01 SES 08 A, Joy, Agency, and Practicum in Professional Learning
Although the rationales and goals of teacher trainings differ widely between – and often within – nations and educational systems, most teacher training programs include practica in which teacher students can extend their knowledge and put it into practice in the classroom, usually under close supervision of cooperating teachers and University supervisors (Hascher & Winkler, 2017). These practica also affect student teachers’ professional identity development, shaping their understanding of their professional role, and in this process often confirming or challenging their career choice (Walkington, 2005). On these grounds, teaching practica are described as the foundation for further professional development (Ulvik, Helleve, & Smith, 2018). As meaningful practicum learning cannot be taken for granted and antagonistic experiences can influence future teachers’ intentions to stay in the profession, it is important to examine teacher students’ experiences with their practica, and to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to satisfactory learning outcomes. In many countries, professionals from other fields are increasingly being recruited to alleviate teacher shortages. In this context, the question arises whether second career preservice teachers (SCT), due to different resources and needs, experience and assess their practica differently than first career preservice teachers (FCT).
Based on the Job Demands-Resources Model (JD-R model; Bakker & Demerouti, 2007), this paper therefore addresses the questions (1) whether SCT and FCT differ in terms of practicum output, (2) to what extent social and personal resources as well as practicum demands are related to practicum output and (3) whether these relationships differ between SCT and FCT.
Two cohorts of primary school teacher education students at the University of Teacher Education Bern, Switzerland (starting in 2017 and 2018) were asked to fill in a questionnaire (response rate: 76%; N = 432). At the time of the survey, all students were in their 3rd semester and all students had completed at least one in-service teaching practicum. 36 students were excluded from further analyses because of missing values. This resulted in a sample of 396 students (253 FCT, 143 SCT; mean age = 23; 85% female). FCT as well as SCT were in a six-semester program leading to a regular teacher’s diploma; no alternative certification programs were included in the study. Participation in the study was voluntary. The study was conducted according to the ethical standards of the University. Practicum output was measured using the “practicum output” scale (“Praktikumsertrag”) from the German PaLea study (Kauper et al., 2012). Exploratory factor analysis yielded three subscales of practicum output: Satisfaction with practicum learning, career doubts and perceived theory-practice incoherence. Social resources were assessed using the social career support scale by Hirschi and Freud (2014), and personal resources were assessed using the self-efficacy scale by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1999) as well as the self-regulation ability scale by Schwarzer (2000). Practicum demands were assessed using items that were derived from earlier interviews with a subsample of the same two cohorts addressing practicum experiences. The interview data were analyzed via inductive qualitative content analysis, and the resulting categories were converted into items that the students rated according to the frequency of the experience. The exploratory factor analysis of these items yielded four types of perceived practicum demands: Challenges with role finding, cooperation, workload/effort, and classroom management.
SCT and FCT did not significantly differ in terms of practicum output, but they did differ regarding the relationships between demands, resources and practicum output. Overall, practicum demands and resources were much stronger predictors of practicum output for FCT than SCT. Regarding challenges among SCT, the only negative association was found between cooperation and satisfaction with practicum learning, while among FCT, the experience of challenges generally led to higher career doubts, with the exception of challenges with workload/effort. For FCT as well, cooperation was the demand with the most negative impact, as it was negatively related to satisfaction with practicum learning and positively associated with perceived theory-practice incoherence and career doubts. Regarding resources, self-efficacy and social career support were positively related to satisfaction with practicum learning in both groups. However, self-efficacy was negatively related to career doubts only among FCT. Similarly, self-regulation was negatively related to perceived theory-practice incoherence among FCT, but not SCT. The findings show that contrary to the assumptions of the traditional JD-R model, higher demands do not necessarily lead to a more negative output. The picture is more complex, as the relationships between demands, resources and practicum output depend on what facets of practicum output and what subgroups of teacher students we are looking at. It seems plausible that FCTs’ and SCTs’ different educational and professional biographies shape their understanding of teaching, teacher education, and their career choice, with differential effects on the way they experience their practica. This is relevant in an international context because opening up teacher education to alternative student groups, including SCT, is an international trend to combat teacher shortages. In order to investigate these relationships more closely, longitudinal data would be helpful, including qualitative data that allow for an in-depth investigation of student teachers’ resources, goals and needs regarding teaching practica.
Bakker, A. B., & Demerouti, E. (2007). The Job Demands‐Resources model: State of the art. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22(3), 309-328. doi:10.1108/02683940710733115 Hascher, T., & Winkler, A. (2017). Analyse der einphasigen Modelle der Lehrer_innenbildung in verschiedenen Ländern. [Analysis of single-phase models of teacher education in different countries.] Retrieved from https://www.gew.de/fileadmin/media/publikationen/hv/Hochschule_und_Forschung/Ausbildung_von_Lehrerinnen_und_Paedagogen/Zukunftsforum_Lehrer_innenbildung/2017-02_Analyse_Einphasige_Lebi_2017_web.pdf Hirschi, A., & Freud, P. A. (2014). Career engagement: Inverstigating intraindividual predictors of weekly fluctuations in proactive career behaviors. Career Development Quarterly, 62, 5-20. doi:10.1002/j.2161-0045.2014.00066.x Kauper, T., Retelsdorf, J., Bauer, J., Rösler, L., Möller, J., Prenzel, M., & Drechsel, B. (2012). PaLea _ Panel zum Lehramtsstudium. Skalendokumentation und Häufigkeitsauszählungen des BMBF-Projektes. 1. Welle; Herbst 2009. [PaLea _ Panel for teacher training. Scale documentation and frequencies of the BMBF project. 1st wave; fall 2009.] Retrieved from http://www.palea.uni-kiel.de/veroffentlichungen/downloads/ Schwarzer, R. & Jerusalem, M. (1999). Skalen zur Erfassung von Lehrer-und Schülermerkmalen. Dokumentation der psychometrischen Verfahren im Rahmen der Wissenschaftlichen Begleitung des Modellversuchs Selbstwirksame Schulen. [Scales to assess teacher and student characteristics. Docomentation of psychometric procedures during the scientific evaluation of the model self-efficant schools.] Retrieved from http://www.psyc.de/skalendoku.pdf Schwarzer, R. (2000). Stress, Angst und Handlungsregulation. [Stress, anxiety and action regulation.] Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Ulvik, M., Helleve, I., & Smith, K. (2018). What and how student teachers learn during their practicum as a foundation for further professional development. Professional Development in Education, 44(5), 638-649. doi:10.1080/19415257.2017.1388271 Walkington, J. (2005). Becoming a teacher: encouraging development of teacher identity through reflective practice. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 33(1), 53-64. doi:10.1080/1359866052000341124
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