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Ways in which theory and practice are integrated in the pre-service teacher education practicum

conference contribution
posted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by Jeanne Allen
This paper reports on a study into pre-service teachers’ perceptions about their professional development during practicum. The study examined to what extent, and how effectively, one group of pre-service teachers was able to integrate theory and practice during a three-week practicum in the first year of their degree. Data for this mixed methods study were drawn from one cohort of first-year students undertaking the Master of Teaching (MTeach), a graduate-level entry program in the Faculty of Education at an urban Australian university. Although there is a strong field of literature around the practicum in pre-service teacher education, there has been a limited focus on how pre-service teachers themselves perceive their development during this learning period. Further, despite widespread and longstanding acknowledgement of the “gap” between theory and practice in teacher education, there is still more to learn about how well the practicum enables an integration of these two dimensions of teacher preparation. In presenting three major findings of the study, this paper goes some way in addressing these shortcomings in the literature. First, opportunities to integrate theory and practice were varied, with many participants reporting supervision and scheduling issues as impacting on their capacity to effectively enact theory in practice. Second, participants’ privileging of theory over practice, identified previously in the literature as commonly characteristic of the pre-service teacher, was found in this study to be particularly prevalent during practicum. Third, participants overwhelmingly supported the notion of linking university coursework assessment to the practicum as a means of bridging the gap between, on the one hand, the university and the school and, on the other hand, theory and practice. The discussion and consideration of findings such as those reported in this paper are pertinent and timely, given the ratification of both the National Professional Standards for Teachers and the Initial Teacher Education Program Standards by the Australian Federal Government earlier this year. Within a number of the seven Professional Standards, graduate teachers are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills associated with both the theory and practice of teaching and with their effective integration in the classroom. To be nationally accredited, pre-service teacher education programs must provide evidence of enabling pre-service teachers to acquire such knowledge and skills.



Australian Association for Research in Education International Research in Education. Annual Conference (2011 : Hobart, Tasmania)


1 - 1


Australian Association for Research in Education


Hobart, Tas.

Place of publication

Canberra, A. C. T.

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Publication classification

E2.1 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed


J Wright

Title of proceedings

AARE 2011: Researching across boundaries : Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2011 annual conference

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