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Tep Vol 25-N3

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Teacher Education and Practice, a peer-refereed journal, is dedicated to the encouragement and the dissemination of research and scholarship related to professional education. The journal is concerned, in the broadest sense, with teacher preparation, practice and policy issues related to the teaching profession, as well as being concerned with learning in the school setting. The journal also serves as a forum for the exchange of diverse ideas and points of view within these purposes. As a forum, the journal offers a public space in which to critically examine current discourse and practice as well as engage in generative dialogue. Alternative forms of inquiry and representation are invited, and authors from a variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives are encouraged to contribute. Teacher Education & Practice is published by Rowman & Littlefield.

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8 Articles

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Editorial: Understanding the Power of First Lessons in Learning to Teach

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PATRICK M. JENLINK

We send teachers into the classroom armed with progressive rhetoric and imbued with the constructivist spirit, but they immediately have to adapt to the realities of teaching in today’s schools: a school system characterized by bureaucracy, mandated curricula, and high stakes tests and a student body characterized by radical differences in economic, social and cultural capital.

—Labaree (2005, p. 189)

In their daily work in teaching students how to teach, teacher-educators are prisoners, on the one hand, of the regular preconditions of practice in complying to external standards . . . and, on the other hand, of trying to maintain or even construct a pedagogy of teacher education.

—Tillema and Kremer-Hayon (2005, p. 203)

Teaching is an uncertain and increasingly complex undertaking. If the act of teaching were known and constant—a prescriptive template for teaching practice, so to speak—teachers could simply follow the dictates of researched-based generalizations, and teacher educators would know exactly what teachers needed, performatively, to be successful. But such is not the case, and the act of teaching does not follow a template, nor is it known and constant. It is this singular point that speaks to the importance of understanding first lessons in learning to teach.

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The California Teaching Performance Assessment Task for Assessing Student Learning: What Do Teacher Education Candidates Really Learn?

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MICHAEL P. VERDI

MATT L. RIGGS

IRIS M. RIGGS

ABSTRACT: A group of 87 teacher certification candidates in a program at a large university in Southern California took the California Teaching Performance Assessment task for assessing learners in 2004–2005. These candidates’ tests were analyzed with qualitative research methods and their scores calculated with quantitative methods. Subsequently, three additional classes of 162, 88, and 142 students from 2005–2006, 2006–2007, and 2007–2008 took the same test, respectively, and their progress was monitored with quantitative analysis only. Results indicate that students were able to master the material on the test but had difficulty differentiating assessment of students who are English learners or who have special needs. This pattern was repeated over 3 years. Recommendations are included for improving the teacher preparation programs and for implementation of exams beneficial to program improvement.

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Preservice Teachers’ Problem Solving: A Study of Problem Identification and Engagement Style Using the LIBRE Model

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FELICIA CASTRO-VILLARREAL

NORMA S. GUERRA

ABSTRACT: In this study, we examine 122 preservice teachers’ reported problems and assessed engagement styles using the LIBRE model stick figure. Qualitative and descriptive data were gathered using (1) a qualitative problem-solving activity to identify preservice teachers’ problems and engagement preferences and (2) descriptive analyses to depict and characterize problems and engagement. We hypothesized that these preservice teachers would report problems consistent with contextual demands. We also anticipated that these students would shift their engagement style according to contextual demands and stressors. Findings suggest that most preservice teachers are able to shift their problem focus and manage problems accordingly.

Problem solving is a self-directed cognitive process that is reflective of one’s personal skills, knowledge, experience, and culture (Mayer, 1992; Mayer & Wittrock, 2006). Effective problem solving is utilized in learning (Anderson, 1993), and the metacognitive features of attention, self-reflection, goal-orientation, and sociocultural context exemplify the detailed intricacies involved in the process (Desautel, 2009). “Thinking about thinking” is that metacognitive requisite of the larger problem-solving process (Flavell, 1979), which involves the identification of task, strategy, and performance awareness (Reynolds, 1989). Plainly, this inquiry has been prompted by the renewed interest in problem solving as a necessary prerequisite for teacher success in response to diverse and complex challenges and as evidenced by the increased emphasis in teacher education training programs (Basile, Olson, & Nathenson-Mejía, 2003; Kilbane, 2008; Kleinfeld, 1992).

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Examining the Digital Portfolio Conference as Professional Development for Novice Teachers

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YOLANDA ABEL

FRANCINE W. JOHNSON

TODD GONSALVES

ABSTRACT: The master of arts in teaching (MAT) program is a 39-credit graduate program leading to initial teacher certification at the elementary or secondary level in specific content areas. The goal of the program is to provide candidates with the foundational pedagogy and knowledge base necessary to become successful teachers. The digital portfolio conference allows the candidates for graduation to demonstrate their practice and to reflect on their instructional practice. It also allows the MAT students who attend the conference to select professional development that best fits their needs based on content, grade level, and interest. This article explores how the candidates for the MAT value the portfolio conference as a means to reflect on their performance in the classroom and on suggestions for further growth.

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Determining a Model to Predict Hispanic Preservice Teachers’ Success on the Texas Examination of Educator Standards

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ZHIDONG ZHANG

JAMES TELESE

ABSTRACT: In this article, we report the regression relations between preservice teachers’ academic characteristics and their performance on the Texas Examination of Educator Standards. These academic characteristics include grade point average, reading ability, and critical thinking. The studies indicate that the critical thinking was the best predictor when in the presence of COMPASS reading score and grade point average. Two subsequent analyses were conducted using the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test score and Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal score. The results showed that reading and critical thinking ability had a positive relationship with success on a state teacher certification examination achievement. These results could be used with confidence to predict performance on the Texas Examination of Educator Standards.

The issue of teacher quality has been of interest to policymakers and researchers (Darling-Hammond, 1995, 2000; Riley, 1999). There are many challenges faced by preservice teachers. They need to be knowledgeable in one or more specific subjects and prepared to meet the needs of a diverse student population with multicultural, multilinguistic, and multiability needs (Young, Grant, Montbriand, & Therriault, 2001). Preparing teachers to meet these demands requires high-quality learning experiences based on solid theoretical principles (Young et al., 2001). Teachers are being called on to eliminate reading failure and the academic achievement gap nationwide (Young et al., 2001). This implies that teachers themselves should have a high degree of literacy skills and related domain knowledge. However, teacher literacy skills are not usually examined or considered a part of being highly qualified. This article reports on a study that examined the relationship between preservice teachers’ reading skills and critical thinking skills with their performance on a state certification examination.

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It Takes a School: Exploring the Relationship Between Professional Learning Communities and Student Achievement

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LOUIS S. NADELSON

GLEN CROFT

KIMBERLY ENNIS

EIAN HARM

KERRY MCCLAY

ROB WINSLOW

ABSTRACT: Professional learning communities (PLCs) are a widespread phenomenon in K–12 education, as they are perceived as a mechanism for enhancing teacher effectiveness and, therefore, student achievement. However, there is a dearth of empirical research on PLCs—particularly, the primary focus that the communities take, teachers’ perceptions and attitudes toward the communities, and the relationship of the community structure and student achievement. Our research addressed this gap by surveying 145 K–12 teachers engaged in PLCs. Analysis revealed that the teachers perceived a wide range of PLC foci and were for the most part positive about their involvement in the PLCs, but we failed to find a relationship between PLCs and student achievement in state-mandated standardized teaching scores. Implications, future directions for research, and limitations are discussed.

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Examining Preservice Teachers’ Applied Learning Experiences in the Teacher Education Done Differently Project

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PETER HUDSON

SUZANNE HUDSON

ABSTRACT: Reviews have criticized universities for not embedding sufficient praxis for preparing preservice teachers for the profession. The Teacher Education Done Differently project explored praxis development for preservice teachers within existing university coursework. This mixed-method investigation involved an analysis of multiple case studies with preservice teacher involvement in university programs—namely, Ed Start for Field Experiences 1 (n = 26), 3 (n = 23), and 4 (n = 12); Move It, Use It (health and physical education program; n = 38), Studies of Society and Its Environment (n = 24), and Science in Schools (n = 38). The project included preservice teachers teaching primary students at the campus site in gifted education (the B-GR8 program; n = 22). The percentage range for preservice teacher agreement of their praxis development leading up to Field Experiences 1, 3, and 4 was between 91% and 100%, with a high mean score range (4.26–5.00). Other university units had similar findings, except for Studies of Society and its Environment (percentage range, 10%–86%; M = 2.33–4.00, SD = 0.55–1.32). Qualitative data presented an understanding of the praxis development leading to the conclusion that additional applied learning experiences as lead-up days for field experiences and as avenues for exploring the teaching of specific subject areas presented opportunities for enhancing praxis.

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Utilizing Self-Assessment and Supervisors’ Assessment to Enrich Understanding of Teacher Candidates’ Performance in the Field

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LAUREN BOSWORTH MCFADDEN

ALISA HINDIN

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to add to the literature on the use of self-assessment in the preparation of teacher candidates. It focused on teacher candidates’ performance in field placements by examining self-assessments and field evaluations conducted by their supervisors. The findings indicated that utilizing various forms of assessment is essential. Consistencies and differences between supervisors’ rating and candidates’ self-assessments provided information regarding how teacher candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for teaching.

In education and psychology, self-assessment has become a prominent tool. Self-assessment can be defined as “an appraisal by an individual of his or her work or learning process” (O’Malley & Valdez Pierce, 1996, p. 240). Researchers contend that self-assessment promotes an “interactive environment” that supports learning and has the potential to increase students’ motivation for learning (Kusnic & Finley, 1993). This process is especially important for teacher candidates who must learn to constantly assess their own progress and that of their students and use this information to inform their instructional practices (Bransford, Derry, Berliner, Hammerness, & Beckett, 2005; Kusnic & Finley, 1993; Newfield, 1980; Nitko, 2004; Rolheiser & Ross, 2001; Routman, 2005). In teacher education, research on self-assessment often overlaps with research on reflection, and reflection is considered a critical part of teacher development (Bransford et al., 2005). Struyk and McCoy (1993) assert that engaging in self-assessment allows preservice teachers to identify their strengths and weakness and prioritize areas that need improvement rather than attempting unsuccessfully to tackle everything at once. The difference between reflection and self-assessment seems to be in the focus: “People use reflection when there is the expectation or desire to gain insights about themselves by reflecting, while they use self-assessment to improve future performance by identifying strengths and areas of improvement” (Desjarlais & Smith, 2011, p. 10).

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