Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 33, No. 1,
February 2010, 65–77.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
Current models of initial teacher training (ITT) in England include substantial elements of school-based experience developed in collaborative partnerships with local schools involving university tutors working with experienced classroom teachers.
This paper, using a case study approach, focuses on a small-scale research project in which mentor and trainee dialogue is examined.
Activity theory analysis was chosen as the methodological framework to be used to identify actions and changes in the organisation of teacher-education partnerships which sought to increase focus on pedagogical content knowledge as part of day-to-day reflection on trainees’ development in the school.
At the centre of training processes in schools is regular observation of trainee teachers by mentors, followed by de-briefing and other weekly meetings where overall progress is discussed, advice offered, targets set, and so on. The authors used the data from such meetings to exemplify the problem the authors present and discuss in this article. The project worked with a non-purposive sample of two trainees in each of two subject areas, secondary science and design and technology.
The evidence from these case studies demonstrates clearly that tensions exist within these two partnerships: between the interface of the higher education and school based elements of this particular initial teacher education programme.
In this paper, the authors have found that cultural historical activity theory has helped them explore the problem of integrating the dualism of theory/academic knowledge into the professional preparation of teachers. At the heart of this study is the breakdown of the partnership between school and higher education institution.
The authors conclude that the initial development and use of cultural historical activity theory has proved useful as a tool in identifying contradictions that exist within the existing case study activity system.