Practicum placements in schools are keystone features of preservice teacher education, yet inconsistencies in their nature and quality are pervasive. This phenomenon was explored in two cultural contexts, with a focus on ‘belonging’, which the literature reveals may impact practicums and commitment to the profession. Interviews were conducted with six primary school preservice teachers in Australia and Scotland, about their lived experience of belonging/non-belonging during practicum. Hermeneutic phenomenological analysis revealed four themes in both cultural contexts: 1. Being welcomed; 2. Settings and procedures; 3. Interpersonal interactions; and, 4. Strategic behaviours. This study indicates belonging as crucial to preservice teachers’ cognition, wellbeing and learning during practicums, with ‘non-belonging’ inhibiting their development. Preservice teacher and mentor preparedness for practicums is highlighted, alongside challenges for initial teacher education programs and schools in addressing the fundamental need to foster a sense of belonging for preservice teachers during this crucial aspect of their teacher preparation.
& Pendergast, D.
Preservice Teachers’ Sense of Belonging During Practicum Placements.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 45(11).