Developing conceptions of teaching and learning: Investigating international student experiences within a pre-service program

Year: 2019

Author: Di, Biase, Rhonda, King, Elizabeth, Kriewaldt, Jeana, Janfadi, Mahtab, Truckenbrodt, Andrea

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Globally, over the past two decades the numbers of international students have grown steadily in many OECD countries, with many students choosing to complete their teacher education qualifications, outside of their home countries. These experiences may be intensified for international students undertaking initial teacher education (ITE) courses who may encounter differing epistemologies of teaching compared to those experienced as learners in their home country. It is important to emphasise that how effective teaching is perceived is contingent upon how ‘effective’ is defined and by whom. Indeed, for students from formal, traditional systems of education, their perceptions of effective teaching may differ from those they are exposed to in their new educational setting

This study explored how a group of international students enrolled on a clinically-based Master of Teaching (MTeach) programme articulated their perceptions of teaching and learning before, during, after their pre-service programme. Data were collected through activities designed to elicit students’ ideas about teaching and learning and their underlying assumptions. These included a ranking activity, a concept mapping exercise about effective teaching, description of a good lesson and questionnaires. We collected data from 43 students in the pre-phase and from 10 students who returned to the study at the end of their program. This paper present findings from the initial data analysis undertaken across the ten students.

Our findings indicate that students themselves perceived that their understanding had changed through their studies. There is a clear rejection of rote learning and a change in the language used to explain effective teaching indicating an expanded range of pedagogical terms. This is to be expected, but interestingly this language provides a consistent link with the examples of ‘good lessons’ reported at the beginning with a more developed repertoire of terms to explain what is valued and why. There is an emphasis on student engagement and active learning and a strong value on allowing opportunity for student input and opinion. Learning is not a fixed endpoint, but rather an ongoing process. This is seen in changes in the ranking activity where students know more was replaced with a higher priority placed on students asking questions, finding answers and making sense of their learning. Based on this initial analysis of the data, students have shown consistent engagement with and valuing of the clinical teaching model, expressed through prioritising student-centred learning across data sources.