Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

The practicum as a site for student teacher learning: do the participants share understandings as to how this occurs?

Keywords: student teacher learning; communities of learners

Author: Doctor Mavis Haigh (Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland)

When beginning teachers are questioned as to the effectiveness of different components of their initial teacher preparation programme for preparing them to teach, the practicum is frequently identified as the most significant part of the programme. This paper draws on data generated during a study that explored the practicum as a site for learning to be a techer. In this study primary teacher education students, their associate teachers and their university-based visiting lecturers were interviewed regarding their perceptions of what the students learnt, how they learnt and what enabled or hindered this learning. Two case studies are presented to demonstrate how understandings of how and what student teachers' learning on the practicum might be shared, or not shared, between the three participants in the experience.

The role of the practicum in initial professional learning is often taken for granted rather than critiqued. This paper presents an analysis of rich data regarding two student teachers' practicum experience in order to highlight the challenges that can occur. It also attempts to identify ways that learning during the practicum can be maximised so that practice becomes learning. Main audience: researchers, practitioners.

Date: Wednesday 23 January 2008, 4.00-4.30

Venue: Carrick One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).