Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 64(1), January/February 2013, p. 60-74.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study explored how the initial concerns of preservice teachers changed over the course of a 1-year secondary school teacher training program in New Zealand.
It also examined those concerns as they related to teaching efficacy and experiences on practicum.
The participants were 85 students in a Graduate Diploma of Teaching in Secondary Education Program in New Zealand.
Before beginning the program and after each of two practica, participants completed the Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale (short form) and the Concerns About Teaching Scale.
Focus groups were conducted after each survey administration.
The findings reveal that students develop a more differentiated set of concerns about teaching as they gain classroom experience and their concerns become more realistic with that experience.
For example, the results showed that concerns about teaching evolved over the year of training from a somewhat simplistic “concerned/not concerned” structure to a three factor differentiation.
In addition, concerns about teaching decreased over time, in particular following the second practicum.
For example, preservice teachers in the final focus group still had concerns; however, they had an understanding of what they did not know and where the gaps had been in their training.
They acknowledged that they would need assistance from more practiced professionals as they started teaching.
The results also indicated that teaching efficacy and teaching concerns are not identical or interchangeable but instead have a reciprocal relationship.
As teaching efficacy increased, concerns about teaching decreased.
The authors argue that many teacher educators in New Zealand see a disconnect between best practice in preparing teacher education students and recent changes in government policy concerning a variety of issues impinging on initial teacher preparation.
The authors claim that policy changes in New Zealand point to increasing pressure in terms of accountability.
Furthermore, an examination of teacher education models around the world may help teacher educators in New Zealand and in other countries to avoid potential pitfalls and adapt those effective practices.
Finally, the authors conclude with some recommendations that cut across international differences in initial teacher education.
First, teacher educators can work toward mediating some of the concerns associated with first teaching experiences by providing experiences in classrooms early in their programs, continuing that exposure at regular intervals and in different types of classrooms.
Second, they can optimize the potential for their students’ success by maintaining open dialogues with them over the course of their training.
Third, they and associate teachers need to provide opportunities to create, give, and mark assessment for learning and assessment of learning.