What and How Do Student Teachers Learn during School-Based Teacher Education

Jan. 02, 2009

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 25, Issue 1, January 2009, P. 118-127
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study looks at how student teachers learn to teach during school-based teacher education. It explores the changes that occurred in the practical theories of the student teachers and how the student teachers made these modifications.
Given the decision to define learning of student teachers as changes occurring in their practical theory, the research questions for this study are as follows:

1. what is the nature of the student teacher's practical theory and what changes occur?
This question can be specified in the following sub questions:
– Do student teachers develop in their practical theory a focus on the learning process of pupils and do they therefore pass through the stages of a beginning teacher in their development?
– Do student teachers acquire a rich practical theory by the end of their training?
– Does the structure that student teachers impose on their practical theory become clearer and more coherent?

2. what characterizes the way in which student teachers modify their practical theory?
This question is specified more closely in the following sub questions:
– Which objectives do student teachers experience in their training and how do the student teachers differ in this respect?
– How do different student teachers experience the way in which they learn to teach, and in particular the role that they see themselves playing in that process?
– Which sources do the student teachers use in the change process – in other words, how do they use their learning environment?
– Are there different stages in the way that student teachers change and, if so, what are they?


The respondents were student teachers of mathematics in the one year post-graduate teacher training programme at the University of Groningen. The group comprised all eight student teachers of mathematics (the whole cohort) who began the program in September of that specific year and who followed the same modules. During this year they were employed as a teacher, which meant that they had all the duties and responsibilities of teachers and were paid accordingly. Apart from a brief introduction to the teaching profession in previous years, the participants in the study were not prepared as part of their training for their work as teachers. The student teachers were all students who just completed their university study. Their age varied from 23 to 27 years. Two of them were female, six were male.

The study's findings show that all student teachers developed broad, well-structured practical theories that focused on pupils' learning processes. Their learning processes displayed considerable individual variation. As a result of these findings, several questions have been formulated for further research concerning the impact of learning style on learning outcomes and learning in a work-based context.

Updated: Jan. 07, 2009