Academic journal article Australian and International Journal of Rural Education

Chinese Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching Practicum under Contrasting Contexts: Implications for Rural Teacher Preparation

Academic journal article Australian and International Journal of Rural Education

Chinese Pre-Service Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching Practicum under Contrasting Contexts: Implications for Rural Teacher Preparation

Article excerpt

Introduction

Globally, university-based teacher education preparation programs have been scrutinized in preparing teachers for impoverished schools. (Wiggins et al., 2007). China, for example, faces persistent challenges on how to prepare and retain pre-service teachers for rural areas, where most schools suffer poor resource distribution (Qian & Smyth, 2008; Luo & Mkandawire, 2015).

Since the 1980's China's rapid economic growth has significantly increased the inequality of household income between urban and rural areas (Shi 2004; Stratford & Cowling, 2016). According to the OECD's China report, the 2012 household income per capita in urban areas was three times higher than rural areas in comparison to 1978, where the household income per capita in urban areas was two times higher than rural areas (2016). This wide urban-rural income gap was partly caused by the household registration (hukou) system. This system hindered rural residents' free movement and limited their access to better education, healthcare and employment opportunities (Stratford & Cowling, 2016). Besides the economic disparity, the urban-rural gaps also include political, social, and cultural differences (Wang, 2018).

In the last 30 years, these social and economic disparities have resulted in a large achievement gap between urban and rural schools (Thomas, Wang & Fan, 2001; Qian & Smyth, 2008). This achievement gap continues to grow. Since 2000, the increasing emphasis on education equality in China has called for more educational responses to increased urban-rural gaps (Leibold & Chen, 2014). Some new initiatives linking school curriculum with local cultures and conditions have emerged, and more localized teaching materials have been introduced to public schools (Leibold & Chen, 2014). Correspondingly, scholars and educators have called on Chinese teacher education systems to develop approaches that target students from all backgrounds, especially the students from impoverished schools (Qiquan, 2008).

In 2007, the Chinese government implemented an incentive policy, Free Teacher Education Program (FTEP), to attract pre-service teachers to teach in rural schools (Lin & Zhang, 2006). According to this policy, students have the opportunity to receive a free four-year undergraduate education from six of the most prestigious teacher preparation institutions of China in exchange for a commitment to work in public schools for 10 years, with the first three years employed in rural schools (MOE, 2007). By 2015, two cohorts graduated from the FTEP program, but less than half of them chose to work in rural schools. For those who did obtain rural teaching positions, the turnover rate was high (Luo & Mkandawire, 2015). Besides factors, such as poor working conditions (Yang & Wang, 2007), Were there any other driving forces that may have contributed to pre-service teachers' reluctance to work in rural schools? In the current study, we examined the potential influences of the teaching practicum on pre-service teachers' rural teaching commitment.

In the last three decades, a considerable amount of Chinese research literature has highlighted alongside many Western countries the disconnections and contradictions between the subject matter of teacher education preparation programs and actual public school settings (Wang & Paine, 2001; You & Jia, 2008). Among the criticisms, is the over-emphasis of university-based courses and the large gap between educational theories and teaching practices (Qiquan, 2008; Zhang, 1995). As English and Lewison (1979) described, the teaching practicum seemingly does not fit into the "academic ballgame" (p. 47). Due to the narrowness and simplification of the teaching practicum, field experiences have been underappreciated (You & Jia, 2008), and teachers are not fully prepared for teaching children, whose cultural backgrounds are different from their own (Wang & Gao, 2013). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.