Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Scrutinizing Practicum for a More Powerful Teacher Education: A Longitudinal Study with Pre-Service Teachers

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Scrutinizing Practicum for a More Powerful Teacher Education: A Longitudinal Study with Pre-Service Teachers

Article excerpt

While the undisputed goal of student achievement pursuant to the field of education "In a world where education matters more than it ever has before, ..." (Darling- Hammond, 2006, p. 4) exists, there is also growing empirical evidence that the quality of teacher preparation and certification plays a determining role in attaining this goal (Darling-Hammond, 2000a, 2000b, 2006; Yildirim, 2013). As a result, the field of teacher education faces the "problem" of explaining how teachers learn to teach, which the related literature has argued to be possible through reflection (Richards, 2008). Reflection as a practice is a highly valued component of pre-service teacher training (Akcan, 2010; Betil-Eröz, 2013; Hamiloglu, 2014; Seferoglu, 2006) as it stimulates the growth and development of teachers as professionals (Loughran, 2002).

School-based practicum, another important aspect acknowledged to be highly influential in the initial education of teachers (Hascher, Cocard, & Moser, 2004), lies at the heart of pre-service teachers' knowledge construction and professional development (Tang, 2004), and growing consensus exists on the necessity of a reflective practice for pre-service teachers in practicum settings. With the help of observing real teaching/learning contexts and carrying out tasks under the supervision of university lecturers and cooperating teachers, pre-service teachers can develop their own teaching knowledge and skills and reflect on their beliefs (Tarman, 2012); this supports their cognitive learning and development (Cheng, Cheng, & Tang, 2010). Practicum is recognized as a learning arena where pre-service teachers maximize their opportunity to bridge theory with practice.

Regarding the importance of reflection incorporated into practicum during preservice teachers' professional development, Hamiloglu (2013) aimed to investigate whether pre-service teachers' professional identities during their practicum were influenced more effectively when they could reflect. Data was collected through reflective journals, interviews, and stimulated recall sessions. The results showed that participants had become more aware of the transformation of their emerging identities from being imagined to practice. She interpreted this finding to suggest that practicum plays a prominent role as long as it has a critical reflective nature.

Prior to practicum, pre-service teachers also have a chance to gain some practical experience through microteaching simulations during their university courses. Microteaching, which dates back to the 60s, has been criticized for concealing the characteristics of the technicist view of teaching in its nature since learning to teach is conceptualized as acquiring, practicing, and reinforcing a discrete set of behaviors. However, it is important to note that it is particularly valued by pre-service teachers (Farrell, 2008; Seferoglu, 2006) in terms of the positive impact it is argued to have on growth in the teaching profession. After rejecting the technicist view of teaching, microteaching simulations retained a position in teacher education by undergoing some modifications that provided room for systematic reflection to be incorporated into microteaching (Johnson & Arshavskaya, 2011). The practices that accompany self-examination have made it especially feasible in larger contexts which include social and institutional agents (Farrell, 2008).

One powerful tool that has been used to facilitate reflection in pre-teacher education is video recording (LeFevre, 2004). This enables pre-service teachers to capture the complex nature of the teaching practice that occurs in a classroom. Furthermore, it allows a number of different possibilities, such as performing detailed analyses of one's own teaching practices for professional development, catching things that might not have been noticed from the first viewing, and having increased self-awareness. The use of video within pre-service teacher education has been incorporated into the practicum lessons delivered at cooperative schools (Akcan, 2010; Kuter, Altinay Gazi, & Altinay Aksal, 2012; Rosaen, Lundeberg, Cooper, Fritzen, & Terpstra, 2008; Siry & Martin, 2014) and some micro-lessons delivered at university-based methodology courses (Savas, 2012). …

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