Improving the Quality of Practicum Learning
Tom Russell, Andrea Martin and project partners Shawn Bullock (UOIT), David Dillon (McGill), and Lynn Thomas (Sherbrooke) have been awarded a SSHRC Standard Research Grant ($192,000, 2011-14) for their project entitled: Improving the Quality of Practicum Learning: Case Studies of Four Canadian Teacher Education Programs.
This qualitative 3-year study will investigate the potential of transformative interventions by associate teachers and university supervisors during practicum experiences. Central to this research is the identification of participants’ assumptions and beliefs about their learning and their abilities to express that learning in more effective practices.
Data will be collected in four teacher education programs (two 1-year programs in Ontario, two 4-year programs in Québec — one English, one French). The interventions will foster candidates’ metacognitive awareness of their assumptions and of the links between assumptions and professional practice. The study will develop case studies of practicum learning experiences (including barriers, tensions and limitations) as well as the effects of strategies to promote transformative learning.
By using four sites in two provinces, the study will compare and contrast the different elements present in each program and the different approaches required to incorporate changes for improved teacher education. This will allow the researchers to draw more generalized, data-driven conclusions about ways to re-envision the professional learning that occurs in the major practicum component of teacher education.