Using Critical Incidents and E-Portfolios to Understand the Emergent Practice of Japanese Student-Teachers of English

February 2017

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 62 ( February 2017), p. 1-9
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article aims to describe the nature of emergent practice arising from conflicts student-teachers experienced in a teaching practicum and its implications for teacher learning.

The participants were 10 student-teachers located at three secondary schools in Thailand. They were all English education majors from a Japanese university, nine were third year undergraduate students and one was a graduate student.

The authors used critical incident (CI) writing in ePortfolios as a means for student-teachers to record conflicts experienced and what was learned from them.
The student-teachers participated a 2-week teaching practicum at three Thai secondary schools recording their Critical incidents in an ePortfolio.

The authors identified new teaching principles students developed through this experience. The principles include what the student-teachers felt is important for teaching in a communicative manner.

Furthermore, the authors also identified techniques and strategies they felt helped them teach effectively at their schools. Lastly, the critical incident also gives a view into the teaching principles, strategies, and world-view which comprise student-teacher emergent practice.

The authors also regard the issue of theory to practice.
The authors have argued that none of the student-teachers mentioned any kind of teaching methodology, teaching concept, or learning concept they learned about in their university teaching methodology classes. The authors argue that if student-teachers are to relate their experiences to their university learning, they will arguably need some direction.

Finally, the authors redesign the emergent practice to provide students with more scaffolding which would help them better understand the concept of critical incidents and encourage them to use critical incidents as a means to reflect on their emergent practice.
For each critical incident, there are four subfields: category, incident, significance, and result. The categories are designed to help students link their critical incidents with the changes they wrote in the first page as well as with the skills necessary to be successful in the program. The incident is designed to help the students describe the incident that occurred.
The purpose of the significance is to help the students explain how they felt and why this incident was important. The result is designed to help the students explain, the changes to their teaching, beliefs, or world perspectives this incident brought about.

The authors conclude that through using the critical incident technique they were able to understand the nature of students' emergent practice: the new general concepts about teaching they developed as well as localized teaching techniques they employed. The critical incident also show the experiences of cognitive dissonance are not necessarily negative. The authors argue that although they were successful using the critical incident technique to analyze the students' experience on the practicum, the students themselves might have been confused about the concept of critical incidents. Furthermore, the authors were unable to bridge the theory practice divide as they originally planned. 

Updated: Apr. 22, 2018