Fostering Preservice Teachers Development: Engagement in Practice and Learning
Given the benefits associated with authentic field experiences (Edwards, 1996; McMahan, Malone, Fredrickson, & Dunlap, 2015; Siwatu, 2011 ), it is not uncommon to include early field experiences prior to student teaching as a way to engage university students with teaching diverse students in an authentic school setting. This study explored preservice teachers perceptions of their pedagogical growth and development as an aspiring teacher in a structured field experience placement prior to student teaching. Data was analyzed using qualitative techniques and revealed three main themes. The following themes reflected preservice teachers perceptions of their growth: viewing through a prescriptive lens, valuing the collaborative experience, and fostering self-awareness. While preservice teachers valued the collaborative experience, they expressed a superficial level of pedagogical learning and their thinking reflected a narrow scope from a prescriptive lens. Our findings suggest a need for teacher educators to help preservice teachers develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of teaching during their initial experiences of learning to teach in authentic settings.