10 SES 03 C, Collaboration, Reading Literacy and Model-based Teaching
A new organization of school-based education (SBE, i.e. practicum) in Initial Teacher Education at specific practice schools in Sweden have lead to changes in given support to supervisors and student teachers. The aim of this study is to explore how supervisors and teacher students in a Mid Sweden region perceive given prerequisites for peer learning during SEB in this new organization where placing students in groups of two to six has been one of the new arrangements used.
The research questions are here specified to learning within groups of students and are:
1. What are the prerequisites and implications for peer-learning during practice in ITE?
2. What are the perceived benefits drawn from peer learning as a learning community?
3. What are the drivers and barriers for peer learning as a reciprocal phenomena?
ITE is similar to many other professions regarding apprenticeship. These learning communities are often defined as cultural practices that consist of practitioners belonging to the same area of work (Roth & Lee, 2006). What can be seen as a noticeable difference in comparison to regular apprenticeships however, is the highlighting of peer learning where fellow ITE students are to attain prerequisites to evaluate and discuss shared lessons. Teacher education programs should be attentive though of the complexity of team work and should target efforts with ITE students as to prepare them and intensify their awareness of working cooperatively (Austin, 2002; Cochran-Smith, 2011; Grangeat & Gray, 2008, Vacilotto & Cummings, 2007).
Studies show advantageous results concerning peer learning among student teachers such as empowering student teachers to become active learners in reciprocal teacher and observer situations (Driscoll, Parkes, Tilley-Lubbs, Brill & Pitts Bannister,2009; Zwart, Wubbels, Bergen, Bolhuis, 2009). To maximize the effectiveness of peer coaching however, there also needs to be formal oversight and support from the teacher education programme as to address problems such as scheduling for peer learning, inequity between ITE students and the lack of skills to provide relevant feed back (Gardner, 2007; Hsiu-Lien, 2010, Riese, 2012; Scherer, 2012 ).
Peer learning has a long history as a development procedure different from supervising in the perspective that it comprises individuals involved in equal groupings helping each other. Thus, this can implicate situations of “the blind leading the blind” or an unequal work load. it can however, instead enhance motivation, reciprocal understanding in discussions and other social benefits. This depending on given prerequisites (Topping, 2005). A similar picture is shown in the results of the first study encompassing supervisors, they lack guidance from teacher educators concerning methods as how to instruct teacher students learning together and raise concern regarding students who are unequal in input of workload.
I am currently adapting the tool which draws on general didactical questions like prerequisites for learning, who is learning from whom, in real life meetings or via IT, what is the object of learning – planning, to create a framework concerning peer learning issues. Creating learning communities for ITE students involved in collective work, is not in itself explicit to what the benefits of that cooperative work might be. Therefore teacher educators should be alert to the complexities of this collective work. (Boud, Cohen & Sampson, 2001; J. Grangeat & Gray, 2008; Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, Orphanos, 2009).
As a pilot study, supervisors in preschool are asked to elaborate concerning two issues. The first concerning pre-requisites for peer learning, whether the requisites occurred at the field school and secondly, how they could be improved. Additionally, a follow up pilot study is being conducted among ITE preschool students concerning given prerequisites, perceived benefits and drivers and barriers for peer learning.
The first study, which has been conducted, comprises questions to active mentors within SBE. In the actual Mid Sweden region approximately 30 mentors are active at the specific practice schools. Each school form has a contact person who summons to regular meetings. The choice of municipality and school form is based on earlier contacts with a contact person who also informed about the calendar for the meetings for the mentors for the term. A questionnaire concerning peer learning and practice schools was sent to the contact person for further delivery to the participants in one of the meetings. The presented questions were discussed in 9 groups of supervisors during the meeting for 50 minutes, where also one of the researchers participated. The sheets were collected by the researcher and read repeatedly, as to be able to distinguish the outcome. A follow-up study will then be conducted among ITE students in SBE education. One of the SBE coordinators for ITE students has been contacted and has forwarded e-mail addresses to 96 ITE students proceeding their third and final period of SBE education. 20 of these students are in the same Mid Sweden region as the first study with supervisors. A total of 10 ITE students that are willing to take part in the study, will interviewed. At ECER, I will share findings from these interviews. Data sources will include transcript recordings and be analyzed using content analysis with a specific focus on defining key themes around facilitating factors for peer learning.
Addressing the research questions, especially the first one (What are the pre-requisites and implications for peer learning during practice in ITE?), the conclusion of the study is that further organization is required. Teacher students are learning together, however, on a frequent basis a number of the teacher students are doing their first practice period and a number of them are doing their second. This means that they are practicing together but are working against different learning outcomes. Concerning the second research question (What are the perceived benefits drawn from peer learning as a learning community?), possibilities that arise from the supervisor respondent groups are that the students can support each other and learn from each other and that they may dare to challenge difficult tasks easier and also feel more secure by being two teacher students together. Deeper and more thorough discussions can take place when there are several participants in a group of one tutor and two students when discussing planning and learning outcomes. Further analytical work is necessary concerning ITE respondents. Regarding the third research question (What are the drivers and barriers for peer learning as a reciprocal phenomena?), findings are preliminary and further analytical work is necessary. Nonetheless, barriers that are put forward by supervisor respondent groups are inequality between students in terms of effort and being more or less outgoing which creates unevenness in learning activities as well as discussions.
Austin, A. E. (2002). Preparing the next generation of faculty. The Journal of Higher Education, 73, 94–122. Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (2001). Peer Learning in Higher Education: Learning from and with Each Other. New York: Kougan Page. Cochran-Smith, M. (2011). Does Learning to Teach Ever End? Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47(1), 22-24, Conkling, S. W., & Henry, W. (2008). Doctoral students in music and their socialization into teaching. In L. K. Thompson & M. R. Campbell (Eds.). Diverse methodologies in the study of music teaching and learning. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Driscoll, L. G., Parkes, K. A., Tilley-Lubbs, G. A., Brill, J. M., & Pitts Bannister, V. R. (2009). Navigating the lonely sea: Peer mentoring and collaboration among aspiring women scholars. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 17, 5–21 Gardner, S. K. (2007). I heard it through the grapevine: Doctoral student socialization in chemistry and history. Higher Education, 54, 723–740. Grangeat, M. & Gray, P. (2008). Teaching as a collective work: analysis, current research and implications for teacher education. Journal of education for teaching, 34(3), 177-189. Hsiu-Lien, L. (2010). Research on peer coaching preservice teacher education – A review of literature. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 748-753. Levine, Marsha. (1992). Professional Practice Schools – Linking Teacher Education and School Reform. New York: Teachers College Press. Roth, W-M. & Lee, Y-J. (2006). Contradictions in theorizing and implementing communities in education. Educational Research Review, 1, (1), 27-40. Scherer, M. (2012) A conversation with Linda Darling-Hammond. The Challenges of Supporting new teachers. Educational Leadership, 69(8), 18-23. Zwart, R. Wubbels, T. Bergen, T. Bolhuis, S. (2009). Which Characteristics of a Reciprocal Peer Coaching Context Affect Teacher Learning? Journal of Teacher Education, 60(3), 243-257. Riese, H. (2012) Peer relations in peer learning. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 25 (5), 601-624. Topping, K.J. (2005). Trends in peer learning. Educational Psychology, 25, 631–45. Vacilotto, S., & Cummings, R. (2007). Peer Coaching in TEFL/TESL Programmes. ELT Journal, 61 (2),153-160. Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX. National Staff Development
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