Peer-to-peer: An e-mentoring approach to facilitating reflection on professional experience for novice teachers

Year: 2007

Author: McLoughlin, Catherine, Brady, Jo, Russell, Rupert, Lee, Mark

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Professional development and reflective practice are essential outcomes of the pre-service teacher education curriculum, which the field practicum component is intended to address. However, the practicum experience can be particularly intimidating for students, as for the first time in their course, they are separated from their lecturers and classmates, and are expected to apply what they have learnt within a real school setting. To support students completing their practicum placements as part of a one-year Graduate Diploma of Secondary Education, the authors devised a peer-to-peer e-mentoring framework, facilitated by a Web 2.0-based technology model that is integrated with the university's learning management system. The framework allows for student interaction and structured dialogue that can enable professional conversations and encourage reflection on practice. In addition, it allows for the establishment of an effective peer support system offering mentoring capacities such as emotional support, feedback and encouragement that can help mitigate issues related to loneliness and isolation. Data collected in the form of blog entries and podcast recordings of critical incidents created by the students while on practicum, as well as post-practicum focus group discussions, attests strongly to the relevance and effectiveness of this approach to e-mentoring.

Keywords: Peer mentoring, e-mentoring, community of practice, professional learning, pre-service teacher education, teaching practicum, Wimba Voice Board, blog, podcast.