Teaching out of Field: A German Perspective

13 April 2017
10am to 12pm
Deakin Downtown

Professor Günter Törner (The University of Duisburg-Essen) and Dr Raphaela Porsch (The University of Münster) explore relationships between teacher certification and teacher allocation in the latest in the REDI Seminar Series.

Event details

As in Australia, teaching out-of-field is endemic in German primary and secondary schools and a product of the structures of the school systems and teacher education programs.

However, in contrast to Australia where the issue has been well recognised and documented for some time, it is a taboo in Germany, with research only emerging in recent years.

Professor Günter Törner

Towards Out-of-Field Secondary Mathematics Teachers? Subject-Related Teacher Identity. 

In this qualitative-phenomenological study, we will address the phenomenon of out-of-field teaching in mathematics. With the aid of an identity theory and by means of a typological analysis, transcripts taken from episodic interviews with 21 teachers who teach mathematics in secondary schools without a formal qualification to do so are analysed. The gained typology comprises six types: The Active-Learning Insider, the Experienced Semi-Professional, the Subject-Affine Pragmatist, the Out-of-Field Pedagogue, the Passive-Indifferent Outsider and the Resigning-Concerned Outsider. In conclusion, it can be said that in-service teacher education should respect this heterogeneity. The school management is recommended to deal with the inevitable assignment of out-of-field teaching in a responsible way.

Dr Raphaela Porsch

Education for Specialists or Generalists? Initial Teacher Education of Primary School Teachers in Germany.

German primary school teachers normally teach the majority of subjects in one class, resulting in some subjects being taught out-of-field, as they usually have not been trained for all subjects. Research on the effects of teaching out-of-field suggests that it may be favourable for initial teacher education to cover all subjects that are to be taught at primary schools. Official documents on teacher education such as training regulations issued by the 16 German states were analysed, specifically focusing on the number of obligatory subjects that have to be studied in order to qualify as a primary school teacher. Based on these results, teacher education systems were either classified as a generalist, specialist, or a hybrid model. Only seven of the systems can be labelled as an education for generalists. Thus, these findings indicate that the teacher education in combination with the class teacher principle at primary schools can be identified as one potential reason for the situation of teaching out-of-field at elementary level.

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This is a free event, however registrations are essential.


Key information

Date / Time

13 April 2017
10am to 12pm


Deakin Downtown
Level 12, Tower 2
Collins Square
727 Collins Street

Contact details

Research for Educational Impact (REDI)
+ 613 9246 8185