A New Look at Preservice Teachers' Conceptions of Classroom Management and Organization: Uncovering Complexity and Dissonance

Apr. 10, 2010

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 45, Issue 2 (April 2010), pages 118-136.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines preservice teachers' conceptions of classroom organization and management in light of their training and beliefs about good teaching.

Research Questions

The authors’ guiding questions were:
What are preservice teachers' conceptions of classroom organization and management?
How do their anticipated organization and management practices align with their stated conceptions?


The participants were 42 elementary education and secondary education preservice students who were in their final master's semester of 5-year program and actively engaged in graduate field experiences in professional development schools.
Eighty-six percent of the respondents were female.
Fifty-two percent were elementary candidates, and the remaining were distributed about evenly across the various secondary subject areas.

The Students discussed their definitions and conceptions of classroom management, organization, and rule systems through an open-ended questionnaire.
Researchers analyzed responses using a grounded approach.


Findings revealed a portrait of student perceptions more complex than those in previous studies, with conceptions often changing according to the nature of the question asked.
Respondents exhibited a preoccupation with behavior management previously recognized in other studies; however, findings also revealed underlying conflicts between respondents' theoretical orientations and conceptions of management, a lack of attention to developing student independence, and a conceptual schism between organization and management.


Several implications arise out of the interpretations, which the authors believe can have a significant impact on both their pedagogy and their future research.

Findings suggest a need for teacher educators to clarify the role of management;
a need for teacher educators to clarify relationships between organization and management, and a need for teacher educators to help students to bridge specific theory-practice gaps.

Updated: Jun. 22, 2010