Researching practice as a teacher educator

Year: 2004

Author: Garbett, Dawn

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The starting point for this Doctoral project was to examine student teachers’ responses to the introduction of a collaborative assessment task intended to encourage peer teaching and motivation and to increase understanding of teaching and learning subject content knowledge in science. The research reported will include student evaluations of the pilot study carried out in 2003 which highlighted that the students felt that they had little time or preparation for working collaboratively in the science course. Their response to the assessment task (a theory and pedagogy content test), where their final grade was dependent on others in their group, will be reported.

Preliminary findings from a questionnaire to ascertain background information about the 2004 cohort of Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Primary) students’ perception of their subject confidence and competence across all subject areas will be given. It appears from an initial analysis that regardless of each student’s background knowledge they self-report relatively high levels of confidence and competence to teach at primary level. Another finding was their overwhelmingly positive attitude towards teaching all subjects. This information was reported back to the cohort for comment and formed the basis of the introduction to the science education module.

Details of how the science course has been adjusted in 2004 to address the issues raised in the pilot study will be presented. Students have been asked to give feedback about the changes as they have been implemented and this has been variable. Students have also been asked to critique both their lecturer’s and peers’ teaching and their own learning. The tensions that the assessment strategy and emphasis on peer teaching has created for the lecturing staff will be discussed. Lecturers involved in teaching on this course will have been interviewed at the outset and conclusion of the course. By encouraging the students to be more actively engaged in teaching and learning with their peers, the lecturer’s role has been re-positioned. The lecturer has attempted to capture the challenges and scenarios in weekly, post-session, journal entries. At the conclusion of the course students have volunteered to be interviewed and to be part of focus groups. In all, much rich data is being gathered which will be the focus of this Doctoral project.