See Teacher Draw: Exploring Preservice Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching. (On-Going Topics)

By Coughlin, Mimi | Academic Exchange Quarterly, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

See Teacher Draw: Exploring Preservice Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching. (On-Going Topics)


Coughlin, Mimi, Academic Exchange Quarterly


Abstract

This study asked preservice teachers to draw "a teacher at work" before and after their initial field experience. These drawings provide rich data about the evolving images that preservice teachers use to make meaning of complex classroom cultures and their perceptions of the teacher within these settings. These drawings also provide interpretive access to the changing attitudes and beliefs of preservice teachers about the nature of teaching and learning during their initial socialization into the profession. We suggest that drawings be more widely used by teacher educators, school-based mentors, university-based supervisors, and placement coordinators to understand the evolution of preservice teachers' thinking and to foster reflection and inquiry.

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Recent research on preservice teacher education has emphasized the importance of reflection in the development of new teachers (Ducharme & Ducharme, 1996). At the same time calls have been made for further qualitative and interpretive research into the developmental processes of becoming a teacher (Britzman, 1991; Ducharme & Agne, 1982). Toward these ends, this study used drawings and the written descriptions that accompanied them to gain insight into how prospective educators understand and depict teaching. Drawings provide a simple but evocative technique to literally see the images that may guide preservice teachers' interpretations and expectations of classroom teaching. Drawings also provide a vehicle for reflection on the ways in which prior educational experiences and current field placements influence the thinking of preservice teachers about the nature of teaching.

We build on the work of Weber & Mitchell (1995) and others by using preservice teachers' drawings of themselves in relation to their teaching practice to better understand how they perceive the role of teacher. For this study we asked preservice teachers to draw "a teacher at work" before and after their initial field experience. These drawings provide rich data about the evolving images that preservice teachers use to make meaning of complex classroom cultures and their perceptions of the teacher within these settings. Drawings also provide interpretive access to the changing attitudes and beliefs of preservice teachers about the nature of teaching and learning during their initial socialization into the profession.

This study addressed the following questions: How do preservice teachers perceive the role of teacher prior to their initial field placement? In what ways does participating in classroom settings as preservice teachers alter their notions of the role of a teacher? What is the usefulness of drawings as a method of eliciting and documenting changing perceptions of preservice teachers before and after their initial field placement experience?

Theoretical Background

For over one hundred years, children's drawings have engaged a diverse audience of psychologists (Arnheim, 1969; Goodenough, 1926; Piaget & Inhelder, 1969), educators (Britt, 1974; Thompson, 1994), and art historians (Perez, 1993). Children's drawings have been used predominantly in the field of psychology -- namely studying children's intelligence and emotional and cognitive development (Golomb, 1992). Recent studies have used children's drawings to illuminate classroom ecology and to prompt teacher reflection on classroom practices (Haney, Russell, Gulek, &Goldberg, 1995). Additional studies using students' drawings are Black (1991), who investigated college student's writing, and Weber and Mitchell (1995), who studied images of teachers. Drawings made by preservice teachers have also been used as a tool to represent classroom cultures and practices (Fischman & Pruyn, 1999; Jorg, Swennen, & Korthagen, 1999; Sack, 1997).

In the literature on preservice teacher development, many researchers agree that students entering a preservice education program are not blank slates (Jorg, Swennen, & Korthagen, 1999). …

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