This study investigates how organizational features of university and workplace institutions shape coherence between ideas about the knowledge required for professional education across the curriculum, in two “semi-professions”—teaching and social work. While coherence is imperative for program design in professional education frameworks that include theoretical and practicum components, it is often found to be challenging, especially in occupational fields where connections between knowledge and practice are historically weak and a demarcated knowledge base for professional preparation is missing. Based on a triangulation of qualitative research methods conducted in the working contexts of 56 professional educators in Israel, this study reveals more coherent curricula in social work education than in teacher education and exposes how such divergence is determined by the state of alignment between organizations of practice and research activities in workplace and university institutions. Findings show that whereas the organization of research activities determines faculty domains of expertise and involvement in the program and subsequently, the knowledge represented in theoretical courses, the organization of professional practice, as imposed by core working conditions, requires activating particular domains of professional knowledge in practicum settings. By underscoring institutional influences on curricular coherence in professional education, the study contributes to the international discussion about the role of academic knowledge in professional training and highlights how organizational conditions in both professional and higher education settings create affordances and limitations for professional education curricula.
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