Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 19, No. 4, 363–381, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to investigate mentors’ strategies that can be used to facilitate pedagogical knowledge in the mentee.
This qualitative research was conducted at a Queensland university.
The participants were 27 mentor teachers were involved in a professional development programme titled ‘Mentoring for Effective Teaching’ (MET). There were 26 women and 1 man with 18 participants aged between 30–49 years and five older than 50 years of age. Only three were between 22–29 years of age. All had mentored more than one preservice teacher previously with 24 who indicated they had mentored more than five mentees and some more than 20 mentees.
Data were collected through group discussions and a written summary consensus of the mentoring strategies.
In this study, mentors outlined strategies for developing preservice teachers’ pedagogical knowledge practices. There were several practical strategies suggested for each mentoring practice associated with pedagogical knowledge. For example, strategies for deeper learning about planning included co-planning and reflecting verbally on planning with the mentee by deliberating on the specific learning needs of students. Assessment for learning, as another example of the breadth and depth of mentoring, showed how mentors can focus on the theoretical underpinnings of assessment by analysing models of assessment designs including formative, summative, and peer and self-assessment yet also deconstruct assessment tasks where key concepts learned are analysed through criteria-referenced rubrics.
Furthermore, mentors were provided with opportunities to discuss practices outside the pedagogical knowledge framework but no other practices were suggested; however strategies suggested tended to fit within the existing practices.
The pedagogical knowledge practices used in the framework for this study are interconnected empirically and statistically. Hence, planning for teaching is connected to timetabling, preparation, classroom management, assessment and so forth.
The suggested strategies do not rely solely on one mentor. Although many of these strategies included reflecting on the pedagogical knowledge practices with mentees, they included input from other teaching staff (e.g. moderation meetings across year levels and discussing with other teaching professionals).
It was clear that school students were at the centre of these pragmatic mentoring strategies, as each pedagogical knowledge practice had varied strategies that focused on students.
In conclusion the experienced mentors in this study presented strategies that can be used by mentors to facilitate mentees’ development of pedagogical practices. It appears that mentors need to have a repertoire of pedagogical knowledge strategies that they can draw upon to guide the preservice teacher’s development. Mentors and mentees must discuss pedagogical knowledge practices to ensure they are on the same page for the mentee’s development of effective practices. A differentiated mentoring curriculum would be flexible with a vision and clear aims for achieving state and national teaching standards appropriate to the mentee’s level of proximal development.