(2):226–235. doi: 10.1001/jama.287.2.226 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eraut M (2004) Informal learning in the workplace. Stud Contin Educ 26(2):247–273. doi: 10.1080/158037042000225245 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Evelein F, Korthagen F, Brekelmans M (2008) Fulfilment of the basic psychological needs of student teachers during their first teaching experiences. Teach Teach Educ 24(5):1137–1148. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2007.09.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Feldon DF (2007) Cognitive load and classroom teaching: the double-edged sword of automaticity. Educ Psychol 42(3):123–137. doi: 10.1080/00461520701416173 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Firestone WA, Pennell JR (1993) Teacher commitment, working conditions, and differential incentive policies. Rev Educ Res 63(4):489–525. doi: 10.3102/00346543063004489 Google Scholar
  26. Floden RE, Buchmann M (1993) Between routines and anarchy: preparing teachers for uncertainty. Oxf Rev Educ 19(3):373–382. doi: 10.1080/0305498930190308 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Getzels JW, Jackson PW (1963) The teacher’s personality and characteristics. In: Gage NL (ed) Handbook of research on teaching. Rand McNally, Chicago, pp 506–582Google Scholar
  28. Goldstein LS, Lake VE (2000) “Love, love, and more love for children”: exploring preservice teachers’ understandings of caring. Teach Teach Educ 16(8):861–872. doi: 10.1016/S0742-051X(00)00031-7 DOI: 10.1016/S0742-051X%2800%2900031-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grönqvist E, Vlachos J (2008) One size fits it all? The effect of teacher cognitive and non-cognitive abilities on student achievement. Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  30. Halász G, Santiago P, Ekholm M, Matthews P, McKenzie P (2004) Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Country note: Germany. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.. Retrieved from
  31. Helmke A (2009) Unterrichtsqualität und Lehrerprofessionalität: Diagnose, Evaluation und Verbesserung des Unterrichts [Instructional quality and teacher professionality: diagnosis, evaluation, and enhancement of instruction]. Klett-Kallmeyer, SeelzeGoogle Scholar
  32. Helsing D (2007) Regarding uncertainty in teachers and teaching. Teach Teach Educ 23(8):1317–1333. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2006.06.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hoekstra A, Brekelmans M, Beijaard D, Korthagen F (2009) Experienced teachers’ informal learning: learning activities and changes in behavior and cognition. Teach Teach Educ 25(5):663–673. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2008.12.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kane MT (1992) The assessment of professional competence. Eval Health Prof 15(2):163–182. doi: 10.1177/016327879201500203 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kanfer R, Heggestad ED (1997) Motivational traits and skills: a person-centered approach to work motivation. Res Organ Behav 19:1–56Google Scholar
  36. Kennedy MM, Ahn S, Choi J (2008) The value added by teacher education. In: Cochran-Smith M, Feiman-Nemser S, McIntyre DJ, Demers KE (eds) Handbook of research on teacher education, 3rd edn. Routledge, New York, pp 1249–1273Google Scholar
  37. Kleickmann T, Hardy I, Jonen A, Blumberg E, Möller K (2007) Early science education: characteristics of learning environments fostering students’ conceptual understanding and teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. In: Prenzel M (ed) Studies on the educational quality of schools: the final report on the DFG priority programme. Waxmann, Münster, pp 137–156Google Scholar
  38. Klieme E, Hartig J, Rauch D (2008) The concept of competence in educational contexts. In: Hartig J, Klieme E, Leutner D (eds) Assessment of competencies in educational contexts. Hogrefe & Huber, Göttingen, pp 3–22Google Scholar
  39. Korthagen FAJ (2004) In search of the essence of a good teacher: towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teach Teach Educ 20:77–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kuncel NR, Hezlett SA, Ones DS (2004) Academic performance, career potential, creativity, and job performance: can one construct predict them all? J Pers Soc Psychol 86(1):148–161. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.86.1.148 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Latham GP, Pinder CC (2005) Work motivation theory and research at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Annu Rev Psychol 56:485–516. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142105 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lieberman A, Miller L (1992) Teachers: their world and their work. Teachers College Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Lin X, Schwartz DL, Hatano G (2005) Toward teachers’ adaptive metacognition. Educ Psychol 40(4):245–255. doi: 10.1207/s15326985ep4004_6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Maslach C, Jackson SE, Leiter MP (1996) Job burnout. Annu Rev Psychol 52:397–422. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Masten AS, Coatsworth JD (1998) The development of competence in favorable and unfavorable environments: lessons from research on successful children. Am Psychol 53(2):205–220. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.53.2.205 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mitchell TR (1997) Matching motivational strategies with organizational contexts. Res Organ Behav 19:57–149Google Scholar
  47. Oser FK, Baeriswyl FJ (2001) Choreographies of teaching: bridging instruction to learning. In: Richardson V (ed) Handbook of research on teaching, 4th edn. American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC, pp 1031–1065Google Scholar
  48. Oser FK, Achtenhagen F, Renold U (eds) (2006) Competence oriented teacher education: old research demands and new pathways. Sense Publishers, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  49. Pintrich PR, Schunk DH (1996) Motivation in education. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  50. Poropat AE (2009) A meta analysis of the five-factor model of personality and academic performance. Psychol Bull 135:322–338. doi: 10.1037/a0014996 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Richardson V (1996) The role of attitudes and beliefs in learning to teach. In: Sikula J, Buttery T, Guyton E (eds) Handbook of research on teacher education, 2nd edn. Macmillan, New York, pp 102–106Google Scholar
  52. Roberts BW, DelVecchio WF (2000) The rank-order consistency of personality traits from childhood to old age: a quantitative review of longitudinal studies. Psychol Bull 126(1):3–25. doi: 10.1037//0033-2909.126.1.3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Roelofs E, Sanders P (2007) Towards a framework for assessing teacher competence. Eur J Vocat Train 40(1):123–139Google Scholar
  54. Rushton S, Morgan J, Richard M (2007) Teacher’s Myers-Briggs personality profiles: identifying effective teacher personality traits. Teach Teach Educ 23(4):432–441. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2006.12.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sabers DS, Cushing KS, Berliner DC (1991) Differences among teachers in a task characterized by simultaneity, multidimensionality, and immediacy. Am Educ Res J 28(1):63–88. doi: 10.3102/00028312028001063 Google Scholar
  56. Scheerens J, Bosker RJ (1997) The foundations of educational effectiveness. Pergamon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  57. Scheerens J, Luyten H, Steen R, Luyten-de Thouars Y (2007) Review and meta-analysis of school and teaching effectiveness. Universiteit Twente, TwenteGoogle Scholar
  58. Schmidt WH, Tatto MT, Bankov K, Blömeke S, Cedillo T, Cogan L, … Schwille J (2007) The preparation gap: teacher education for middle school mathematics in six countries (MT21 report). MSU Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, East LansingGoogle Scholar
  59. Schön D (1983) The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. Temple Smith, LondonGoogle Scholar
  60. Schön D (1987) Educating the reflective practitioner. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  61. Semmer NK (1996) Individual differences, work stress and health. In: Schabracq MH, Cooper CL, Winnubst JAM (eds) Handbook of work and health psychology. Wiley, Chichester, pp 53–86Google Scholar
  62. Shulman LS (1987) Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harv Educ Rev 57(1):1–22Google Scholar
  63. Somech A, Drach-Zahavy A (2000) Understanding extra-role behavior in schools: the relationships between job satisfaction, sense of efficacy and teachers’ extra-role behavior. Teach Teach Educ 16(5–6):649–659. doi: 10.1016/S0742-051X(00)00012-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Stemler SE, Elliott JG, Grigorenko EL, Sternberg RJ (2006) There’s more to teaching than instruction: seven strategies for dealing with the practical side of teaching. Educ Stud 32(1):101–118. doi: 10.1080/03055690500416074 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sternberg RJ, Grigorenko EL (eds) (2003) The psychology of abilities, competencies, and expertise. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  66. Sternberg RJ, Horvath JA (1995) A prototype view of expert teaching. Educ Res 24(6):9–17Google Scholar
  67. Sutton RE, Wheatley KF (2003) Teachers’ emotions and teaching: a review of the literature and directions for future research. Educ Psychol Rev 15(4):327–358. doi: 10.1023/A:1026131715856 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tatto MT (2006) Education reform and the global regulation of teachers’ education, development and work: a cross-cultural analysis. Int J Educ Res 45(4–5):231–241. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2007.02.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tittle CK (2006) Assessment of teacher learning and development. In: Alexander PA, Winne PH (eds) Handbook of educational psychology, vol 41, 2nd edn. Erlbaum, Mahwah, pp 953–980Google Scholar
  70. Tynjälä P (2008) Perspectives into learning at the workplace. Educ Res Rev 3(2):130–154. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2007.12.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Vandenberghe R, Huberman AM (1999) Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: a sourcebook of international research and practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wayne AJ, Youngs P (2003) Teacher characteristics and student achievement gains: a review. Rev Educ Res 73(1):89–122. doi: 10.3102/00346543073001089 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Weinert FE (2001) A concept of competence: a conceptual clarification. In: Rychen DS, Salganik LH (eds) Defining and selecting key competencies. Hogrefe & Huber, Seattle, pp 45–65Google Scholar
  74. Yeh SS (2009) The cost-effectiveness of raising teacher quality. Educ Res Rev 4(3):220–232. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2008.06.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zeichner KM (2005) A research agenda for teacher education. In: Cochran-Smith M, Zeichner KM (eds) Studying teacher education: the AERA panel on research and teacher education. Erlbaum, Mahwah, pp 737–760Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Busine0ss Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mareike Kunter
    • 1
  • Thilo Kleickmann
    • 2
  • Uta Klusmann
    • 3
  • Dirk Richter
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Department of Educational ResearchLeibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN)KielGermany
  3. 3.IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics EducationKielGermany
  4. 4.Institute for Educational Quality ImprovementHumboldt University BerlinBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations