On the Path to Becoming a Teacher: Student Teachers’ Competency in Instructional Planning

September 2021

Source: The Teacher Educator, 56:3, 270-286

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current study is significant in the sense that it sheds light on student teachers’ experiences about instructional planning and the effect of their perceptions toward their proficiency regarding the process, which can help teacher educators reframe their courses on instructional planning and take action about providing opportunities to students teachers to cultivate certain skills.
In the light of the above-mentioned facts, the purpose of the study is to examine how the student teachers’ perceptions of instructional planning competency predict their competency in instructional planning.
The study intends to answer the following the research questions:
1. Does student teachers’ perceived proficiency predict their competency in instructional planning?
2. What are the student teachers’ views on their competency in instructional planning?


Research design
The study was carried out through explanatory mixed method design.
According to Creswell (2012), explanatory mixed method design is conducted with an aim to collect quantitative data first, analyze it and based on the results, expand on quantitative portion with the help of qualitative data collection tools.
In this vein, after completing the quantitative portion of the study, the researcher organized two focus group interviews with the same groups to elaborate on quantitative part of the current study.

Participants and setting
The participants of the quantitative portion of study included 102 student teachers, studying at three different teacher education programs of a foundation university which provides education to nearly 1000 teacher candidates with four different teacher education programs in Turkey.
For the quantitative portion of the study, convenience sampling technique (Creswell, 2012; Palinkas et al., 2015) was administered to determine the participants.
With this technique, researchers can collect data from the participants who are willing and available to be studied.
In this respect, the researcher conducted the study with a group of student teachers who were taking Instructional Methods and Principles course from the researcher.
A total of 102 student teachers participated in the study
For the qualitative portion of the study, nine of the student teachers took part in a focus group interview to share their opinions regarding instructional planning.
The study was carried out within the framework of a must course that was based on instructional planning.
Both the quantitative and qualitative portions of the study included students taking the same course and the course requirements such as unit planning or unit design standards rubric laid a solid basis for the current study.

Data collection tools
As quantitative data collection tools, The Scale for Perception of Proficiency in Instruction Planning (SPPIP) developed by Gulbahar (2016) and UbD Design Standards € Rubric developed by Wiggins and McTighe (2005) were used.
As qualitative data collection tools, unit plans and focus group interview were used.

Unit plans
These were the unit plans that student teachers prepared within backward design framework.
Each student teacher attending Instructional Methods and Principles course prepared a unit plan and developed related teaching materials in the light of the plan.
The researcher evaluated the unit plans by using Unit Design Standards Rubric.

Focus group interview
After completing quantitative data analysis, the researcher organized a focus group interview with nine student teachers to learn more about student teachers’ insights about their competency in instructional planning.
As mentioned above, the interviewees represented the whole group and the researcher aimed to expand on quantitative results and elaborate on interviewees’ views on competency in instructional planning.

Findings and discussion
The quantitative results of the study indicated that student teachers’ perceived proficiency in instructional planning explained 57% (R2 ¼ .57) of their competency in instructional planning, which showed that perceived proficiency was a significant predictor of competency in instructional planning.
Attributions toward performing an action have a significant effect on achievement outcomes (Schunk & Gunn, 1986).
Thus, creating the connection between a skill and perceived proficiency is helpful for sharpening that skill.
With this in mind, teacher education programs should mirror student teachers to see their strengths, weaknesses, and overall perceived perceptions toward various teaching skills.
Provided that student teachers are supported in the process of designing and implementing lessons, they can become more skillful in time, which, as Martin and Mulvihill (2019) emphasize, can also contribute to teacher self-efficacy and student learning.
Accomplishing this can be possible by providing student teachers with enough opportunities for instructional planning.
The content analysis regarding student teachers’ views on competency in instructional planning process demonstrated that both their strengths and weaknesses were among the factors affecting their competency.
For instance, their content knowledge such as domains of learning and a wide range of information regarding instructional methods and techniques as well as their personal characteristics such as creativity, desire to become a teacher or being productive add to their strengths.
On the other hand, factors such as failure to transfer their knowledge to planning process and lack of capabilities about planning were two of their weaknesses that affected them negatively.
In order for student teachers to put their pedagogical and content knowledge into practice, they need to come across with enough opportunities, face challenges before they start their profession, they should sharpen their skills and minimize their weaknesses.
Findings of the content analysis indicated that student teachers highlighted some aspects of learners and teachers as challenging in instructional planning process.
They believed that students’ age, developmental period, individual differences, and affective issues were very important and also not easy to consider in planning.
Secondly, they stressed the importance of the curriculum, unit plan, and the teacher’s style, adding that the objectives, the content of the lesson, the methods to be used and the teacher’s manner of organizing learning were important, but challenging determinants of instructional planning.
As Michalsky and Schechter (2018) suggest, teacher education programs can accomplish their mission by not limiting themselves to transmitting subject matter knowledge or pedagogical knowledge by using previously identified methods, but rather by encouraging student teachers to construct their own knowledge with the help of scaffolding they provide. More pointedly, teacher education programs can hone student teachers’ skills to undertake instructional planning initiatives (Lim et al., 2018).
Findings of the study also indicated that student teachers attached importance to the use of certain strategies to be successful in instructional planning.
To accomplish this, they thought that both planning and implementation should be regarded as a whole.
Chizhik and Chizhik (2018) emphasize that instructional planning is a mediator to provide a framework for instruction and assessment-related activities.
In this sense, teacher education programs should not only provide opportunities to harness planning skills, but also help them bridge the gap between theory and practice.
In teacher education, instructional planning opportunities help student teachers to see the bigger teaching system via the planning process.
To accomplish this, the courses regarding instructional planning should be designed in a way in which student teachers take the initiative to design something of their own, produce an activity and prepare a material that can be used in the classroom.
This can also help them collaboratively discover ways of successful practices and spot field-based real problems in real practices.

Chizhik, E. W., & Chizhik, A. W. (2018). Using activity theory to examine how teachers’ lesson plans meet students’ learning needs. The Teacher Educator, 53(1), 67–85.
Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Pearson Education, Inc.
Gulbahar, B. (2016). Developing the scale for perception of proficiency in instruction planning: € Validity and reliability study. Ahi Evran University Kırs¸Ehir Education Faculty Journal (KEFAD), 17(3), 699–715.
Lim, W., Son, J.-W., & Kim, D.-J. (2018). Understanding preservice teacher skills to construct lesson plans. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 16(3), 519–538.
Martin, L., & Mulvihill, T. M. (2019). Voices in education: Teacher self-efficacy in education. The Teacher Educator, 54(3), 195–205.
Michalsky, T., & Schechter, C. (2018). Teachers’ self-regulated learning lesson design: Integrating learning from problems and successes. The Teacher Educator, 53(2), 101–123.
Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2015). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 42(5), 533–544.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 

Updated: Jan. 03, 2022