Concerns about Teaching Process: Student Teachers' Perspective

Article excerpt

The aim of this study is to determine the student teachers' concerns about the teaching process including the teaching profession, teaching methods, planning, instruction, evaluation and classroom management. A total of 156 student teachers from five departments in the Gazi faculty of education participated in the study. A questionnaire including an open-ended item was applied in order to establish the nature of the student teachers' concerns. The responses from the student teachers to the questionnaire were shown in table form by using percentage and frequency. All the statistical analyzes were performed with SPSS whereas content analysis was employed for the open ended item. The study has revealed some specific points which should be taken into consideration by teacher educators and researchers.

Introduction

There has been considerable research conducted on teachers' concerns, stress and anxieties in the literature (e.g., Liu & Huang, 2005; Alfi et al., 2004; Christou, et al., 2004; Cheung.& Yip, 2004; Swennen et al., 2004; Capel, 2001; Hui, 2001; Storch & Tapper, 2000; Murray-Harvey et al., 2000; Meek & Behets, 1999; Kyriacou & Stephen, 1999; Jongmans et al., 1998; Forlin, 1998; Capei, 1997; Morton et al., 1997; Mccullough & Mintz, 1992; Staton-Spicer & Bassett, 1979). Some researchers have studied the primary or secondary students' concerns, others have focused on teachers' concerns (e.g. Christou, et al., 2004), some have dealt with the concerns from both sides (e.g., Cheung & Yip, 2004; Hui, 2001; Storch & Tapper, 2000), and others have studied student teachers' concerns (e.g., Swennen et al., 2004). All the researchers have studied this field brought many different perspectives related to the concerns of the teachers and students, particularly during teaching-learning process.

Review of the related studies indicates that the concepts of stress, concern and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably by the researchers. Rogers (1992), for instance, states that the reasons for stress include teaching, management, discipline, etc. Kyriacou (1997) argues teachers stress can be categorized and that such categories may include lower level of stress, time constraints, work overload and lack of materials, disadvantages related to working conditions. Rogers (1992) also emphasizes that stressful conditions also lead to feelings of anxiety and distress. Kyriacou (1997, p. 157) argues that in contrast to other occupations, teachers perceive their profession as one of the most stressful one. Kyriacou (1995) points out that when teachers feel stressed, the quality of their interactions with students can be affected. He further states that effective teaching depends on positive classroom atmosphere and that productive communication with students contributes to the positive classroom atmosphere.

Given that all the factors provide effective teaching are important in this broad context studies, dealing with the stress levels of the teachers and also student teachers is of great importance. As Fritz and Miller (2003) stated, teachers might experience concerns related to teaching during their teaching career, but these concerns might be more intense during the student teaching and the initial years. Therefore, in this paper, student teachers' concerns regarding the teaching process is investigated. Hall (1979, cited in Liu & Huang, 2005, p.37) defined concerns as the motivations, perceptions, attitudes and feelings that teachers experience related to implementing an innovation. Concerns can also be defined as (Jongmans et al., 1998) "... concerns are a natural phenomenon in situations in which teachers are expected to tackle novel problems, to use new materials or new methods, etc." (van den Berg & Vandenberghe, 1995, p. 20).

According to Forlin (1998) teachers' concerns are frequently the result of changing roles and new responsibilities often determined by the continual introduction of different educational initiatives, policies, and practices. …