Elementary Teacher Education Students' Perceptions of Team Teaching

Article excerpt

Introduction

Team teaching is a method that two or more instructors work together over the planning, teaching, and evaluation of courses (Easterby-Smith & Olve, 1984; Zhang and Keim, 1993). Studies have shown that team teaching approach is highly related to quality of learning and performance, and has been successfully utilized in a wide rage of subject areas, including psychology (Heath, Carlson & Kurtze, 1987; Flanagan & Falston, 1983; Lindauer, 1990; Plotnicov, 1985; Rinn and Weir, 1984; Toomey & Eldridge, 1982). For example, some studies indicate that students have benefits as a result of having multiple instructors in a course (Rinn & Weir, 1984; Troen & Boles, 1988; Wenger & Hornyak, 1999). Team teaching methods bring various expertise to the class and allow students to optimize their learning processes that go beyond the direct instruction. In addition, team teaching approaches create an authentic environment which reflects real life situations through active interactions among learners and instructors (Winter, 1993).

However, compared to the increasing amount of research on team teaching, there has been little research on pre--and in-service teacher education students' perception in teaching approaches. The majority of the research on team teaching has been conducted with undergraduate courses such as psychology and management education courses (Easterby-Smith & Olve, 1984; Lee & Cheri, 1996). Therefore, more extensive examinations of teacher education students' perception in team teaching approaches were deemed warranted.

Objectives of the Study

The present study examines elementary teacher education students' thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about university team teaching. More specifically, overall perceptions of team teaching approaches, and understanding of the course concepts, environments, and evaluations were investigated over the Spring Quarter, 2001. The team teaching method was adopted by a junior and a senior faculty at a university located in Southern California in an educational psychology course.

Evolving Team Teaching

Our team teaching effort was organized in a collegial structure where a junior faculty from the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling and a senior faculty from the Department of Language, Literacy, and Culture, work together to teach an educational psychology course, scheduled from 6:00 P M to 9:50 P M on Wednesday. The course is one of requirement courses in the College of Education taken by credential program students who are either pre- or in-service teachers at schools in California.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of the team teaching, both faculty followed the guidelines suggested by Bennett, Ishler, and O'Loughlin (1992). The processes of planning, teaching, and evaluation of the course occurred in a mutually supportive environment, where both faculty have an equally collaborative relationship.

Team planning. Prior to the beginning of the team teaching, the two faculty members met once a week over the winter quarter to plan the team teaching course for the Spring Quarter 2001. Emails were also used as an alternative way to plan for the course. After reviewing the curriculum, the team teaching members specified overall course goals and objectives to share a clear understanding of the course. The course syllabus, projects, course schedules were carefully designed related to the course goals and objectives and literature on team teaching. Course schedules and topics were coordinated based upon each faculty's area of expertise. As part of the syllabus, each student received a schedule showing the topic to be covered each day, the reading assignments for that topic, and information and rubrics on three projects.

Team teaching and evaluation. Both faculty were present in every class over the quarter and engaged in all activities. …