Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

School

School of Education

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Graeme Lock

Second Advisor

Christina Gray

Abstract

Achieving an effective balance between the theoretical and practical components of pre-service teacher education has been a long debated issue. The quality of pre-service teacher practicum experiences vary, and are dependent on numerous variables, such as the duration of the practicum and the quality of the mentoring and provision of feedback.

This study reports on an Internship Model, which began in 2009, and its perceived impact on the quality of graduate teachers in Western Australia. As an ‘Intern Teacher’, pre-service teachers spend their final academic year working at a selected primary school, paired with a trained mentor and receive ongoing standards-based feedback. Throughout the year they participate in weekly professional development sessions.

In 2014 there are over 50 ‘Intern Graduates’ working in Western Australia who have qualified through the Internship Model and two partnering Western Australian universities. This mixed-methods study invited all principals with an Intern Graduate in their school to compare the work of Intern Graduates and non-Intern Graduates via a survey, based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. The quantitative data analysis included a binomial analysis, looking at the proportion of principals who perceive their Intern Graduate to perform at a higher or significantly higher level than one they expect from traditionally educated graduate teachers. The qualitative component of the study includes analysis from interviews with four principals in order to identify key areas of significance in relation to principals’ perceptions of graduate performance.

This thesis makes recommendations based on the study’s key findings, which show that principal participants believe Intern Graduates perform at a higher level than non-Intern Graduates. Recommendations may be of interest to the Department of Education, school leaders and tertiary institutions, and are particularly relevant in the current national climate of improving teacher quality and addressing the problems of graduate teacher retention.

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