Patterns of supervisory discourse in post-lesson practicum conferences: The Singapore experience

Year: 1994

Author: Sharpe, Leslie, Ngoh, Moo Swee, Crawford, Lachlan, Gopinathan, Saravanan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Clearly the question of what is said between supervisors and student teachers in lesson conferencing goes right to the heart of debates about the aims, structure and control of school-based training. This paper aims to contribute to this debate by presenting data on supervisory discourse collected as a part of a recent research project conducted at the National Institute of Education, Singapore. The project involved 33 preservice primary student teachers, 24 university staff and 17 school-appointed co-operating teachers.

The studies into supervisory discourse conducted by Zeichner and his associates in the United States were used as a starting point for our research. Like Zeichner, our interest is in both what is said in teaching practice conferences, and how it is said. This paper describes how Zeichner's original discourse inventory was modified to make it easier and more reliable to use, and how categories such as "critical discourse" were redefined. The use of student teacher diaries is also discussed as a way of measuring the impact of discourse on them.

In addition to this methodological discussion, a number of findings will also be presented comparing the discourse of university supervisors, co-operating teachers and student teachers in Singapore. The predominance of a "telling" style of supervisory discourse amongst Singaporean supervisors and CT's is discussed and the implications of this are explored in terms of the concept "opportunity to talk". It will be argued that an eagerness to tell closes down opportunities to talk and is in some measure responsible for the preponderance of "low- level" discourse found in this and other studies.