The Seminar Course in Teacher Education: Perspectives of Teachers and Students

Mar. 08, 2016

Dr. Revital Heimann is the head of the research authority at David Yellin Academic College of Education and at Michlala Jerusalem College, Israel .

Dr. Esther (Sayag) Cohen received her PhD. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is a senior lecturer and head of the Special Education Department at Kaye Academic College of Education.

Dr. Irit Haskel-Shaham is the head of the Department of Hebrew Language at David Yellin Academic College of Education and head of the Writing Program at the School of Professional Development at the MOFET Institute, Israel.

Dr. Hanna Kurland received her PhD. from the University of Haifa. She is currently head of the Program for Educational Leadership and a lecturer in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel.

The research

The seminar course, taught in all academic institutions, is the highlight of the B.Ed. studies program and one in which academic writing plays an essential role. This course is different from other courses because of the extensive teacher involvement in the processes of writing and research. The uniqueness of the seminar course is the need to include subject matter content, inquiry methods, and writing skills in its teaching.

Many teachers expressed difficulties with the proper apportionment of instruction on subject matter, writing process, and research methods, as well as how to guide students through the writing process, and how and what to assess. This led the authors to look into these issues and investigate them thoroughly.

The authors examined teachers' beliefs and actions concerning the teaching of the seminar course in colleges of education in Israel. As regards the students, they examined self-efficacy, knowledge of the writing process, and the contribution of the seminar course to their writing product.

To test the research questions, they interviewed 26 teachers from six colleges and had 164 students complete a self-efficacy questionnaire, both prior to and after participating in the seminar course.

Data were collected via three research tools developed for the study: an interview conducted with teachers, a Lickert questionnaire on self-efficacy, and an open questionnaire regarding knowledge about writing administered to students.


Main Findings

The findings show the lack of a unified method of teaching the seminar course. Analysis of teachers' statements revealed six different perceptions concerning the purpose of the course. However, the common belief of most teachers stated that the seminar work affords an opportunity to combine theory and practice in the field.

Results also show strong teacher involvement in the pre-writing stage, for instance, in generating ideas and motivating students to explore and write evidenced-based papers. Most teachers favor creative and reflective thinking at the expense of academic writing conventions.

Furthermore, significant correlations were found between students' self-efficacy in academic writing on the one hand and writing ability and overcoming the obstacles to writing on the other.

Conclusions and Recommendations

This research demonstrates that teachers attribute different purposes and functions to the seminar course, leading to varying structures and emphases. These perceptions are also reflected in teachers' involvement in the writing process.

Teachers help strengthen students' self-efficacy, mostly through individual feedback from teachers and peers, resulting in an improvement in students' learning processes and products.

The seminar course is complicated and challenging for both students and teachers. It is important to reduce the sense of loneliness expressed by many. Institutions would benefit from the creation of forums wherein teachers can discuss and share their knowledge of teaching the course and guide students through the writing process.

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Updated: Mar. 08, 2016