Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, Volume 30, Issue 4 Fall 2007, p. 264-275
This study examined perspectives of field experiences among preservice teachers and their cooperating teachers because of debate in the politically charged atmosphere of No Child Left Behind regarding teacher preparation programs.
The purpose of this research study was to investigative the perspectives of preservice teachers and cooperating teachers regarding their relationships during the initial field experience of the preservice teachers.
Three major research questions addressed by this study were:
1. How do preservice teachers describe their relationship with their cooperating teachers during their initial field experience?
2. How do preservice teachers describe their roles with their cooperating teachers during their initial field experience?
3. How do cooperating teachers describe their roles with their preservice teachers during the initial field experience?
Initial interview questions were developed to address the research questions. Through the data collection period, as interviews were coded and analyzed, subsequent interview questions were developed to probe emerging themes, confirm emerging themes, and address the nature of the preservice teacher-cooperating teacher relationship.
The participants included nine pairs of preservice teachers who entering their first field experience and their respective cooperating teachers. The nine pairs of teachers were observed and interviewed over the course of a semester. Interviews, observations, and documents were open coded and analyzed to determine themes.
Data were collected through two separate interviews conducted with each participant, observations of conferences between preservice and cooperating teachers, and examinations of reflection logs completed by both preservice and cooperating teachers.
Results indicated that relationships between the pairs, based on communication and trust, were paramount to preservice teachers' development. Both preservice teachers and cooperating teachers indicated specific roles that each must engage in to maximize growth. Implications for teacher preparation programs include training of the preservice teachers, cooperating teachers, and university support staff prior to initiation of field experiences.