ISSN: 2013-2255

The importance of teacher training from a metacompetential course proposal based on cultural and artistic competence: case study at the University of Barcelona

Andrés Torres-Carceller a

Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

Júlia Castell-Villanueva

Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

Ana Portela-Fontán

Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

Almudena Martín-Martínez

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.

a Corresponding author: Facultat d’Educació, Universitat de Barcelona, Campus Mundet, Edifici Llevant, 1a planta, despatx 101, Pg. de la Vall d’Hebron, 171, 08035 Barcelona, Spain.

Research article. Received: 07/07/2022. Revised: 28/09/2022. Accepted: 05/10/2022. Advanced pub.: 16/11/2022. Published: 02/01/2023.


INTRODUCTION. In an outstandingly visual and hyperconnected society, cultural and artistic competence training for soon-to-be teachers should be coherent with the social transformations taking place in the environment conditioning them. To implement the training properly, we believe it is necessary to assess whether or not current study programmes for soon-to-be teachers meet this challenge and connect with the professional world they will encounter.

METHOD. With the aim of analysing, comparing and reflecting on the way in which cultural and artistic competence is addressed in the teaching plans for double degrees in teaching, an analytical, exploratory and descriptive study was designed; to achieve this, documentary research on teaching plans was carried out, together with focus groups and questionnaires.

RESULTS. The results show how the subjects designed to develop this competence are insufficient in the opinion of all members.

DISCUSSION. We identified a need to agree on terms to facilitate an understanding of the cultural and artistic competence in the education process, since it is not explicitly included in course proposals, which makes it difficult to raise awareness about its importance.


artistic education, teaching competence, cultural awareness and expression competence, cultural and artistic competence, competence assessment.

Recommended reference

Torres-Carceller, A., Castell-Villanueva, J., Portela-Fontán, A., & Martín-Martínez, A. (2023). The importance of teacher training from a metacompetential course proposal based on cultural and artistic competence: case study at the University of Barcelona. REIRE Revista d’Innovació i Recerca en Educació, 16(1), 1-18.


© 2023 The authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. To view a copy of this license, visit



Títol (català)

La importància de la formació docent des d’un pla metacompetencial basat en la competència cultural i artística: estudi de cas a la Universitat de Barcelona


INTRODUCCIÓ. En una societat eminentment visual i hiperconnectada, la formació competencial artística i cultural dels futurs mestres hauria de ser coherent amb la transformació social de l’entorn que els condiciona. Per a una correcta implementació formativa, creiem necessari avaluar si els actuals estudis de mestre tenen en compte aquest repte i sintonitzen amb el món professional que hauran d’encarar.

MÈTODE. Amb l’objectiu d’analitzar i comparar el tractament de la competència cultural i artística en els plans docents de la doble titulació del grau de mestre, i reflexionar-hi, es va dissenyar un estudi analiticoexploratori de caràcter descriptiu, dins el qual es va dur a terme una recerca documental dels plans docents, amb grups focals i qüestionaris.

RESULTATS. Els resultats indiquen que la presència d’assignatures on es desenvolupa aquesta competència és percebuda com a insuficient per part de tots els actors.

DISCUSSIÓ. Detectem la necessitat de consensuar uns termes que en facilitin la comprensió dins el procés educatiu, ja que no està explícitament recollida en els plans docents i això dificulta prendre consciència de la importància que té.

Paraules clau

educació artística, competència docent, competència en consciència i expressió cultural, competència cultural i artística, avaluació competencial

Título (castellano)

La importancia de la formación docente desde un plan metacompentencial basado en la competencia cultural y artística: estudio de caso en la Universitat de Barcelona


INTRODUCCIÓN. En una sociedad eminentemente visual e hiperconectada, la formación competencial artística y cultural de los futuros maestros debería ser coherente con la transformación social del entorno que los condiciona. Para una correcta implementación formativa, creemos necesario evaluar si los actuales estudios de maestro atienden a este reto y sintonizan con el mundo profesional al que deberán enfrentarse.

MÉTODO. Con el objetivo de analizar, comparar y reflexionar sobre el tratamiento de la competencia cultural y artística en los planes docentes de la doble titulación del grado de maestro, se diseñó un estudio analítico-exploratorio de carácter descriptivo, llevando a cabo una investigación documental de los planes docentes, junto con grupos focales y cuestionarios.

RESULTADOS. Identificamos que la presencia de asignaturas donde se desarrolla esta competencia es percibida como insuficiente por parte de todos los actores.

DISCUSIÓN. Detectamos la necesidad de consensuar términos que faciliten su comprensión en el proceso educativo, ya que no aparece explícitamente recogida en los planes docentes, dificultando una concienciación en torno a su importancia.

Palabras clave

educación artística, competencia docente, competencia en conciencia y expresión cultural, competencia cultural y artística, evaluación competencial


1. Introduction

In an educational context that prioritises a more useful and practical view of knowledge and in a prominently visual society where images have acquired undeniable relevance (Triacca, 2021), competence building has been presented as an increasingly important value in recent decades (Schultes et al., 2021). The practicality of our day-to-day lives leads us to use cultural and artistic practices in a virtually spontaneous manner, without any deep reflection, and they govern our desires and interests (Bordón, 2021). The current communicative and expressive value of visual language in our society requires a full awareness so that its maximum teaching potential is developed in an effective manner (Sless, 2019); thus, to change these unconscious social dynamics, we believe it is necessary to carry out a critical review of teacher training in our universities.

Teacher training should respond to real needs and highlight the importance of cultural and artistic competence, thereby enabling direct openness towards innovation, creativity and social transformation. Thus, we sought to find out whether the competences in the curricula of the bachelor’s degrees in Childhood Education and Primary Education, as well as the double bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education and Primary Education (hereinafter, double bachelor’s degree in education) taught by the Faculty of Education at the Universitat de Barcelona (hereinafter, UB) connect with these needs and with the reality of the professional world they will encounter as teachers.

Teachers must possess the same key competences that are defined as learning objectives for students, but it is also essential that they develop interpersonal, social and leadership skills, as well as a high capacity for adaptation and critical and creative thinking. It is therefore necessary to approach teacher training from a meta-competence perspective, which makes it possible to effectively incorporate the complicated set of knowledge that must be interrelated: disciplinary content and teaching (Torres & Castell, 2019). Meta-competences are made up of knowledge and skills from different competences, linked to the discipline and with the specific skills of that profession; they incorporate skills developed in professional practice, everything learned from the resolution of certain problems and work dynamics (Karashash et al., 2022).

For Reguant (2013), meta-competences are competences that enable individuals to continuously adapt and that facilitate constant learning from both a cognitive point of view, because they allow one to assimilate and reorganise thoughts, and an emotional point of view, since they trigger motivation to learn.

The education system seems to insist on maintaining the idea of the generalist teacher, which is why an interdisciplinary approach that includes education by competences is needed (Skilbeck, 2001). Both the prevailing educational model and teacher training continue to opt mainly for unifying training, closely linked to knowledge of watertight disciplines that neither interrelate nor feed back into each other. This hampers the implementation of competence-based education in schools and the implementation of effective competence-based learning during the university training period. Teacher training should enable future teachers to acquire in-depth disciplinary knowledge, but it should also train them in other areas, since there is a need, as pointed out by Jones (2005), to develop meta-competences to achieve integrated knowledge.

Across Europe, teacher training focuses on the importance of information and communication technologies (ICT) and languages, but basic aspects such as the development of interpersonal and social skills are less common, and artistic expression is largely absent (Gordon et al., 2009). The low number of credits offered by arts education subjects in the initial teacher training degree as a whole, which “does not ensure the development and acquisition of competence in students” (Giráldez, 2009, p.52), has also been pointed out. However, although the ultimate aim is to produce not artists, but sensitive people capable of valuing, enjoying and expressing themselves through different languages (Torres & Castell, 2019), we believe that the cultural and artistic competence is fundamental in training for future teachers.

2. Competence-based education: a new teaching paradigm in teacher training

Competence-based education has transformed the education system in all its stages. This learning proposal results from a new approach, which expands the purpose of education from purely professional to a lifelong process (Delors, 1996). Thus, competences “involve the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilising psychosocial resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context” (Rychen & Salganik, 2003, p.3).

This new education paradigm began to take shape in the last decade of the 20th century at the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand. However, it was not until almost a decade later, after the publication of a report by Jacques Delors (1996), promoted by the European Union and UNESCO, when the basic principles of what came to be known as “basic competences” were formulated. Later, with the launch of the Definition and Selection of Competencies project (DeSeCo), promoted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the key competences were finally defined.

The present-day reformulation of the practices of educational processes in accordance with the foundations of active pedagogies takes us closer to a transdisciplinary approach, which goes beyond mere knowledge of subjects to foster complex thinking that enables students to learn concepts, procedures and skills via applied knowledge (Torres, 2018).

In this context, arts education can be favoured since, in addition to boosting creativity (Boni & Lozano, 2006; Gouthro, 2018; Nozimovich et al., 2020), it is also connected in some way to many of the active methodologies currently promoted, thus fostering significant learning beyond the mere comprehension and integration of knowledge, while also taking into consideration the knowledge students have acquired in the cultural, experiential and educational environment (Hanchett, 2019).

We cannot ignore the fact that, in a world overflowing with information and conditioned by an obsessive optimisation of time—which inevitably leads to a certain superficiality—culture is more necessary than ever to foster critical and thoughtful citizens who can assess, enjoy and express themselves by means of different languages (Andrus, 2001). If we understand that arts have a direct effect on the building of positive personal perceptions and identities (Bamford, 2006), which represents a key element in the achievement of educational goals and continuous learning, including the study of cultural awareness and expression competence in course proposals seems particularly relevant to foster change.

Keeling (2006) highlights how the European Higher Education Area, developed as a result of the changes carried out as part of the Bologna Process, is presented in relation to the teaching and learning process of each of the subjects in the university degree by means of a document called a “course proposal”. Beyond the content the teacher must address during the academic year, i.e. the syllabus, the course proposal addresses matters related to the objectives, the methodology or the assessment; in addition, it defines the context in which the learning process takes place (Valarezo-Serrano et al., 2018) and the minimum standards that are considered indispensable (Parcerisa, 2008). As regards competences, it presents the planned radius of action for teaching; that is, what students are guaranteed to integrate during their education. Even though this does not imply an actual achievement and the final effect of the teaching practice is reduced to the competences observed, it does define a shared intention between teacher and student, thus forming the first step towards achievement of the objectives set and enabling a two-way dialogue between the teachers’ expectations and the students.

3. Cultural awareness and expression or cultural and artistic competence

The principles of lifelong learning expressed by the European Union and the OECD broadened the traditional objective of arts education in primary and secondary stages. The report prepared by Robinson (1999), Culture, creativity and the young: developing public policy, established the key points that would give rise to the definition of the eighth key competence: cultural awareness and expression (Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, 2006). This aimed to foster knowledge and appreciation of local, national and European heritage, as well as its place in the world, and to develop the ability to interpret and express oneself through artistic languages (Pérez et al., 2021). Furthermore, Sicherl-Kafol and Denac (2011) indicate that it also fosters aspects such as critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision-making and constructive management of feelings.

After its initial inclusion in educational programmes, arts education has been sliding backwards in the curricula of many member countries, with the time devoted to these activities gradually decreasing (Craith, 2010). Nevertheless, some initiatives have been carried out in different countries such as the Espacio C project in Spain (París-Romia, 2019), Cultural Partnerships in the UK (Côté, 2009), the Cultural Rucksack in Norway (Erstad & Gilje, 2013) and a profound curricular reform of arts education in primary schools in Slovenia, based on cultural awareness and expression (Bračun & Kemperl, 2012). Outside the EU, the US Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009) included the arts among the core subjects for the 21st century.

As a result of the LOE (Organic Law 2/2006 of 3 May on Education), this competence is called cultural and artistic competence in Spain, although the subsequent LOMCE (Organic Law 8/2013 of 9 December for the improvement of educational quality) recovered the term cultural awareness and expression. The autonomous regime in Spain has transferred powers over education to the different Autonomous Communities, which are responsible for designing their own curricula on the basis of the national organic law. Each one has adopted one of the two terms, although there is still no consensus. Given that the term chosen for the Catalan education curriculum (Generalitat de Catalunya: Departament d’Ensenyament, 2017) is cultural and artistic competence, and our study focuses primarily on this geographical area, we have chosen to use this term to refer to this competence.

The cultural and artistic competence is not limited exclusively to the arts, but includes other cultural expressions and concerns the development of an active attitude that also focuses on knowledge and participation as a spectator, as well as the development of a critical and interpretative judgement of cultural events (Castell & Torres, 2018).

The Cultural Affairs Committee of the European Council (2019) insists that the development of artistic and creative skills and the nurturing of talent lie at the heart of the cultural and creative sectors. It has set out five priorities:

To this end, once it has been integrated into the primary and secondary education curricula, it is essential to influence the knowledge and acquisition of the cultural awareness and expression competence.

The cultural awareness and expression competence addresses different dimensions that, according to Darts (2006), are as follows: the cultural dimension as a stimulus/inlet through perception, experimentation and discovery of the environment; and the artistic dimension, understood as ideation and production of creative processes. The conjunction of these two dimensions enables complex thinking, which enables one to act in a specific manner and to be able to apply either, depending on the situation (Ten Dam & Volman, 2007). This process reveals the fact that the future teacher should be able to design scenarios and strategies to facilitate the acquisition of learning by means of active methodologies through which students must face situations that are similar to real life (Smeby, 2007), thus allowing them to implement all knowledge acquired (Schomburg, 2007).

4. Method

To improve the way in which the cultural awareness and expression competence is approached and addressed in the course proposals of the double bachelor’s degree in Education taught by the UB Faculty of Education, we pursued the following specific objectives:

Objective 1. To analyse the cultural and artistic competence within the course proposals of the arts education subjects in the double bachelor’s degrees in Education offered by Catalan universities and by a sample of other leading Spanish universities.

Objective 2. To carry out a comparison of the course proposals analysed to identify how the cultural and artistic competence is addressed and to determine the extent to which it is present.

Objective 3. To consider the approach to the cultural and artistic competence and the needs of artistic expression based on the perceptions of the different actors involved.

In the absence of a tool to study how the cultural and artistic competence is addressed in early teacher training, and taking related research as a reference (Calderón-Garrido et al., 2017; González & Muñoz, 2010), an analytical and exploratory study was designed to respond to the objectives of this research; the approach was mainly qualitative but also used mixed methods as regards its processing, based on process models used in well-founded research.

The research techniques developed focused on the documentary analysis of course proposals and the contributions of different actors involved in the study, which were collected through focus groups and surveys (see Table 1).

Table 1

Table summarising the data collection techniques and tools used for the research






1 & 2

Desk research

Coding table.

3 blocks:

Concept of competence.

Teaching competence.

Cultural and artistic competence.

63 plans from 12 universities

Atlas.ti 7


Focus groups (2)

Semi-structured script

10 participants (5 per focus group)





Teacher of visual education (UB) (n = 22)


UB Faculty of Education student body (n = 245)

Google form


Regarding the first and the second goals, we carried out a documentary analysis based on a universal sample of the course proposals of Catalan universities and an intentional probability sample of the double bachelor’s degrees in Education at the relevant public universities at national level, with a view to detecting similarities or differences in other university contexts and possible geographic biases. All of these were in force during the development of this research (2017-2018 academic year). In total, 63 course proposals from 12 universities were analysed: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), Universitat Abat Oliba (CEU), Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Universitat de Girona (UDG), Universitat de Lleida (UDL), Universidad de Salamanca (USAL), Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (USC), Universitat de Vic (UVIC), Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC) and Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV).

For the analysis of the teaching plans for each subject, the subjects of each university in the area of artistic expression were initially identified and contextualised to quantify them and determine the percentage of credits in relation to the total for each study plan.

Subsequently, a coding table was drawn up, structured in three blocks: one referring to the concept of competence itself, the second linked to the teaching competence and the third linked to the cultural and artistic competence.

The new contributions collected through the focus group were incorporated into the structural approach that was initially defined, agreed upon and discussed by the research team based on functionality and operating rationality criteria. These contributions were identified by data processing the debates generated and detecting recurring terms linked to the definition of the cultural and artistic competence subject to codification.

In this way, the coding table was set up with 17 codes: eight referring to the concept of competence, in which aspects relating to the typological classification (General/Basic, Transversal, Specific) and the defining elements of these, such as aptitudes, attitudes and values, were included; one code for teaching competence; and eight related to the cultural and artistic competence in which perception, experimentation, processes or visual languages, among others, were highlighted.

For the analysis, the Atlas.ti 7 program was used to explore the intensity of concurrence between the coded fragments and to aggregate the cases on the basis of three functional organisational groups: the UB group, the Catalan universities group and the Spanish reference universities group.

With regard to the focus groups, two groups involving a total of 10 professionals in the area of visual education were held. According to the thematic and conceptual interests of the study, four participant profiles were selected for each of the sessions in accordance with criteria concerning links with educational experiences in formal and non-formal settings related to the area. In accordance with the objective (3), we believed that it was important that people with a non-formal education profile participated, since this is an area of special interest for the development of the cultural and artistic competence that is conditioned less by academic formality and is perhaps more attentive to the development of the competence: Primary Education teacher (1), teacher of Childhood Education teacher (1), artistic educator from a non-formal area (2) and university teacher from the area of artistic expression in the simultaneous itinerary for teacher of Primary Education and Childhood Education (1).

For the focus groups, a script was prepared with eight open questions that allowed participants to answer based on their own experience (Krueger, 1991) and were designed on the basis of the three central pillars of the research: concept of competence, teaching competence, and cultural and artistic competence.

The sessions were filmed and analysed with the ELAN Linguistic Annotator (v. 5.1) software application, which allowed for the interactive transcription and codification of the relevant fragments.

To collect information from other stakeholders, two questionnaires were developed—one aimed at the teaching profile of the area of visual education (n = 22) and one at the student body of the UB Faculty of Education (n = 245)—and were worked on the basis of a sample of possibilities. An online questionnaire was offered, based on Google Forms, and was open to voluntary participation during the 2018-2019 academic year in the bachelor’s degrees in Childhood Education and Primary Education and in the double bachelor’s degree in Education of the UB.

Given the specific nature of the research, and in accordance with its objectives, the questionnaire was drawn up based on the results of the focus groups with experts in the area of knowledge, as well as validation by the members of the research team.

The questionnaire was made up of 13 items distributed into Likert-type questions (9), polytomous questions (2) in relation to satisfaction with training in the area and knowledge of the competence area in the education system, and multiple-choice questions (2) referring to the identification of the competences of the area within the curriculum.

The results obtained from the automatic processing generated by the Google tool were added to the general data aggregation process in Atlas.ti 7, previously used for the desk analysis of the teaching plans.

5. Results

Based on the processing of the data obtained from the documentary analysis of the course proposals, the focus groups and the questionnaires, the following results were obtained:

Regarding the presence of the cultural and artistic competence (objectives 1 and 2), through a contextual analysis of the structural data collected that focused on the quantitative expression of the overall credits of the bachelor’s degrees and the subjects linked to arts education (see Table 2), we found that:

Table 2

Number of credits for subjects in the field of visual education offered by each university in relation to the total number of credits



In relation to arts education

In relation to the visual arts area



Credits of compulsory subjects

% in relation to TC

Total credits

% in relation to TC

















































Note. TC = Total credits in the double degree.

As regards the treatment of the cultural and artistic competence (objectives 1 and 2), the quality analysis of the content and the structure of the course proposals allowed us to observe that:

Regarding the intensity of connections between the fragments codified with the terms “cultural and artistic competence” and “teaching competence”, we observed that these latter terms were the most frequent, with a total of 218 in absolute values of the codification. This fact arises directly from the previously mentioned fragmentation, which allows for the detection of elements that would make up an integral part of what could be considered “cultural and artistic competence”, but it is neither defined nor shown as such in the course proposals.

In relation to the perceptions provided by the different agents involved (objective 3), in the focus groups with experts, we identified 85 terms that were subsequently regrouped into three conceptual groups; these three groups were arranged in order of relevance: competence, knowledge and assessment (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Terms with the highest frequency of use (67 times or more) in the sample analysis derived from the focus group