Elementary preservice teachers' perceptions of the value of their field-based teaching experiences in their preparation for the achieved status of classroom teacher
Hines, Jean Price
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Field-based experiences are a significant component of teacher education programs as they afforded practical opportunities for preservice teachers active involvement in the teaching profession. The current study investigated the perceptions elementary preservice teachers have of how field-based teaching experiences help prepare them for the status of classroom teacher. Insights surfaced that will assist teacher educators as the value of fieldbased teaching experiences is evaluated. The interpretation and analysis of data were guided by role theory, specifically role expectation. Interpretivism guided the methods used as it allows not only for an explanation of what was observed but an understanding of the meaning of what was shared by the participants. This study went beyond what was observable to penetrate into elementary presavice teachers' perceptions of their field-based teaching experiences and the role set of classroom teacher. The study took place during a fall semester in several area classrooms with data being collected from 51 preservice teachers using a variety of data collection methods such as open-ended questionnaires, group debriefing sessions, and individual interviews. Data analysis began in the field using a constant comparative method (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). Once all data were collected, they were organized into manageable blocks for analysis. Validity, member checking, and relevance were research criteria for judging the worth of the study (Hammersley, 1990). This study led to a more comprehensive understanding of preservice teachers' perceptions of the benefits of field-based experiences. The preservice teachers shared their appreciation for their involvement in field-based experiences as the experiences helped build their self-confidence, afforded them a better understanding of student diversity, and gave them an opportunity to work with certified teachers. The most enlightaiing insight came with an understanding of their perception of the classroom teacher as a caregiver. Other roles, as they perceived them, were classroom manager, educator, and role model. This study is significant as it provides insights for professional development opportunities and will assist designers of teacher education programs as they restructure field-based experiences. Finally, the study added to the literature on field-based experiences, can be used comparatively with similar studies, and encourages future research.