• Three Classroom Environments and Their Effect on Teacher Candidates' Conceptions of Literacy and Community during the Practicum Semester

      Goldblatt, Eli; O'Hara, Daniel T., 1948-; Smith, Michael W. (Michael William), 1954-; Parks, Stephen, 1963- (Temple University. Libraries, 2010)
      In Practice Makes Practice: A Critical Study of Learning to Teach Deborah Britzman (2003) points out that teacher candidates enter their education programs with their own conceptions of teaching, “bring(ing) to teacher education their educational biography and some well-worn and commonsensical images of the teacher’s work” (p. 27). Similarly, teacher candidates bring their own preconceived ideas of literacy and community to their teaching as well. This study focuses on whether or not teacher candidates’ conceptions of literacy and community can change given a teacher education practicum focused on literacy and community, a community learning experience once a month, and two placements in local middle and high school classrooms. In doing so it inquires as to how each of these different classroom environments informs teacher candidates’ conceptions of literacy and community and how literacy and community is utilized in these different environments. Qualitatively and ethnographically based, the study took place at a state university in rural Pennsylvania. It focused on nine teacher candidates enrolled in a practicum course during their 16-week field experience. It utilized a card sort, surveys, e-mails, teacher candidate journals and assignments, audio taped transcripts of practicum classes and observations. All information was analyzed using constant comparison methods and journals and practicum classes were coded to identify changes over the semester and patterns in the data. The study found that teacher candidates’ conceptions of literacy and community changed over a sixteen week time period as a result of the three different environments that teacher candidates participated in during their field experience semester. Teacher candidates’ conceptions of literacy, once focused on more autonomous literacy practices, expanded to include more sociocultural, i.e. ideological literacy practices. Conceptions of community that were based on more homogeneous, relational conceptions of community grew to include more heterogeneous, geographic conceptions of community. Overall, given three environments focused on literacy and community teacher candidates’ expanded their ideas of literacy and overcame their fears of working with communities outside their own. Correlations were also uncovered relating to authority in each of the environments and the importance of teacher candidate/cooperating teacher relationship to placement success.