Unfortunately, the use of action research as a model of sustained teacher learning is hampered by lack of time and other resources. Teachers in the United States are generally not provided with paid time for such professional activities as action research. To provide that time would require financial resources that are not available to most school districts. As a result, teachers either engage in action research on their own time, as part of credit-bearing courses, or as part of separately funded projects. Typically, when the course is over or when the project ends, teachers’ formal action research ends. While teachers have claimed that they have incorporated action research into their practice in an informal manner, there is little research that has examined what that means.
The sustainability of action research is also hampered by the difference between practitioner research and academic research. If academicians are to encourage teachers to do action research, they need to have models that fit the temporal flow of school teaching (Feldman and Atkin, 1995) and rely on forms of validity that are appropriate to research in the practical domain (Feldman, 1994; Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1993).
Preservice programs that prepare new teachers will play an especially important role during the next few decades (Darling-Hammond, 1997:162):
The United States will need to hire 2 million teachers over the next decade to meet the demands of rapidly rising enrollments, growing retirements, and attrition that can reach 30% for beginning teachers in their initial years…. [All] will need to be prepared to teach an increasingly diverse group of learners to ever-higher standards of academic achievement.
Most of the nation’s new teachers will come from teacher education programs that have considerable structural variation. First, teacher education can be an undergraduate major or a program that is in addition to an academic major. Second, there can be an expectation that the program can be completed within the traditional 4 years of undergraduate study or that it is a 5-year or masters degree program as advocated by the Holmes Group (1986). Third, programs for initial teacher preparation can be university or college based or located primarily in the field. Finally, programs can differ as to whether they are primarily academic programs or whether their main purpose is certification or licensing.
While programs can vary in these ways, they tend to have several components in common: some subject-matter preparation, usually liberal arts or general education for prospective elementary teachers and subject-matter concentration for prospective secondary teachers; a series of foundational courses, such as philosophy, sociology, history, psychology of education;