Pre-service Teacher Research: An Early Acculturation into a Research Disposition

Feb. 03, 2012

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 38, No. 1, February 2012, 21–36.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines pre-service teacher research in a nine-month teacher education programme, implemented as a means of making explicit links between research and practice.
The questions guiding this study were:
(1) What are student teachers’ perceptions of pre-service teacher research given the programme-wide emphasis?
(2) What are potential barriers to pre-service teacher research when implemented as aprogramme-wide focus (compared with implemented in a stand-alone course)?


The participants in this study were 69 student teachers accepted into a primary/ junior consecutive Bachelor of Education programme in a Canadian university.
In this group there were eight males and 61 females.

During the first term of a programme-long seminar course, the student teachers learn the mechanics of conducting research (e.g. ethical reviews, developing proposals, literature reviews, qualitative and quantitative methods, analysis and dissemination) and work towards developing a research question.

The student teachers are required to explore potential questions with their associate teacher and collaborate to develop and refine questions that might be mutually beneficial to the associate teacher and the host classroom or school.
The engagement of the associate teacher in the pre-service teacher research builds community capacity among the student teachers, the practicum site and university faculty.
In addition, associate teachers also receive support from the university faculty regarding the pre-service teacher research process.

Data sources and analysis
Data collection included three sources:
(1) a written response to a weekly mandatory ‘reflective’ question related to pre-service teacher research,
(2) a 33-item end-of-programme evaluation survey, of which nine questions were directly related to pre-service teacher research, and
(3) one 60-minute focus group, again directly related to pre-service teacher research.


Results from this mixed methods study show that pre-service teacher research is a promising method of early acculturation.
Although student teachers expressed significant concerns about having to develop a research question, they conferred with and developed questions in conjunction with their associate teachers.
However, they also indicated that support from the associate teacher presented a significant challenge.
The student teachers raised interesting concerns related to associate teachers that have received limited attention in the existing research.
Namely, some associate teachers were reported to have difficulty with the research process because of a perception of being watched.

Furthermore, pre-service teachers raising questions about their own questions was an important sign of critical alignment.
These students seemed to have been acculturated into the research disposition.
However, understanding a research disposition to be integral to teaching proved to be a significant conceptual challenge amongst some of the pre-service teachers and associate teachers.
Almost 34% of the students stated explicitly that research and teaching were incompatible.
In addition, 36% of the students shared their view that engaging in/with research was negatively associated with learning to teach.

Finally, the student teachers also indicated that there was a lack of support from principals, even in the form of keeping staff informed about the pre-service teacher research emphasis of this teacher education programme.


The authors conclude that pre-service teacher research has the potential to have important influences on the ways in which classroom practitioners come to view links between practice and research, and to foster communities of inquiry and critical alignment.
However, principals need to have the opportunity for greater involvement as ‘research leaders’ in pre-service teacher research and in order to model the importance of a research disposition.

Updated: Mar. 26, 2014