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Strengths and areas for improvement in initial teacher training in literacy in the Dominican Republic

This article focuses on the initial literacy training provided to students in the first stage of their undergraduate degree in primary education at higher education institutions in the Dominican Republic. It focuses on analysing the curriculum. The research was qualitative and sought to analyse: 1) how the training curriculum aligns with the research evidence; 2) the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum; and 3) the differences between the prescribed curriculum and what is actually applied in the classroom. Data were collected by mapping 25 courses, interviewing six teacher trainers and 12 trainee teachers at the three training sites, and conducting nine classroom observations.

The findings indicate that the curriculum aligns with the scientific literature on teaching initial literacy, although some areas were not analysed in depth (vocabulary, phonological awareness, decoding, and reading fluency). The strengths that were identified included clear requirements around the theoretical approach to teaching (constructivist) and initial literacy (cognitive and communicative), and opportunities for trainee teachers to practice in real-life settings. Weaknesses included differences between institutions in terms of the initial literacy training some teachers received, students’ lack of ability to evaluate learning, and the absence of a systematic consultation of the bibliography. Differences were found between the prescribed curriculum and how it was applied with regard to the weighting of theory versus practice, modelling, the approach to teaching initial literacy, and the selection, development and use of teaching materials.