Step Up’s design and implementation is underpinned by two complementary frameworks that acknowledge and actively address current teacher development pathways and the complex systemic contexts within which teacher education occurs:


Teacher Development Continuum

To achieve project coherence, Step Up adopted the SMTI framework. This framework is underpinned by teacher development as a continuum, spanning from early learning through to retirement, as pre-service teacher development needs to be conceived as part of an extended process that commences well before formal teacher training and extends until retirement1.

The SMTI framework has five core components:

  • Leadership, policy and infrastructure;
  • Recruitment, selection and admission;
  • Content, pedagogy and clinical practice;
  • Beginning teacher support; and
  • Teacher and school development.

The critical design features permeating the SMTI framework centre on the idea that, “Teacher preparation is an all-campus responsibility; it is clinically based, requiring close links with P-12 schools; and it must be focused on reliably preparing beginning teachers that can positively impact student achievement”.

Step Up situates its objectives, outcomes and deliverables within the context of this continuum, embedding these core components to form its step change aspirations.

Action learning based project design

The design of the Step Up project was underpinned by an action learning approach. Action learning can facilitate the development of new understandings by allowing team members to engage in collaborative reflection on their experiences to solve real-life, situated problems (Coghlan, 2012). Garratt (2012) overviews four key elements of the action learning approach:

  1. A crucial institutional problem;
  2. Stakeholders willing to take risks to develop themselves and their institution;
  3. Authority to take action on the problem; and
  4. A system for learning reflectively.

In line with Step Up’s aim to transform pre-service secondary mathematics and science teacher education, the project followed the action learning approach, shown , to implement educational reform. The Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teaching programme did not identify a single institutional problem, but rather a complex and multifaceted challenge based around the notion of combining content and pedagogy so that mathematics and science are taught more like they are practised. The action learning approach allowed this challenge to be addressed through ongoing cross-disciplinary collaboration, where the facilitation of reflection leading to action was key.

action learning

Step Up project members engaged in rigorous and collaborative reflection in formal settings (e.g., during project intensives where it was a guided reflective process) and informal settings (e.g., as the collaborative action projects developed) to address the challenges involved in achieving project objectives. This collaborative reflection contributed towards the development of shared priorities across faculties and institutions over the life of the project.

The Model Approaches were designed in stages, with each stage informing the next. This was a purposeful move by the project leader to build social capital, identify and support champions for change within the project team and build systemic change. This also gave due consideration to local processes, systems and structures for leveraging change.



Coble, C.R. (2012). Developing the Analytical Framework: Assessing innovation and quality design in Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation. Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative. Association for Public and Land-grant Universities. Co-founder & Partner the Third Mile Group & Teacher Preparation Analytics.

Coghlan, D. (2012). Practical knowing: The philosophy and methodology of action learning research (pp. 357-368). In M. Pedler (Ed.) Action learning in practice (4th ed.). New York: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315565521

Garratt, B. (2012). The power of action learning (pp. 21-34). In M. Pedler (Ed.) Action learning in practice (4th ed.). New York: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315565521