"Where is the Best Field Placement? Exploring the Relationship Between Field Placement Classroom Settings and Novices' Learning of Complex Practices"
AERA 2018 Annual Meeting: “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education”
April 13-17, 2018
Title: Where is the Best Field Placement? Exploring the Relationship Between Field Placement Classroom Settings and Novices' Learning of Complex Practices
Authors: Hosun Kang, Yongyin Zhu
This study explores how novices’ development of complex practices and discourses of teaching is related to the characteristics of field placement classroom settings, specifically in relation to mentor teachers’ practices. We ask:
1. Whether and to what extent do mentor teachers’ modeling of the program-advocated practices relate to novices’ progress toward complex practices?
2. Whether and to what extent are the characteristics of settings measured by three dimensions of mentoring practices related to novices’ progress toward complex practices?
Grounded in sociocultural and situative perspectives on learning (Greeno, 2006; Lave & Wenger, 1991), we conceptualize that novices’ learning of complex practices and discourses of teaching is shaped by three inter-related experiences (Author & other, under review). Those are the opportunity to: (a) experiment deliberate practices to elicit and build upon students’ diverse sense-making repertoires (DSR), (b) see students’ DSR as scientifically meaningful and pedagogically generative, and (c) make sense of the processes and outcomes of novices’ own experimentation with knowledgeable instructional mentor. Mentor teacher’s practices in classrooms shape each of three aspects of novices’ OTL. In this study, we attend to three aspects of mentoring practices to characterize field placement classroom settings: (a) supportiveness that enables novices to take a risk and try new things, (b) modeling complex practices that make students’ DSR visible to novices, and (c) providing feedback that helps novices to make sense of classroom situation.
Employing qualitative multiple case study approach (Yin, 2015), thirty-five candidates’ cases are analyzed with respect to: (a) the characteristics of field placement classroom setting measured by the three aspects of mentoring, and (b) novices’ practices and discourses. Guided by the two research questions, we examine the relationship between field placement classroom setting and novice teachers’ practices and discourses.
Data were collected from five cohorts of candidates from two institutions (n=35 candidates). Data included: (a) individual interviews with candidates, mentor teachers, and course instructors, survey log, and (b) teaching episodes produced by candidates (e.g., teaching video, plan and reports, samples of student work, etc).
Less than 10% of candidates perceived that their mentor teacher modeled the complex practices advocated by the program. Mentor teachers’ modeling of the complex practices advocated by the program was unrelated to novices’ development of complex practices (RQ1). Notably, novices more likely showed the evidence of developing complex practices and practices of teaching in the settings where mentor’s supportiveness & feedback showed relatively higher scores (RQ2). In the full paper, we will provide both a “best” & “worst” scenario cases but show unanticipated results. Together, we unpack the complex interaction between settings and novices’ learning to teach.
This study challenges the prevalent deficit discourse toward the mentor teachers who do not model the desired practices advocated by the teacher education community. We argue for re-framing the question from “identifying” or “selecting” the best mentor or best field placement to “making” professional learning spaces through careful and strategic coordination between university and field experiences.