Learning to Teach: Enhancing Pre-Service Teachers' Awareness of The Complexity of Teaching-Learning Processes

Feb. 27, 2009

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 15, No. 1, 87–107. February 2009.

Three key difficulties are frequently reported as reducing the effectiveness of teacher education programs: the construction of an integrated body of knowledge about teaching, the application of theories to practice, and the development of a cognitive lens for analyzing teaching–learning processes.

To deal with these problems, the authors designed one semester-long intervention course for pre-service teachers, based on an Internet site, including video-recorded authentic classroom literature teaching situations, transcripts of these lessons, interviews with school teachers and various experts in the field, and diverse tasks.

The pre-service teachers analyzed the episodes in depth, performed the required tasks, and participated in group and whole-class discussions.

The authors considered the following research questions:
During their interpretation of a teaching–learning episode after experiencing the intervention course
(1) Do pre-service teachers apply a greater number of professional concepts and theories?

(2) What types of teacher knowledge do pre-service teachers apply?
(3) Do they apply a cognitive lens?
(4) Have they learnt to analyze classroom episodes systematically?


The participants comprised 21 women university undergraduates majoring in the
Department of Literature (aged 23–36 years), currently enrolled in their last year of the teacher education program in the Department of Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Haifa, Israel. The intervention course was a compulsory course in the program.

The data comprised pre- and post-analyses of an episode and mid-semester tasks, carried out by the pre-service teachers. The authors describe the context and the course procedure and discuss them in light of relevant pedagogies.

An analysis of the data revealed the pre-service teachers’ learning processes as they unfolded along the course: growing awareness of the complexity of classroom teaching, ability to base the analysis of the episodes on theories, and the initial construction of a cognitive lens to view classroom processes holistically.
This was manifested in a shift from using lay theories to relating to academic theories, from the application of few concepts and theories while interpreting situations to the application of many relevant ones, from reporting discrete items and activities to reports based on a holistic, situated view, and from descriptions composed of non-cognitive, behaviorrelated statements to descriptions based on a cognitive view of classroom occurrences.

The study has important implications for teacher education.

Updated: Apr. 23, 2009