Taking Them Into the Field: Mathematics Teacher Candidate Learning About Equity-Oriented Teaching Practices in a Mediated Field Experience
Campbell, Sara Sunshine
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Teacher education programs have been criticized as too theoretical with university courses disconnected from the practical realities of classrooms. This single case study investigates a model of teacher education that worked to bridge the coursework-fieldwork gap in teacher education. The Mediated Field Experience (MFE) is a field experience within a secondary mathematics methods course in a university-based teacher education program. Teacher candidates spent approximately one day each week observing two urban Algebra 1 classrooms that were taught by partner teachers who were implementing equity-oriented teaching practices. University methods course instructors accompanied the teacher candidates into the field and, together with the partner teachers, engaged in a cycle of planning, observing, debriefing, and reflecting. This cycle was conducted weekly for approximately seven weeks. Drawing on theoretical insights from Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, I examined how the structures and activities of the MFE supported teacher candidates in learning about equity-oriented teaching practices. Guiding questions framed this research: 1) What is the Mediated Field Experience? How do the structures and activities of the MFE draw on practitioner and academic knowledge? 2) What are the experiences of the teacher candidates within the MFE? 3) What do teacher candidates learn about equity-oriented teaching practices within the MFE? To capture these relationships, I analyzed videotape of the MFE debrief sessions, notes taken from classroom observations, post-MFE reflections completed by the teacher candidates, and interviews with teacher candidates, partner teachers, and university instructors. Results indicate that the structures and activities of the MFE positioned the partner teachers as teacher educators. This enabled the teacher candidates to draw on partner teacher knowledge as a way to learn about equity-oriented teaching practice. Teacher candidates were able to notice "invisible" aspects of classroom practices, especially practices that were interactive and responsive to student thinking. The results of this study indicate that coursework that is closely tied to and purposefully draws on teacher knowledge supports teacher candidates in reframing their ideas about teaching and learning mathematics. Partnering with and positioning teachers as teacher educators allows teacher candidates to connect the practices promoted in their teacher education programs to the realities of implementing those practices in school classrooms.
- Education - Seattle