Examining professional learning and the preparation of professionally competent teachers in initial teacher education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The relative contributions of higher education and schools, and hence the conceptual and practical aspects of ITE, to student teachers’ professional learning have been an issue of concern in teacher education. This article reports a mixed-methods study showing the relationship between student teachers’ engagement with the practical and conceptual aspects of a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Programme in Hong Kong and different facets of their perceived professional competence. One hundred and thirty-two student teachers participated in the quantitative survey of whom seven were interviewed. The findings reveal that experiences associated with learning the pragmatic facets of professional practice were more valued by student teachers compared to learning the conceptual aspects of ITE. Yet, in terms of relationship with professional competence, student teachers’ engagement with the practical aspects of ITE was related to competence in classroom teaching, whereas their engagement with the conceptual aspects contributed to their mastery of professional knowledge, competence in classroom teaching and competence in interacting with stakeholders. The study illuminates the distinctive contributions of schools and higher education in ITE. While acknowledging the important role of schools in providing a setting for practical work, this study affirms the distinctive contribution of higher education in equipping student teachers with practical and conceptual tools in the preparation of professionally competent teachers. Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-69
JournalTeachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice
Issue number1
Early online dateApr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


student teacher
Professional Learning
Initial Teacher Education
Hong Kong


Tang, S. Y. F., Wong, A. K. Y., & Cheng, M. M. H. (2016). Examining professional learning and the preparation of professionally competent teachers in initial teacher education. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 22(1), 54-69.


  • Initial teacher education
  • Student teachers
  • Professional learning
  • Professional competence