Becoming a Teacher Primary Student Teachers as Learners and Teachers of History, Geography and Science Dr. Susan Pike Lecturer in Education St. Patrick’s College Dublin 9 Susan.Pike@spd.dcu.ie
Authors Dr Fionnuala Waldron (St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra) Dr Susan Pike (St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra) Mr Richard Greenwood (Stranmillis University College) Dr Cliona Murphy (St. Patrick’s College) Ms Geraldine O’Connor (Church of Ireland College of Education) Dr Anne Dolan (Mary Immaculate College) Dr Karen Kerr (Queen’s University Belfast)
Culmination of a four year longitudinal study of undergraduate primary student teachers in the seven colleges of education on the island of Ireland. • Student teachers’ attitudes towards and perceptions of the three subject areas of history, geography and science on entry to and exit from initial teacher education. • Prior learning experiences of student teachers and their engagement with school placements and curriculum studies over the course of their ITE. • Concepts of good teachers held by the students on entry to and exit from their BEd programmes to examine their emergent identities as teachers.
Overview of study Lewin 1946 paper Action Research and Minority Problems ‘a comparative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action and research leading to social action’ ‘spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action’ Susan Pike, St. Patrick’s College, Dublin
Overview of study Aims and Features Investigate the experiences of ITE students before and during their courses in geography, history and science education patterns of the impact of experiences subsequent attitudes to the subjects attitudes to the importance of the subjects liking of the subjects models of ‘good’ teachers for each of the subjects Longitudinal 3 years in the RoI colleges and 4 years in the NI colleges.
This benchmark study surveyed all students who entered BEd programmes in Ireland in 2004 in the following colleges: St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin Froebel College, Dublin Coláiste Mhuire, Dublin Stranmillis University College, Belfast St Mary’s University College, Belfast
Overview of study • Research Tools • Phase 1 • Short and long response questionnaire • Background information • Experiences of subjects at school • Attitudes to subjects • Models of good teachers • September 2004 (all colleges)
Overview of study • Research Tools • Phase 2 • Foucs group interviews • Background information • Experiences of subjects at college and on TP • Attitudes to subjects • Models of good teachers • May 2006 (RoI) • May 2007 (NI)
Overview of study • Research Tools • Phase 3 • Short and long response questionnaire • Background information • Experiences of subjects at college and on TP • Attitudes to subjects • Models of good teachers • September 2007 (RoI) • September 2008 (NI)
Liking of subjects While there were some differences between the two cohorts, the majority of students from both RoI and NI colleges held positive attitudes towards history, geography and science at the entry and exit stages. There was evidence that their liking of the subjects increased during their ITE programmes. Confidence to teach subjects While reported levels of confidence varied across the two cohorts, the majority of students who participated in the study indicated that they felt confident about teaching history, geography and science on entry to and on exit from ITE. During their ITE courses the students reported increased feelings of confidence in all three subjects.
Perceived importance of the subjects The majority of students maintained history, geography and science were important subjects for children to learn in primary schools. Higher levels of importance for the subjects were expressed at the exit stage. Based on their responses in both the entry and the exit questionnaires, it was apparent that the NI students felt science was more important when compared to RoI students. RoI students, on the other hand, maintained history and geography were more important than their counterparts in NI.
Positive and negative prior experiences • interesting and enthusiastic teachers • active and participatory learning approaches • fieldwork in geography • Geography emerged as the subject with the most positive only comments • + students enjoyment of fieldwork • - focused on the requirements to memorise physical features and textbook-based teaching. • NI • boredom and complexity about each of the subjects • RoI • more negative comments regarding the use of text books, their experiences of reading and of memorisation of facts
School Placements – Positive Experiences Vast majority of students gave positive comments in relation to history, geography and science Interaction and pupils’ engagement with particular topics and methodologies what was taught and how the subjects were taught School Placements – Negative Experiences Students’ negative experiences provided many examples of students reflecting critically on their own practice problems with children’s behaviour and on difficulties finding or getting access to resources Concern about the different and sometimes contradictoryexpectations of class teachers and college supervisors
Concepts of the Good Teacher What is the good teacher like? Personal and interpersonal characteristics e.g. need to be interesting, creative and imaginative exit and exit) Range of professional characteristics of the good teacher around knowledge, preparation and competency in teaching skills (more in exit) Professional competency e.g. planning, using resources and being knowledgeable about subject matter (more in exit) Teachers would be enthusiastic about and interested in each of the subjects (entry and exit) ‘Risk taking’ emerging concept / stronger presence associated with creativity and innovation and with not being afraid to do fieldwork or conduct experiments.
What does the good teacher do? Students were already positively disposed towards ideas such as active and participatory approaches to teaching and learning Students’ apparent commitment to interactive approaches was associated in many cases with a perception of geography as problematic. Active and /or integrated approaches as a way of making geography more interesting and enjoyable less apparent amongst the responses from the exit cohort where greater emphasis was placed on geographical enquiry!
Overview of study • Quantitative Data: Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) • Qualitative Data: Microsoft Excel database – coding constant comparative method (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). • Key variables • subject • gender • north/south location • certified levels of knowledge • Analysis • Positive and negative experiences • Models of good teacher • Constant comparative method • Confidence and concerns • Thematically
What makes a good teacher of geography? ‘Some hands-on activities always make the classes more interesting. Teachers must be willing to do some background research for each class and not just from the text book.’Entry Questionnaire‘…the teacher should become familiar with their students' locality. They should also try and use relevant and interactive resources for all children and levels. The teacher should bring the class 'outside' the classroom.’Exit Questionnaire • What is the good teacher like? • Teacher characteristics/qualities • What does the good teacher do? • Teaching environment • Methodologies • What is this subject like?
What is the good teacher like? • Personal & Interpersonal Characteristics • ‘interesting’ ‘fun’ ‘patient’ ‘creative’ • Professional Characteristics • ‘competent’ ‘good at planning’ ‘good communicator’ • Subject-based dispositions • ‘interested’ ‘knowledgeable’ ‘well-travelled’
On entry Personal & interpersonal (7%) Creativity (‘imaginative’ ‘creative’ ‘inventive’…) Interpersonal (‘approachable’ ‘good listener’ ‘patient’ ‘understanding’…) Attractive personality (‘interesting’ ‘upbeat’ ‘funny’…) Dynamism (‘active’ ‘motivated’ ‘vibrant’ ‘lively’…) On exit Personal & interpersonal (9%) Creativity (‘imaginative’ ‘creative’ ‘inventive’ ‘innovative’ ‘can think outside the box’…) 6% (2%) Interpersonal (‘compassionate’ ‘patient’ ‘encouraging’…) Attractive personality (‘interesting’ ‘fun’ ‘positive’…) Dynamism (‘dynamic’ ‘adventurous’ ‘motivated’ ‘energetic’…) Thinking style (‘enquiring mind’ ‘open mind’…)
On entry Professional characteristics (11%) Competent (good at ‘explaining’, ‘presenting’, ‘communicating’, ‘teaching’, experienced…) Organised ( ‘organise’, ‘cope with hands-on’, ‘organise facilities’...) Prepared (‘plans interesting lessons’, ‘gathers resources’ ‘interesting resources’…) Dispositions (‘committed’, ‘puts work into lessons’ ‘dedicated’…) On exit Professional characteristics (31%) Competent (‘competent’ ‘efficient’ ‘understands curriculum’…) Organised (‘good organiser’, ‘able to organise groupwork’, ‘able to manage mess in classroom’…) Prepared(‘good at planning’, ‘able to plan varied lessons’ ‘find interesting resources’ ‘can plan thematically’…) Dispositions (‘willing to try new approaches’, ‘makes an effort’, ‘confident’…)
What is the good teacher of geography like? On entry Subject-based dispositions & skills (30%) Knowledge, understanding & skills Attitudes towards (‘enthusiastic’ ‘interested in’ ‘passionate’ ‘positive about’ ‘enjoy’, ‘not afraid to get out and about’…) Cultural competence (‘well-travelled’, ‘wide experience of world’) Environmental awareness (‘cares about environment’, ‘ecocentric’) On exit Subject-based dispositions & skills (40%) Knowledge, understanding & skills 20% (11%) Attitudes towards (‘enthusiasm’, ‘interest’, ‘enjoys fieldwork’…) 17% (16%) Cultural competence (‘personal knowledge of different places and cultures’, ‘open to different beliefs and cultures’…) 2% (1%) Environmental awareness (‘cares for earth’, ‘sympathetic to environment’…)
What is the good teacher of geography like? Teacher of geography as ‘risk-taker’ Across all three categories • Creativity & innovation • Willingness to try new methods • Not to be afraid of fieldwork Already identified on entry • Knowledge of subject • Dispositions towards subject • Professional competence Changing emphasis • Professional competence • More emphasis on knowledge • Some disposition towards ‘risk-taking’ & creativity Cultural competence? Environmental awareness?
What makes a good geography teacher? What does the good teacher do? Begins with the child Enables learning Motivates Emerging models Teacher as facilitator Teacher as professional Teacher as geographer/historian/scientist Teacher as risk-taker ‘Ability to link with other subjects and with the child's own life. Organised, resourceful. To not be afraid to take kids out into the environment. A good knowledge of the locality.’ ‘Confident in teaching it. Allows the children some ownership of the lessons - does not dominate the lesson, actively engages the children. Not afraid to try out new and fun methodologies that make learning more interesting. Engages the children in plenty of group work.’
Funding Standing Committee of Teacher Education North and South St. Patrick’s College Mary Immaculate College Available http://www.spd.dcu.ie/MAIN/news/BecomingaTeacher.shtml