TEACHING COORDINATION: A NEED, A REQUIREMENT AND A CHALLENGE IN THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA
This paper pinpoints the key role of coordination among the teaching staff as a key element in the development of competencies. These competencies become paramount when working with undergraduate students of Early Childhood Education and Primary Education degrees to ensure their professional skills.
In this sense, teacher-training syllabuses, designed following the principles of the European Higher Education area, were especially committed to the development of competencies. In order to acquire these competencies, it is required not only a new conception of methodologies and evaluation systems, but also the coordination of teachers as a particularly significant element.
Gallego, Redondo, Lorente and Benedito (2011) show that one of the keys to success for undergraduates training courses lies in teaching coordination as a way to overcome individualism. Besides, Zabalza (2003) states that it is not appropriate to talk about training projects, institutional functions or strategic plans without having planned adequate coordination mechanisms that promote basic lines of agreement among the teaching staff.
As a matter of fact, Torrego and Ruiz (2011) establish that pedagogical coordination mechanisms can be vertical, referring to those allowing following coordinated institutional guidelines whilst horizontal mechanisms are those whose target is based on achieving cooperation among teaching teams.
An innovative collaboration experience at SAFA University Centre:
SAFA University centre established as strategic objective the fostering of coordination, understood as an effective collaboration among the teaching staff. Vertical coordination mechanisms at the centre include: the syllabus monitoring board and the quality assurance board, both understood as main elements in the development of the syllabuses of Early Childhood and Primary Education degrees. In addition to this, there are also two boards promoting vertical collaboration, namely a pedagogical coordination board and some specific boards devoted to develop key syllabus issues along the academic year. Finally, there are some teaching teams contributing to horizontal coordination.
A coordination experience among subjects has been carried out in a group of students of the 4th year of the Degree in Primary Education. To do so, teachers have proposed a global project from the different areas where students have created the planning of this holistic project.
This experience evinces the collaboration of the teaching staff at the University Centre; in fact, it highlights the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the shift from curricular conception of content to competencies development.
Actually, coordination seems to be a necessary value that contributes to give some coherence to training programmes and has a decisive impact on the quality of training (Rué and Lodeiro, 2011). On the other hand, teacher coordination stands out as one of the most relevant quality indicators to foster the development of general and specific competences and, consequently, as a key element for the assessment of new teacher training syllabuses. In short, we can assert that there is an institutional responsibility in the promotion and creation of mechanisms for vertical and horizontal coordination. As a matter of fact, it seems paramount to strengthen agreements shared by the faculty in decision-making processes.