This study examines what students in three different university teacher education programs report having learned from the range of influences encountered during their studies and related field experiences.
The participants were 19 teacher candidates, who were enrolled in the teacher education programs in their U.S. state namesake universities. They also participated in a study of their language arts instruction, six from the Southwestern University elementary education program, six from the Southwestern University secondary English education program, and seven from the Southeastern secondary English education program.
The authors conducted interviews between the end of coursework and the beginning of student teaching.
The findings demonstrate that although the three programs different structures and processes have different structures and processes, the participants reported very similar learning, yet with variations following from their program structures.
In addition, the findings reveal that the participants' developing conception of teaching is influenced by a number of factors. One of these factors is the teacher education program. Moreover, the various factors surrounding the participants also are influenced by and influence one another.
The findings also suggest that teacher candidates make sense of the various influential factors in different ways.
Moreover, the impact of each factor surrounding the participants varies over time—with some factors being more or less salient at different points.
Based on the findings, the authors suggest teacher education programs would benefit from incorporating multiple opportunities for teacher candidates to reflect on their previous school experiences in light of their teacher education coursework and field-based experiences.
They argue that teacher educators might structure pedagogy and program organization around the diversity of school and life experiences that teacher candidates bring with them into teacher education.
They also suggest that teacher educators’ methods of preparing novice teachers should complement the diverse range of experiences that are informing their conceptions of how to teach.
The authors conclude that teacher candidate's developing conception of effective instruction is mediated by their previous experiences in schools as students, the structure of their teacher education program, their cultural and social backgrounds, their various field-based experiences, and the students, teachers, and faculty involved in teacher preparation.