In the Trenches: Increasing Competency of Teachers-In Training by Having Them Conduct Individualized Interventions

Article excerpt

Fifty-teachers-in-training went into a classroom to work with individual students, targeting specific behavioral or academic interventions for each student. This was the experimental condition. Forty-seven students were not involved in the mentoring program (control condition). All 90 students were in an educational psychology class, with all other conditions (lectures, texts, testing, discussion) the same for both groups. All students were assessed in the area of teacher efficacy, in a pretest-posttest format. Results indicated that all students had significant gains in efficacy during the 10-week intervention period. Experimental subjects had direct and supervised experiences in goal-setting, collecting baseline data, charting and evaluating progress. Possible reasons for the gains in both groups are discussed, and qualitative data is presented to show vicarious enhancement for controls.

The current study was conducted to determine the impact of an experiential activity on teachers-in-training. The activity consisted of going into a public school classroom to work on an individual basis with targeted public school students, developing and implementing an individualized plan to improve either an academic or a behavioral status of the targeted child. The objectives of the study were as follows:

1. To assess changes in teachers' efficacy as a result of planning, implementing, and evaluating individualized behavioral and/or academic interventions.

2. To determine if measured teacher efficacy of teachers-in-training who carried out in-classroom, individualized behavioral and/or academic interventions is greater than the teacher efficacy of similar teachers-in-training who did not have in-classroom experiences.

3. To investigate the effects of implementation of behavioral and/or academic intervention programs conducted by teachers-in-training.

It was also expected that a side effect of the study would be vicarious learning by way of peer discussion and reporting among the experimental subjects.

Theoretical Perspectives

Two areas related to classroom education are tapped in this study. The first is classroom management, both in the monitoring and intervention with academic progress and the maintenance of appropriate and positive student behavior. The second is teacher efficacy, which is related to both teacher motivation and metacognition as teachers focus on the plans and serendipitous events that may create either a productive or nonproductive learning environment. More globally, the impact of these variables is assessed in the population known as teachers-in-training, a most fertile area for didactic, cognitive, and practical interventions and implications.

Kounin' s (1970) concept of "withitness" has become a vital part of instruction for both teachers-in-training and seasoned teachers. Evertson's (1982, 1988, 1989) work, along with that of Emmer (1981, 1994) and Good (1981) and Good and Brophy (1987), continue to serve as didactic models for classroom management training. In more recent years, classroom management has been further subdivided into categories such as pupil control. (Doyle, 1986; Hoy & Woolfolk, 1990), communication with students (Kagan & Tippins, 1991), teaching techniques (Ross, 1994), and keeping students motivated or on task (Woolfolk, Rosoff, & Hoy, 1990).

There is a place for individual intervention in the work of a teacher, whether the student is affecting other students, the teacher's self-perceived effectiveness, or even when his/her academic strategies or behavioral patterns are detrimental only to his/her own progress and success in the classroom (Sudzina & Gay, 1993). There is often a need to formulate and implement specific individualized student programs for a short duration. Evertson et al. (1989) suggest some very specific and practical ways to develop and implement individual programs. From isolation to individual contracts to parent involvement to check or demerit systems, there are certain elements common to all individualized plans. …