Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Assessing Student Teaching Experiences: Teacher Candidates' Perceptions of Preparedness

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Assessing Student Teaching Experiences: Teacher Candidates' Perceptions of Preparedness

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of student teaching experiences by measuring teacher candidates' perceptions of their preparedness. The participants were 130 teacher candidates who had completed their student teaching as part of a program preparing them to teach children in pre-K through grade 4. Teacher candidates responded to the survey by recalling their before and after student teaching experiences. A paired t-test was calculated to determine statistical mean differences before and after student teaching on five categories: a) pedagogical content knowledge, b) planning and preparation for instruction, c) classroom management, d) promoting family involvement, and e) professionalism. Mean differences of all of the paired items between pre-and post survey were shown to be statistically significant on all five categories.

Introduction

All students deserve effective instruction, and students from low-income, minority populations especially rely upon excellent teachers. AlAough various factors play a role in fostering teacher quality, teacher preparation programs have a major responsibility and opportunity to make a difference in the quality of teaching. However, the literature on teacher preparation programs shows that different programs vary in learning experiences offered and in how well prepared graduates feel (Darling-Hammond, Chung, & Frelow, 2002). Darling-Hammond (2006) called for research on what is taking place within teacher preparation programs. The Education Policy Paper on Teacher Quality (Wilson, 2010), an initiative of the National 'Academy of Education, also called for teacher preparation programs to examine their contributions to fostering effective teaching. Student teaching has been considered an important, if not the most important, facet of teacher preparation (Hollins & Guzman, 2005), and needed research includes studies that provide teacher candidates' perspectives (Clift & Brady, 2005). In this study, we aim to investigate how student teaching experiences impact teacher candidates' feelings of preparedness for teaching.

Theoretical Framework

Findings of studies on teachers' perspectives, perceptions, or beliefs have provided valuable insights on assessing teaching practices linking teachers' perceptions (or beliefs) to positive instructional practices including classroom management as well as student school outcomes (Jones, 2006). Teaching efficacy, defined as "teachers' beliefs about theif own effectiveness" (Yilmaz, 2011, p. 92), has been a critical construct in teacher education programs as they attempt to improve the quality of teacher candidates' skills, knowledge, and dispositions. Teacher efficacy is also an important construct for the purpose of this study.

A teacher's sense of efficacy in teaching, or his or her confidence about being able to influence students' learning, is one of the most well-documented aspects of effective teaching (Henson, Kogan, & Vacha-Haase, 2001). The concept of teacher efficacy is based on Bandura's (1977; 1986) theory that efficacy beliefs affect human agency in various ways; for example, people avoid tasks and do not put forth effort where they do not feel confident Efficacy beliefs affect how teachers interact with students and die amount of effort teachers are willing to put forth in meeting educational outcomes. Darling-Hammond et al. (2002) reported significant correspondence between feelings of preparedness and sense of efficacy, a finding consistent witib other research on teacher efficacy. When teachers feel they are well prepared, they tend to have high self-efficacy in teaching.

Positive relationships between self-efficacy in teaching and its relationship with student outcomes have been well reported (Chacon, 2005; Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Goker, 2006). When one feels and believes about his capability, his/her feeling and belief affect likelihood of his/her behaviors similar to his/her feeling and belief. …

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