Effect of Contextual Characteristics of Teaching Practice Schools on Student Teachers' Performance in Kenya

By Tabot, Benedicta Aiyobei; Mottanya, Charles Nyandusi | Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Effect of Contextual Characteristics of Teaching Practice Schools on Student Teachers' Performance in Kenya


Tabot, Benedicta Aiyobei, Mottanya, Charles Nyandusi, Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies


Abstract

This paper explores the teaching practice school context characteristics and how they influence the student teachers' performance. The sample consisted of 190 Fourth Year B. Ed students, from Moi University Main Campus and Chepkoilel Campus, selected using stratified random sampling technique based on the four Degree programmes offered in the Faculty of Education. Data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedules, and a document analysis of student teachers' assessment records from the Teaching Practice Co-ordinator at Moi University. It was analysed using the SPSS computer program and presented using descriptive statistics. It emerged that the teaching practice school characteristics of school administration, the pupils, the teachers and the learning resources affected the way teacher interns performed their duties in the schools and there was a relationship between the grades they scored for their internship and those identified factors. As such, it was recommended that school factors such as the availability and quality of teachers, the learning resources and facilities and the class sizes should be seriously taken into consideration when posting the student teachers. The findings can help create awareness on the part of the teacher training institutions on how different school contexts influence student teachers' performance and help them in establishing a better strategy of posting student teachers.

Keywords: contextual characteristics, teaching practice schools, student teachers, performance, Kenya

INTRODUCTION

Teacher training forms the backbone of the success of any educational system. The role of teaching practice in quality training of teachers cannot be overemphasized. The purpose of teaching practice is to equip the student teachers with a field experience to enable them to put theory into practice and familiarize themselves with the conditions under which they will work as trained professionals. During teaching practice, student teachers are posted to different schools. It is in the schools that the student teachers develop various professional skills under the guidance of the cooperating teachers and the university supervisors, hence the importance of the placement schools. However, in all cases of teaching practice, the schools differ. This difference is noticeable in pupil-teacher relationship, pupil activities, pupil academic orientation, and discipline, learning facilities and resources, and administration. This may affect the development and delivery of services by the student teachers positively or negatively. Moreover, teacher education has not paid enough attention to the relationship of school context and teacher development. Student teachers are expected to perform equally well in the acquisition of professional skills in different teaching practice schools irrespective of their contexts. Yet, it has been observed that student teachers do not receive support and guidance in the placement schools (Groenenewegen, as cited in Karanja, 1996).

The context of field experiences has also been noted to have a strong influence on teacher socialization. Field experiences have been criticized for merely socializing the novice in the existing school environment (McIntyre, 1996). Musvosvi (1998) states that in a school, there is the concept of socialization whereby the new teachers are initiated into the school culture by the old teachers. He notes that sometimes, the new teacher may abandon what he/she learnt in the preservice course. "Are student-teachers exceptional?" is a question that one is bound to ask. So far to the best of the authors' knowledge, no empirical evidence exists in Kenya to show the perceptions of student teachers and university supervisors on the influence of the school context on student teachers' performance. It is, therefore, important to find out whether or not the practical experience provided to student teachers in different school contexts provides them with equal opportunity to put theory into practice and enables them to acquire the necessary skills required of a professional teacher. …

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