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How Does Practice-Based Teacher Preparation Influence Novices’ First-Year Instruction?

by Hosun Kang & Mark Windschitl - 2018

Background/Context: Teacher preparation suffers from a lack of evidence that guides the design of learning experiences to produce well-prepared beginners. An increasing number of teacher educators are experimenting with practice-embedded approaches to prepare novices for ambitious instruction. This study examines the role of core instructional practices introduced during preparatory experiences in shaping novices’ first-year teaching.

Research design: Employing a mixed-methods approach, we compare the first-year teaching of two groups of individuals with secondary science certification, one of which comprises graduates from a practice-embedded preparation program, and the other graduates from programs that did not feature practice-embedded preparation. A total of 116 science lessons taught by 41 first-year teachers were analyzed, focusing on the quality of student opportunities to learn (OTL) observed during the lessons.

Research questions: This study sought answers to two research questions: 1) What are the characteristics of students’ OTL from first-year teachers, one group of whom learned a set of core instructional practices during their preparation program and the other group of whom were not exposed to core practices? 2) Who provides opportunities for students to engage in meaningful disciplinary practices as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards, during the first year of teaching, if any? How did they create such opportunities?

Findings: Independent-sample t-tests showed that there are significant mean differences between the two groups (t=3.1~8.9; p < .001), on four metrics associated with their students’ opportunities to learn. In-depth qualitative case studies reveal two ways that core practices shape instruction in new teachers’ classrooms: (a) they support novices in formulating an actionable curricular vision as advocated by the science education community, and (b) they appear to help novices notice, attend to, and build upon students’ ideas in classrooms with the use of strategies and tools recommended by the program.

Conclusions/Recommendations: A focus on a set of strategic and intentional practices, designed to help teachers achieve rigorous and equitable learning goals, has potential as a curricular frame for teacher preparation. But the emphasis should be placed on the vision and pedagogical goals that underlie the core practices, rather than the ungrounded use of strategies or tools themselves.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 120 Number 8, 2018, p. 1-44
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22279, Date Accessed: 9/27/2021 12:34:53 AM

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About the Author
  • Hosun Kang
    University of California, Irvine
    E-mail Author
    HOSUN KANG is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Her work is centrally concerned with working with teachers in public school settings to promote powerful science learning among students from multi-racial and multi-linguistic backgrounds and low-income families. Her research interests deal with non-white students’ science identity development, effective instructional practices that facilitate powerful science learning in diverse classrooms, and designing and improving a system that promotes early career science teacher learning. She is the recipient of the 2011 AERA division-K outstanding dissertation award and the co-author of several journal articles, including “Designing, Launching, and Implementing High Quality Learning Opportunities for Students That Advance Scientific Thinking” (published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching) and “Pre-Service Teachers Learning to Plan Intellectually Challenging Tasks” (published in the Journal of Teacher Education), in which the authors unpack the dynamic, responsive, and contentious nature of planning shaped by social and professional interactions in contexts.
  • Mark Windschitl
    University of Washington
    E-mail Author
    MARK WINDSCHITL is a professor of Science Teaching and Learning at the University of Washington. His research interests deal with the early career development of science teachers—in particular their trajectories toward ambitious and equitable pedagogy. He is the recipient of the 2002 AERA Presidential Award for Best Review of Research, a member of the National Research Council Committee on Strengthening and Sustaining Teachers, and the co-author of the chapter on Science Teaching in the new AERA Handbook of Research on Teaching. The chapter in the AERA Handbook of Research on Teaching synthesized scholarship relating to rigorous and equitable teaching in science classrooms. The conclusion was that children are far more capable of disciplinary reasoning and practice than current forms of instruction can support. Studies also suggest that some of the most fundamental and common aspects of teaching have to be reconsidered for more ambitious and effective teaching to take root.
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