Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Prospective Computer Teachers' Mental Images about the Concepts of "School" and "Computer Teacher"*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Prospective Computer Teachers' Mental Images about the Concepts of "School" and "Computer Teacher"*

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this phenomenological study, prospective computer teachers' mental images related to the concepts of "school" and "computer teacher" were examined through metaphors. Participants were all the 45 seniors majoring in the Department of Computer and Instructional Technologies at Selcuk University, Ahmet Kelesoglu Faculty of Education during the 2009-2010 academic year. They were asked to produce one metaphor for their either experienced or ideal "school" image and one metaphor for their either experienced or ideal "computer teacher" image. Collected data were analyzed by using the "content analysis" technique. According to the findings, participants produced 33 valid metaphors about the "school". While 16 of these metaphors reflected their past schooling experiences, 17 of them reflected their ideal schools. Based on their common characteristics, all the 33 metaphors were grouped into 9 categories (a disciplinary center, a shaping place, a work center, an outdated place, a place of enlightenment, a place of hope, a place of growth, a place of solidarity and a fun place). In the same way, participants produced a total of 21 valid metaphors about the "computer teacher". While 10 of these metaphors reflected their past computer teachers, 11 of them represented their ideal computer teachers. Based on their common characteristics, all the 21 metaphors were grouped into 6 categories (superior authority figure, shaper, information provider, curer, guide and democratic leader). It appears that while participants produced only teaching-focused metaphors to reflect their school experiences and computer teachers, they developed both teaching- and learning-focused metaphors to reflect their ideal schools and computer teachers.

Key Words

Computer Teacher Candidates, Metaphors about School, Metaphors about Computer Teacher, Qualitative Research.

Metaphor provides a powerful mental model in understanding and explaining high-level abstract or complex phenomena (Saban, Koçbeker, & Saban, 2006). In this regard, metaphor acts as a means of thinking and visualization and it symbolizes one's perception of the world and reality. As Shuell (1990, p. 102) stated: "If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a metaphor is worth 1,000 pictures. For a picture provides only a static image while a metaphor provides a conceptual framework for thinking about something."

The concept of metaphor is derived from the Greek word "metaphora", which means "taking from one place to another place". Hence, metaphor is used to explain a complex phenomenon or event by likening it to another phenomenon or event (Oxford et al., 1998). According to Lakoff and Johnson (1980, p. 5), for example, metaphor involves "understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another." Thus, a metaphor is formed by referring the X phenomenon as the Y phenomenon openly or implicitly. That is why a metaphor is a powerful mental tool; it "provides a relationship between two dissimilar domains to transfer ideas by using a mental scheme to reflect another" (Saban, 2008a, p. 460).

According to Forceville (2002), in any metaphorical relationship, there are at least three basic elements: (1) the metaphor topic, (2) the metaphor vehicle, and (3) the features which are attributed from the source of metaphor to the topic of metaphor. For example: "For me school was like a zoo because the schools I have been so far restricted us all the time as if we were in a zoo. They made us lose our skills and different characteristics. Just like the animals in the cages, we were blocked and could not show our skills in schools. And, when we tried to get out of those cages, we were fiercely warned and stopped." Hence, in any metaphorical relationship, the metaphor vehicle acts as a mental "filter" or a "strainer" to understand or explain the topic of the metaphor in a different perspective (Saban et al., 2006). As Quale (2002, p. 447) also explains: "It is a descriptive analogy, serving to illuminate whatever phenomenon A is being considered, by drawing 'lines of association' to some other phenomenon B that we feel we already understood. …

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