School-based placement in a distance intial teacher education programme
Ussher, W. (Bill) G. (2011). School-based placement in a distance intial teacher education programme (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5326
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5326
School-based experiences provide opportunities and challenges for student teachers and teacher-educators in initial teacher education (ITE). Researchers and ITE providers highlight school-based experiences as occasions for learning teaching in a supported environment, practising theory learned through study and theorising their own and others’ practice. School-based experiences in distance education require greater emphasis on the importance of partnerships and relationships. For students studying by distance effective communication, community building and professional agency are important in overcoming separation and enabling authentic experiences. This qualitative study uncovers new knowledge about distance school-based experiences using a combination of interpretive, naturalistic and case study methodologies. It offers a holistic view of the school-based experiences, seeking links and relationships between important factors. The individual and collective voices of nine student teachers, gathered through written narratives and focus group conversations, yielded rich data about their experiences and perspectives of placement in nine New Zealand primary schools. The multiple realities presented were collated to create four collective stories. The students’ collective stories were validated through semi-structured interviews with the coordinating teachers and university lecturers who worked with them. A conceptual framework, developed as a model, focused the analysis and interpretation of the data. While each school-based placement could have been a case study on its own, this investigation found six key factors common to the nine settings. Two findings were of particular significance. First, as earlier researchers reported, the relationship between student and the classroom teacher was critical, even more so for student teachers in a distance school-based experience. Second, student teachers who had the confidence and encouragement to engage with a wider range of professionals created more opportunities to learn teaching. For them the whole school became their ‘village’ for learning, where children and colleagues were an integral part of their learning community, creating opportunities to interact with a wider range of learners. This allowed them to view teaching and learning through various perspectives. Other findings were, third, that members of school-based communities who regarded students as committed, rewarded them with time, support and opportunities for teaching learning. Fourth, support and time provided to all partners in a school-based placement enabled them to better manage the demands of a placement. Fifth, being well-informed as placement leaders (teachers and lecturers) conveyed confidence and signified they understood relevant aspects of the placement, which enabled them to meet obligations in supporting the student teacher. Sixth, I uncovered mixed views on whether student teachers should be placed in a school where they had an earlier experience, for example as a teacher aide or parent helper. Most participants supported the idea of distance student teachers working in a familiar school, a significant issue for prospective student teachers living in small or remote communities in New Zealand. Finally, the conceptual framework was re-examined in light of the findings. It emerged as an appropriate theoretical model for the purpose of guiding review and development of school-based experiences, especially for those students studying by distance.
University of Waikato
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