Pre-service english language teachers’ learning experiences and perceptions during their first practicum
CitationTekiner Tolu, A. & Nural, S. (March 10, 2019). Pre-service english language teachers’ learning experiences and perceptions during their first practicum. Conference - American Association For Applied Linguistics - (AAAL ). Sheraton Atlanta. [ United States]
Practicum is one of the most important components of pre-service teacher education programs (Price, 1987). To better design the curriculum of the practicum and ensure the utmost growth, this study examined in depth the experiences and perceptions of the pre-service English language teachers during their first practicum. In the study setting, the undergraduate program stands out as unique and innovative because it includes practicum in four semesters beginning with two days per week in the 3rd year and three days in the 4th year. Therefore, a qualitative case study was conducted with the 15 interns in their first practicum. For participant triangulation, 15 mentor teachers and 3 university supervisors participated in the study as well. The data were collected via online open-ended pre and post-questionnaires, students’ weekly journals and reflective reports, and focus-group interview. The data were analyzed through content analysis and constant comparison method by identifying key terms and creating themes and categories (Creswell, 1998). To increase trustworthiness, in addition to member checking, two researchers analyzed the data, compared their results, and a total interrater agreement was achieved (Leech & Onwuegbuzie, 2007). The findings reveal a very complex and multifaceted experience for the interns leading to growth with certain aspects to be worked on for improvement. The study signifies that the interns mainly focused on generic dimensions of pedagogy rather than those related to the specifics of language teaching. Findings also unearth their perceptions about the demands of the teaching profession in general, managing stress, increase in self-efficacy, learning about doing critical classroom observation, having a sense of collegiality, and revising career plans. Based on these findings, we believe that it is necessary to bring the particulars of classroom-based language teaching to the interns’ attention by providing them with structured classroom observation checklists and guidelines for reflections.