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Out-of-Field Assignments: Case Studies of Two Beginning Teachers

by Cathy Ringstaff & Judith Haymore Sandholtz - 2002

Reports profiling America's teachers are drawing increased attention to concerns about teachers' subject-matter preparation and out-of-field assignments. In this article, we focus on two 1st-year high school teachers who graduated from the same teacher preparation program in the same year. One is credentialed in the subject area, and the other is not. Using comparative case methodology, we investigate and contrast how the teachers taught a unit on Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row. We analyze their teaching using Shulman's (1987) model of pedagogical reasoning, which divides the overall instructional process into components. We initially describe their teaching without clarifying which teacher is credentialed and which is not. After revealing the out-of-field teacher, we examine other factors that contribute to the differences in these two teachers. In a subsequent section, we argue that out-of-field teaching is a more complex issue than it appears and identify factors contributing to the complexity. We propose conceptualizing out-of-field teaching, as well as teaching assignments generally, as a matter of goodness of fit to take into account the relationship among teacher characteristics, contextual characteristics, and teaching placements.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 4, 2002, p. 812-841
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10894, Date Accessed: 7/25/2021 9:26:41 AM

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About the Author
  • Cathy Ringstaff
    E-mail Author
    CATHY RINGSTAFF is a senior research associate at WestEd in San Francisco, California. Her research interests include standards-based reform, whole-school change, and technology in education. She is coauthor, with Judith Haymore Sandholtz and David Dwyer, of Teaching with Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms (Teachers College Press).
  • Judith Sandholtz
    University of California, Riverside
    E-mail Author
    JUDITH HAYMORE SANDHOLTZ is an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Riverside where she formerly directed the Comprehensive Teacher Education Institute. Her research focuses on teacher professional development, teacher education, school/university partnerships, and technology in education. Recent publications include ‘‘Inservice Training or Professional Development: Contrasting Opportunities in a School/University Partnership’’ in Teaching and Teacher Education and ‘‘The Substantive and Symbolic Consequences of a District’s Standards-Based Curriculum’’ in the American Educational Research Journal.
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