In an attempt to provide alternative models of field experience in teacher education, this review study elaborates team teaching.
This review study aims to provide an overview of the recent research on this topic. First, the literature will be explored in order to search for team teaching models that can be used during field experiences in teacher education. Five electronic databases were included in the search: ERIC, FRANCIS, PsycInfo, Scopus, and Web of Science. The search terms were “team teaching”, “co-teaching”, “cooperative teaching”, “collaborative teaching” and “paired placement” combined with “teacher education”, “teacher training”, “pre-service teacher” and “student teacher”. By reading the abstracts of the retrieved manuscripts, relevant manuscripts were identified. As a result, 50 manuscripts were included in the review study. These manuscripts were read thoroughly in order to search for patterns in the results. Information on team teaching models, (dis)advantages of team teaching and conditions for implementation were coded into themes.
The study categorises the wide variety of team teaching models into five models, which differ in the degree of collaboration, i.e. the observation, coaching, assistant teaching, equal status, and teaming model. These models can act as a guide when implementing student teachers’ team teaching during field experiences.
Empirical research on student teachers’ team teaching shows its advantages and disadvantages for the student teachers, their mentors and the learners in their classroom.
The results of the empirical studies generally lie in line with each other. For student teachers, team teaching encourages emotional and professional support, dialogue about learning and teaching and professional and personal growth. A lack of compatibility between student teachers may limit the benefits of team teaching. Therefore, it may be advisable to use peer assessment. Nevertheless, collaborating with peers with different personalities, abilities, etc. can also be perceived as a learning opportunity. Moreover, in their future job, teachers have to collaborate with colleagues with different personalities, experiences, etc. as well. Similar to the lack of compatibility, the disadvantage of comparing student teachers can be considered a learning opportunity.
Concerning the value of peer feedback, research mainly is positive. In general, student teachers value peer feedback because it is specific, candid, straightforward, honest and less threatening than the feedback of the mentor and teacher educator. Despite the value of peer feedback, several studies indicated the difficulty for student teachers to provide honest and constructive peer feedback. Guiding them in providing constructive feedback, for instance through a workshop, may help them to develop these skills. With respect to mentors, the supervision of team teaching students brings along learning gains for them and may lead to increased collaboration at school.
The relationships built between mentors and team teaching students, contrasting findings have been reported also. Next to student teachers and mentors, team teaching has benefits for learners, i.e. increased support and individual attention, rich and varied lesson, and learning gains. Yet, several studies indicate that multiple student teachers in the classroom may confuse the learners.
In order to anticipate the disadvantages, the review study formulates several conditions for implementation. An important condition, mentioned in several studies, is the combination of team teaching with individual teaching in order to prepare student teachers for their future job of individual teaching. Currently, collaboration within schools gains importance, e.g. collaborating in subject specific communities. Moreover, teacher shortages may urge teachers to team teach. In this way, the experience of isolation in education can be transcended. In addition, the lack of mentors for beginning teachers may be solved by implementing student teachers’ team teaching. By offering a framework of team teaching models, indicating (dis)advantages and synthesise research-supported guidelines for the placement, preparation, mentoring, and evaluation of pair-placed student teachers, the present review study contributes to the literature on student teachers’ team teaching and may inspire teacher educators to implement team teaching during field experiences in teacher education.