Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 35, No. 2, May 2012, 163–178.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article has tried to describe the general perceptions of student teachers regarding four major dimensions of their teaching practice:
(i) learning and supervision;
(ii) professional and institutional socialisation;
(iii) emotional and physical impact; and
(iv) career aspects.
The participants were 295 student teachers, attending art graduate courses or graduate courses in science.
The perspective of the student teachers was assessed by the short form of the Inventory of Experiences and Perceptions of the Teaching Practice (Caires, Almeida, and Martins 2010), which is a 28-item instrument focused on four dimensions of their teaching practice.
The findings reveal that the participants perceive teaching practice is perceived as a particularly stressful and demanding period, which involves considerable amounts of distress, changes in psycho-physiological patterns and an increasing sense of weariness and ‘vulnerability’.
Despite these difficulties, data also reveal student teachers’ positive perceptions regarding their growing knowledge and skilfulness, their increasing sense of efficacy, flexibility and spontaneity in their performance and interactions, as well as the awareness of having achieved reasonable levels of acceptance and recognition amongst the school community.
The findings also emphasise the important role of the supervisor figure.
In this study, the positive assessment of their supervisors’ performance (e.g., emotional support, modelling and/or logistical and technical back up) also helps to explain the positive perceptions of the achievements and progress occurred during teaching practice.
Supervision is, in fact, a privileged setting for the sharing of, reflection about and discussion around the phenomenological aspects of teaching practice.
The sharing of experiences with their supervisors and other student teachers, the joint exploration of the beliefs, perceptions and affects involved in teaching practice and/or the joint construction of meanings can all represent a significant opportunity for self-exploration ,exploration of the teaching profession, mutual knowledge and the strengthening of complicity relationships amongst student teachers, their supervisors and colleagues.
Finally, it is also important to emphasise the differences found in the way these student teachers experienced teaching practice according to their gender and graduate course background.
The data reveal gender differences in the psychological and emotional impact of the teaching practice: female students reported higher levels of tiredness, stress and weariness
With reference to graduate course background this study found that arts students perceived themselves as more confident regarding their skills and knowledge as future teachers as well as more satisfied with their supervision process, when compared to their science counterparts.
Caires, S., L.S. Almeida, and C. Martins. 2010a. The socio-emotional experiences of student
teachers: A case of reality-shock? The Journal of Educational Research 103: 17–27.