Enhancing the Capabilities of Associate Teachers in the Practicum: A New Zealand Case Study

  • Alison SewellEmail author
  • Sally Hansen
  • Kama Weir


The practicum is critically important in initial teacher education. Yet too often, student-teachers are placed in schools where the associate teacher does not understand the mentoring component of their supervisory role. This study explores the impact of a school-university project on the associate teachers’ mentoring in the practicum and in their leadership roles in the school. A qualitative case study approach was used to investigate these impacts. Data were collected using focus group discussions. Evidence of the impact of the pilot project include: (i) more explicit modelling of and reflection on pedagogical practices, (ii) enhanced relationships with student-teachers, (iii) increased professional learning for wider school roles and (iv) closer university and school relationships. Arguments are proposed that justify these positive findings and recommendations discussed for the design of programmes to enhance mentoring in the practicum that promote student-teachers’ professional learning.


Initial teacher education Professional learning Associate teachers Mentoring 



We would like to thank the ATs and senior school leaders for their willingness to talk about their learning and mentoring practice changes having participated in the LAT pilot project. We would also like to express our gratitude to Mr Allister Smith, former Principal, for his guidance and oversight of the project in his role as University School Liaison Coordinator. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the funding provided by the University Strategic Innovation Initiative.


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Copyright information

© New Zealand Association for Research in Education 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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