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Student Cohorts in Teacher Education: Support Groups or Intellectual Communities?


by Kelvin L. Seifert & David Mandzuk — 2006

Recent initiatives in preservice teacher education have experimented with cohorts as a way to create supportive ties among peers, mutual intellectual support, and a sense of professionalism. The initiatives reflect a belief in collaboration, one expressed in educational literature supporting related forms of collaboration in education, such as descriptions of learning communities and of cooperative learning in classrooms. A review of this literature suggests a number of cautions, however, about the value and success of collaboration among colleagues, and in any case does not address the needs of cohorts in teacher education directly. To begin closing this information gap, the authors studied one particular teacher education program organized around cohorts. Sixteen students in a preservice bachelor of education program were interviewed at length about their experiences with cohort peers. Their comments were analyzed for recurring themes. Overall, they expressed a liking for cohort organization, but to varying degrees. Appreciation of the cohorts was focused almost entirely on the immediate social support provided by the cohort as a whole. It had little to do with its potential for academic stimulation, long-term professional ties, or individual personal friendships. Students reported a number of factors that affected their liking for cohorts, such as their age, prior family or job responsibilities, religion, and geographic distance of their home from the university.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 7, 2006, p. 1296-1320
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12557, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 11:07:09 AM

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About the Author
  • Kelvin Seifert
    University of Manitoba
    E-mail Author
    KELVIN SEIFERT is professor of educational psychology at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His research interests include teachers’ identity development, and teachers’ and parents’ tacit theories of learning and development. Recent publications include “Learning To Feel Like a Teacher,” in the Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy (2004) and “Sociable Cognition,” in Handbook of Research on Early Childhood Education, edited by Bernard Spodek (2005).
  • David Mandzuk
    University of Manitoba
    DAVID MANDZUK is an assistant professor in educational foundations and associate dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His research interests include teacher education, middle years education, the moral dimensions of teaching, and action research. Recent articles include “Learning to Teach in Student Cohorts: A Social Capital Perspective” (with S. Hasinoff & K. Seifert) to be published in the Canadian Journal of Education and “Learning to Teach, Learning to Inquire: A Three-Year Study of Teacher Candidates’ Experiences” (with R. Schulz) to be published in Teaching and Teacher Education.
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