"Miss, can we do this again?" - Re-imagining and reworking school-university partnerships

Year: 2013

Author: Goriss-Hunter, Anitra, Burke, Jenene

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Maintaining an appropriately engaged theory-practice nexus is one of the most challenging aspects of Pre-Service Teacher (PST) education. While teacher education courses throughout Australia rely upon a range of theories to underpin their teachings and philosophies, a number of stakeholders in the education system argue that these courses do not provide opportunities for PSTs to engage in high quality practice teaching experiences. In view of this situation, this paper describes and examines an innovative partnership between the University of Ballarat and a local regional secondary school, Mount Clear College, that seeks to foster the learning of both parties. The PSTs, who had no prior formal teaching experience, were enabled to use the theoretical components of their course as well as school-derived curriculum material to construct and offer learning experiences for around 150 Year 9 students. While the PSTs gained invaluable experience in purposeful planning and  teaching, the secondary students were engaged in an array of learning experiences that complemented and extended their school-based curriculum. This whole experience enabled authentic learning to take place for secondary and university students as it also encouraged the former to consider career pathways in higher education.
The investigation reported in this presentation utilises  self-study methodology and draws on the reflections of the lecturers who developed and organised the program. The lecturers' focus on their observations of the PSTs' interactions with the secondary students as well as on the feedback given by the university students. Observations and feedback strongly indicate that both PSTs and secondary students engaged in powerful learning. For the PSTs, the program scaffolded preparations for their school placements and enabled authentic teaching activities that were strongly located at the theory-practice nexus.