Source: Teacher Development, Vol. 16, No. 3, August 2012, 303–320.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The participants were experientially trained in cooperative learning approaches through modelling by their tutor for the Pedagogy and Curriculum module of the course.
The course tutor modelled cooperative learning activities and teams were established.
This study examines whether the participants felt confident implementing cooperative learning and if they thought this helped them deliver the new curriculum in Scotland, Curriculum for Excellence.
This study specifically addressed the following research questions:
(1) Were student teachers confident in engaging with cooperative learning in the classroom?
(2) What concerns did student teachers have in implementing cooperative learning?
(3) In what ways did these students engage with cooperative learning as newly qualified teachers in their induction year?
Sample and Methods
The participants were 24 student teachers trained to be geography teachers, who studied in the Post Graduate Diploma in Education at a Scottish university.
This small-scale, mixed-methods case study gathered data in three phases:
In the first phase, the student teachers answered questionnaires following their first two placements;
In second phase, data were gathered through focus groups and questionnaires to school departments.
The third phase gathered data when the student teachers had progressed to their probation year in schools.
All levels of teacher education are under review in Scotland to support teachers’ professional learning at every stage of their career.
The value of engaging in active learning during ITE through modelling and experiential learning presents the opportunity to expand teacher competence and has been identified as a positive step in a report on initial teacher education in Scotland.
The findings reveal that the capacity of student teachers to engage with cooperative learning was positive.
Furthermore, the engagement of departments with any active learning practices had a positive effect on student teachers’ confidence in delivering cooperative learning in the classroom.
Similarly if departments had started to implement Curriculum for Excellence, which not all had, the student teachers’ confidence was enhanced.
However, concerns and challenges were identified in managing behaviour and in addressing concerns over completing the curriculum, which suggests greater understanding is required and with experience this can be developed.
This study shows that as potential exposure to alternative learning and teaching approaches is variable, modelling in ITE is a positive way to engage new teachers with cooperative learning.
Although not all student teachers felt fully confident with cooperative learning they had the capacity to develop further as they progressed in their careers.
Modelling and experiential learning in ITE enabled the student teachers to assess how effective this learning and teaching approach could be in the face of negative responses from placement and Induction departments.
Finally, the student teachers stressed that they felt well prepared to deliver the different aspects of Curriculum for Excellence as a result of their engagement with cooperative learning.