Investigating international students' evolving conceptions of teaching and learning in an initial teacher education program

Year: 2017

Author: Di Biase, Rhonda, Janfadi, Mahtab, King, Elizabeth, Reid, Catherine, Kriewaldt, Jeana

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Globally, many students are choosing to complete their teacher education qualifications, outside of their home countries. In Australia, where education is a major export, the number of international students is rising. This mobility affords the intersection of local and global sources of knowledge with international students bringing an array of knowledge and experiences which interacts with the local education context. For international students, who may be exposed to new ways of learning, such changes in pedagogical approaches can be acutely felt (Schweisfurth, 2013). Moreover, when students complete their initial teacher education in a new country, they may be required to adopt new and different approaches to teaching and learning. In this context of global mobility, this qualitative study investigated how international students, enrolled in clinically-based Master of Teaching program in Australia, articulated their understanding of teaching and learning before and during the pre-service program. To better understand the documented challenge of international students during their teaching placement, this research addresses the issue of pedagogical renewal. It is particularly pertinent for those from formal, traditional systems of education who are asked to implement new practices which may be quite different to ones they experienced as learners (Schweisfurth, 2013). In doing so it can assist in identifying support strategies for international students, as they reconcile differences in approach. International students, drawn from early childhood, primary and secondary programs, participated in the study. Data were collected through two phases over one year. The initial phase was collected at the beginning of the year, to document students' ideas about teaching and learning prior to the course commencing. After each teaching placement, further data were collected using questionnaires, focused on participants' experiences in observing and teaching classes. Additional data will be collected as students' progress through the program. Preliminary findings revealed that participants experienced disequilibrium between their initial conceptions of teaching and learning and the expectations within their placement settings. This research has helped identify students' specific needs in teaching in unfamiliar settings. Within the clinically-based program, this research provides insights into the adaptations participants reported, where the focus is on teaching that is responsive to individual student needs in contrast to the transmission models of teaching.