The Influence of Experience on Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Good and Bad Aspects of a Lesson

Article excerpt

Abstract

Experiences in sport and physical activity prior to formal teacher preparation are thought to be influential on perceptions of aspiring teachers. Various types of sport and teaching experiences of future teachers have not, however, been linked to specific beliefs and perceptions of teaching effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of varying levels of athletic, coaching, and teaching experience on pre-service teachers' perceptions. Seventy undergraduate students representing four different profiles of experience were studied. Participants viewed a 40-minute videotape of an elementary soccer lesson, commenting on good and bad aspects of the lesson. One-half of the participants had previous experience playing the sport, and more than 70% had some combination of teaching and coaching experience. In spite of different histories, profiles of observations were remarkably similar. Consequently, the impact of varied backgrounds may not be a major source of differences across prospective teachers. There was also evidence to suggest that prospective teachers may be able to generalize experiences across different types of playing and teaching or coaching backgrounds. This means that preparation programs do not need to provide recruits with experience in every possible sport activity area.

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Investigations into teacher development suggest that biography has a powerful effect on preservice teachers' beliefs and perceptions of teaching. School-related experiences prior to formal teacher education are thought to be influential in providing a subjective warrant for teaching and coaching. Furthermore, this apprenticeship of observation appears to affect recruits' adoption or rejection of the messages delivered in teacher education programs. While research on preservice physical education teachers has documented that various beliefs brought into formal training are difficult to change (Doolittle, Dodds, & Placek, 1993; Graber, 1995; Schempp, 1989), data on the connections between biography and specific beliefs about teaching are limited.

Lawson (1983) has also suggested that prospective teachers develop an orientation toward teaching and/or coaching by assuming these roles prior to formal training. Indeed, a large number of prospective physical education teachers and coaches have assumed what Lawson (1983) termed "secondary involvements" (p. 8) in sport roles prior to formal training (Dodds, Placek, Doolittle, Pinkham, Ratliffe, & Portman, 1992). Exactly what effect these experiences have on preservice teachers' perceptions of teaching is not clear.

This study was designed to understand more clearly preservice teachers' perceptions of physical education teaching as mediated by pretraining experiences (i.e., athletic, coaching and/or teaching). More specifically, the purpose of this study was to examine the influence of different levels of experience playing, teaching and/or coaching on perceptions of good and bad aspects of a lesson. Armed with insights into the effects of biography, teacher educators would have a befter understanding of how recruits learn to teach. Specifically, what may be available are insights into the development of what Shulman (1987) has described as content knowledge (CK), pedagogical knowledge (PK), and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Along with these insights may come the skills to design more effective teacher preparation programs.

Method

Informed consent was obtained from all participants prior to data collection. Participants were assigned a coded identity number, which was used to facilitate anonymity, and to encourage honest responses. Participants were further informed that neither their decision to participate, nor any answers given would affect their grades in any courses within their program of study.

Participants

A total of 70 students, sophomores and juniors enrolled in an undergraduate physical education teacher education (PETE) program in the northeastern United States, served as participants. …

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