Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

Abstract

Teacher educators worldwide are seeking ways to develop stronger links with schools, to improve the quality of initial teacher preparation. In this study the researcher investigated a residency approach to initial teacher education (ITE) in a one-year Graduate Diploma of Education course designed to prepare primary school teachers at a university in Western Australia. A mixed methods inquiry approach was employed to examine the nature and quality of the professional learning experiences of the pre-service teacher participants.

The Teacher Residency Program (TRP) was based on a medical residency model, with residents given a semester-length placement in two schools. Each placement provided a continuous two-day per week placement and concluded with a five-week fulltime block teaching experience. University course work complemented the in-school practical experience during each of the placement periods. The researcher used concurrent nested research design with quantitative data embedded in the qualitative data to explore the professional learning of the residents; Specifically, the researcher sought evidence of perspective transformation in the residents’ learning process, and a determination of how particular elements of the TRP supported or hindered residents’ professional development.

The findings indicate that the residents perceived their professional learning as one of continuous growth. The data confirm that the TRP provided a professionally oriented study of teaching that provided time and opportunity for cumulative learning from both course work and practical teaching. Through the lens of a transformative learning paradigm, the study found that individual development in the TRP varies considerably. Further the residents experienced perspective transformation relating to a range of aspects about learning to teach. The process of transforming perspectives about teaching and learning was multidimensional, individualistic and contextually dependent. Elements of the TRP that assisted residents’ professional development were the concurrent university course work integrated with extended clinical school placement; the opportunities for continuous two-day per week school placement; the block practicum and the two different school placement learning experiences. Aspects that appeared to hinder residents’ professional development were related to the quantity and quality of the university course work offered; the discrepancies that the residents experienced between what they studied about teaching and what they experienced in schools; differences between mentor teachers, and the length of the course. The findings of this study have implications relevant to other ITE programs for improving the learning outcomes of pre-service teachers.

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