When Theory Meets Practice: What Student Teachers Learn from Guided Reflection on their Own Classroom Discourse

Aug. 15, 2007

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 23, Issue 6, August 2007, Pages 957-969

Drawing on extant theorizing and research on reflective teaching, this paper discusses the impact of an innovative methods course designed around the activity of student teachers’ reflections on their own classroom discourse, for their understandings of the connections between theory and practice. Situated in the context of foreign language pre-service teacher education in Israel, and focusing on one aspect of a larger research study on the connections that student teachers make between theory and practice, this paper presents three exemplary cases of student teachers’ learning.

The connections exhibited by these three student teachers between theory (principles of pedagogy) and practice (the classroom discourse patterns that characterized their teaching) were interpreted as: (1) understanding how practice fits theory; (2) connecting theory and practice to generate grounded theories of practice; and (3) developing practical theories. We discuss these findings as related to the idiosyncratic character of students teachers’ learning and to activities in teacher education that enhance reflection on the meeting between theory and practice.

Updated: Jul. 30, 2008