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close this bookFace-to-face Initial Teacher Education Degree Programme at the University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (CIE, 2002, 57 p.)
close this folderChapter 6: Conceptions of Being a Teacher
View the document(introduction...)
View the document6.1 Models of Teaching and Learning
View the document6.2 Effectiveness of their training in the teacher education curriculum
View the document6.3 Aspirations and Expectations


Another form of evaluating the teacher curriculum could be to examine the conceptions of teaching/learning and the teacher that students had learnt at the end of their teacher preparation programme. The Likert type items of the student questionnaire captures students' ranking of these conceptions. The items also allow students to review the effectiveness of their training, the attitudes towards becoming or being a teacher and what their aspirations and expectations were at the end of their training process.

6.1 Models of Teaching and Learning

An overall positive image emerges from the responses indicating the students' internalised view of what and how committed professional teachers behave and conduct themselves. Over 70% of the students reported that it was necessary for teachers to spend sufficient time in preparing and planning for their lessons. Over 80% expressed confidence that they would be able to use innovative teaching methods that they had learnt when they practised as future teachers. 72% of the students indicated that they were competent in designing teaching aids for the classroom.

Over 90% of the respondents indicated that learners learn best when working in small groups. 84% of the students disagreed that pupils learn better from listening to the teacher rather than from asking questions. Whilst they agreed with interactive learning 60% indicated that they saw the need for teachers to "teach learners the facts that they needed to know". The overall impression created by reviewing these responses is that the student teachers had learnt a sophisticated understanding of learner and learning centered education.

85% of the student teachers indicated that they would be able to intervene in improving the academic performance of low achieving pupils.

An important division of student opinion is noted when it comes to the use of corporal punishment. 50% indicated that caning was not necessary for maintaining discipline in the classroom. This suggests that 50% believe that caning is a necessary disciplinary measure, however 70% indicated that it was not useful for helping children learn better. Their preference to use caning is related to the need to secure a disciplined environment, and not necessarily as a means to improve children's learning. This suggests further that the teachers are preoccupied with the overall ethos of the school environment being well organised through discipline: within which learners can realise their potential. The use of corporal punishment as a cultural practice is revealed repeatedly in case study life histories of student teachers (Samuel: 1998), where parents usually encourage teachers to use caning as a means of getting children to focus on their studies. The practice of caning is widely sanctioned by communities and parents, despite its being legally outlawed.

Student teachers appear to have imbibed the notions of reflective practice in relation to their teaching practice. Over 90% of the students indicated that they had consciously reflected on the lessons they had taught with a view to looking at how it could be improved. This high percentage might have a lot to do with the requirements of the Teaching Practice course which expects students to keep daily records of school activities in a reflective journal. Whilst this journal in the beginning is seen as a burdensome responsibility, the students within a short space of time come to value it as a tool to engage with during supervision sessions with visiting supervising lecturers (Samuel: 1998).

This suggests that student teachers emerge out of the programme believing that teaching is an ongoing developmental process, capable of being reviewed and renewed through individual and group reflection. This is confirmed also by the high ratings that students attach to the role of their peers ("buddy teachers"), the mentor teachers and the university-supervising lecturers.

6.2 Effectiveness of their training in the teacher education curriculum

92% of the student teachers indicated that they felt ready to start their career as teachers. However 50% also indicated that in order to be a good teacher, one has to continue to train to become more effective. 86% of the students indicated that good teachers also need to be trained. This suggests that the student teachers believe that "teachers are not born teachers, but are made to become teachers". 60% disagreed with the statement the "teachers are born, not made".

66% of the students agreed that they had learnt more from experienced teachers than from their teacher education degree. Over 80% rated the support they received from the class teachers (mentor) and other teachers in the school as being very useful. Watching experienced teachers was also highly rated. This all suggests that a large part of the learning to become a teacher is developed during the on-site school-based teaching practice.

6.3 Aspirations and Expectations

Despite the gloomy career image that teaching profession holds for students (refer to the general public's negative image of teaching described in the opening pages of this paper), and that the climate of rationalising (cutting down) the teaching force prevails, 54% of the students indicated that they would be teaching within the next 5 years. 61% were confident that this would be the case. This suggests that students are interested in continuing with teaching as a career. Only 1% of the students indicated that they do not want to teach after their completion of their training course. 28% also indicated that they intended to continue studying for higher qualifications.

It is interesting to note that of the 60% of the student population who come from rural areas, only 22% would like to go back to teach in the rural schools. Data from a separate study (Samuel: 1998) indicated divergent reasons for this:

· the perceived lack of support that qualified novice teachers receive from usually lower- or under-qualified resident staff in the rural areas;

· the university trained novice teachers are usually perceived as a threat to the "stablilised culture" of rural schooling;

· the novice university-trained teacher is usually afforded higher status within such rural schools, thus displacing traditional hierarchies of dominantly college-trained graduates;

· the perceived "modern town values" are seen as a threat to "traditional values" which dominate in the rural area; and

· the unwillingness of an urban-based graduate who has imbibed cultural practices of urban living finds it difficult to adjust to rural living again.

Nevertheless 42% of the student teacher respondents indicated that they would be prepared to teach in any school, although preference for urban schools is still evident in the balance of the cohort's responses. See Table 14 below:

Table 14: Preferred School Posting




















It is also interesting to note that 13% of the students indicated preference to teach in a private school, as opposed to 10% who indicated their hopes to teach in a government school. This suggests that students believe that it is more likely that they would be employed outside of the government school structure.