Challenging Notions of a 'Good Practicum'

Challenging Notions of a 'Good Practicum'

This is a past event

Dr David Johnson will present as part of the School of Education Research Seminar Series.


There is now world-wide agreement that the teaching practice elements of Initial Teacher Education programmes, often subsumed in the term ‘practicum’, are both necessary and significant in terms of student teacher learning and development. As part of the so-called ‘practice turn’ (Mattsson et al, 2011), there have been attempts from different national perspectives to characterise what makes a successful placement environment for students at this early point in their journey towards fully registered teacher status. For example, both Beck and Kosnick (Canada) and Ulvick and Smith (Norway) have explored the key components of a ‘good placement’, while Torrez and Krebs (New Mexico) have attempted to characterise ‘quality student teaching placements’. While these studies have all extended the knowledge base around the teaching placement aspect of early professional development, one danger in this kind of approach is that it essentialises the contribution of the practicum as something that exists separate from the student teachers themselves who participate in it. This paper explores a rich data set, involving interviews and digital self-recordings with students and staff supporting them, concluding that student teachers make significant contributions to the nature of their own placement experiences and ultimately to their own support and mentoring. This line of thought in turn leads to a consideration of the kinds of research methodology that might enable a richer, more complex and situated perspective on teaching practice within ITE. Making use of socio-cultural theoretical ideas from Barbara Rogoff and Emirbayer and Mische, the paper focuses on ‘persons-in-context’ as the unit of analysis and explores the very different experiences of two student teachers in the same Secondary English departments.

Dr David Johnston
MR310 MacRobert Building