How do preservice teachers learn from early field experiences?
Olson, Jennifer Wray
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This longitudinal study followed a cohort of preservice teachers in a teacher education program, at a large southeastern university, as they progressed through three semesters of early field experiences. The purpose of this research was to understand how they learned to teach as they negotiated early field experiences. The theoretical perspectives of John Dewey (1938) and Deborah Britzman (1991) guided the understanding of experience and learning to teach. Narrative inquiry (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000) informed the data collection processes and writing of the research text. The researcher began the study in the role of instructor for the cohort in their initial course for the program. Data were collected over three semesters from the whole cohort. Data were also collected from five focus participants through participant observations and interviews over two semesters. Narratives compose a large part of the research text. Each narrative from a differing perspective provides rich description of the multiple contexts of their learning to teach. The researcher developed a new framework for understanding how preservice teachers learn to teach in their early field experiences and brings forward assertions about early field experiences for teacher educators to consider while planning teacher education programs.