Who's the expert and who's the novice? Mentoring tensions in the practicum experience

Year: 2005

Author: Keogh, Jayne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research in teacher education has identified the importance of school practicum placements for teacher professional development (Zeichner & Gore, 1990). In particular, positive interpersonal and professional relationships developed between pre-service teachers and their supervising teachers/mentors have been highlighted as crucial during the process of induction of new teachers into the profession. However, research has also identified potential and actual tensions in this relationship. Tensions may be created in that existing experienced teacher practitioners are positioned as 'experts' despite not necessarily having been exposed, or supporting contemporary schooling principles or practices, whereas their preservice student teachers may be positioned as 'novice' practitioners, despite the possible expectation that they have expertise in contemporary pedagogies. This paper documents examples of meetings between supervising teachers and their mentors to examine how such expert/novice relationships are talked into being. Conversation Analysis (CA) and Membership Categorisation Analysis (MCA) is used to interrogate the data and to highlight the tensions and analyse research participants' expectations regarding their roles and positioning practices as evidenced through this institutional talk-in-interaction.