Academic journal article Middle Grades Research Journal

IN THE MIDDLE: Elementary Education Preservice Teachers' Experiences, Efficacy, and Interest in the Education of Young Adolescents

Academic journal article Middle Grades Research Journal

IN THE MIDDLE: Elementary Education Preservice Teachers' Experiences, Efficacy, and Interest in the Education of Young Adolescents

Article excerpt

Given the dearth of research on elementary education majors' experiences in middle level endorsement programs (Anderson, 2009), and the shortage of teachers aspiring to work with young adolescents, this case study examined the topic to provide insight into the experiences of preservice elementary education teachers. Specifically, this study focused on elementary education preservice teachers' perceptions of and experiences in a mandatory middle level education course and its required field experience, and the resulting effects on their interest and efficacy in relation to their preparedness for interacting with young adolescents. Further justifying the need for specific middle level education coursework, the study found preservice teachers in relatively diverse field placements increased feelings of efficacy, though not necessarily interest in working with young adolescents.

Preservice teachers come into teacher education programs with "preconceptions about how the world, and teaching, works" (Hammemess et al., 2005, p. 359). When preservice teachers think about "middle school," their initial reaction is often negative, developed through their "apprenticeship of observation" (Lortie, 1975) while attending middle school and subsequent interactions with young adolescents. This negative stereotype of middle school is one significant barrier to recruiting and retaining (Gootman, 2007; McEwin, Dickinson, & Smith, 2003) effective middle school teachers that are adequately prepared and value working with this age group (Association of Middle Level Education formerly the National Middle School Association [NMSA], 2010). Another challenge is the availability of specialized middle level teacher licensure. While 46 states provide for some specific middle level education training, only 28 states and the District of Columbia require middle level licensure (McEwin, 2007), which further aggravates this challenge. Eighteen of the states offer middle level endorsements/content area concentrations (McEwin, 2007), which some argue are insufficient for ensuring adequately prepared faculty for all young adolescents (Jackson & Davis, 2000; McEwin, Smith, & Dickinson, 2003; Swaim & Stefanich, 1996).

The current literature on middle level teacher preparation primarily focuses on determining the characteristics and qualities of appropriate middle level teacher preparation (Butler, Davies, & Dickinson, 1991; Dickinson & McEwin, 1997; Scales, 1993; Silverman, 1990), the status of middle level licensure as it relates to middle level preparation (Gaskill, 2002; McEwin, 2007), and justifying the need for specialized preparation (Jackson & Davis, 2000; McEwin, Dickinson, et al., 2003; NMSA, 2010; Scales & McEwin, 1994; Swaim & Stefanich, 1996) rather than the examination of such programs (Conklin, 2009). Despite the fact that 18 states currently offer content area endorsements to teach middle school, almost no research exists regarding the nature of endorsement programs and the impact of such programs on the preparation of elementary education majors for teaching middle level students (Anderson, 2009; Conklin, 2007). Therefore, there is limited literature to inform a best practice approach to preparing teachers under these circumstances and how a course on middle school methods influences elementary education majors' decision to work with young adolescents.

This limited extent of research and the shortage of teachers that express a desire to work with young adolescents as a result of either stereotypes about middle school students or based on their own middle school experiences indicate a need to ensure the middle level education coursework for endorsements is as effective as possible to both recruit and prepare effective middle level educators (Gootman, 2007; McEwin, Dickinson et al., 2003). Elementary education majors participating in a required middle level endorsement program do not necessarily choose to enter the field of teaching to work with young adolescents, but rather are obliged to complete preparatory coursework and activities based on university or state requirements. …

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.