Theory and Practice: The Context of Partnerships in Teacher Education
Due to more accountability for funding and demands of employers for more “work-ready” graduates, the provision of more authentic learning experiences is gaining attention in a range of professions other than teaching and raising questions about the effectiveness of university learning. The literature on Work Integrated Learning (WIL) indicates many of the issues and proposed solutions are common across disciplines and are related to funding and policy changes in the higher education sector. There are common calls for university programmes to be better integrated with authentic work-based experiences and the establishment of learning partnerships with employers to facilitate improved learning outcomes. These criticisms are evident in initial teacher education, through demands for universities to produce more “classroom ready” beginning teachers. The problem stems from the separation of the theory of teaching, as covered at university, and the practice of teaching in real classroom settings. Much of the research has suggested more effective learning for pre-service teachers can best achieved by integrating university studies with the authentic learning in schools through the practicum experience. Partnerships between university and schools have been recommended as an essential element to ensure this nexus between the theory and practice of teaching. Effective partnerships would aide in establishing and maintaining the relationships necessary to improve the quality of initial teacher education. The STEPS Project is a response of a group of science teacher educators operating in this reality who have embedded school-based learning into their primary science education units to provide their pre-service teachers with authentic science teaching experiences. WIL literature suggests the issues of authentic learning and the partnerships necessary to support it are common across many disciplines, which implies that the lessons from STEPS Project may be applicable to other curriculum areas within teacher education and to a range of other professions.
KeywordsPartnerships School-based Teacher education Theory–practice nexus
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