Source: The Teacher Educator, 46(2):126–144, 2011
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study examined preservice secondary science teachers’ perceptions of the classroom learning environment as experienced during their practicum.
The study also compared this classroom learning environment to their espoused views of an ideal science classroom.
The study employed a mixed-methods approach focusing on collecting both quantitative and qualitative data concurrently.
Data were collected through an open-ended questionnaire as well as an adapted version of a science CLES survey.
The participants were twenty-two preservice teachers enrolled to secondary science methods courses in a university in Canada.
Most the participants were female.
All participants had an undergraduate degree in science, with 12 of the preservice science teachers having a graduate degree.
The preservice teachers described their ideal classroom environment where students are viewed as partners in the learning process and where personal meaning and teacher-student negotiation of experiences are highlighted (i.e., a constructivist learning environment).
However, the findings revealed that the majority of the preservice teachers do not see their practicum placements as supportive of their ideal perceptions of a constructivist teaching environments.
The qualitative findings are corroborated by some of the results from the CLES scales, suggesting that preservice teachers perceived their practicum classrooms to incorporate only a few of the constructivist learning environment factors.
Overall, the critical constructivist perspective underpinning the CLES scales was not present in the practicum classrooms.
In addition, most preservice teachers suggested a more coherent, less controlling, and supportive role by the cooperating teacher with respect to planning teaching activities.
Most preservice teachers also believed that their practicum should be a flexible apprenticeship, where science teaching innovation was supported.
The authors conclude that preservice teachers cited reasons which prevented them from creating an ideal learning environment during their practicum teaching experience.
These issues included cooperating teacher subjugation, availability of teacher resources, time constraints, and the need to address mandated curriculum standards.