Teaching practice is an internship period where student teachers perform some roles such as teaching, managing the classroom and students’ behaviours, assessing student learning, while reflecting on their practices (Ashraf  , Andabai  , Edem  ). Teaching practice is seen as an integral part of a teacher education programme (Henry  , Richard, Role, & Makewa  ), and considered as an essential component of teacher preparation, because it is seen as “the best way to acquire professional knowledge and competence as a teacher” (Cocard, & Moser  , p. 626). This crucial component of a teacher preparation programme is sometimes referred to as field experience (Edge  ), or teaching practice (Fraser  ). Others prefer to use the term “practice teaching, student teaching, teaching practice, field studies, infield experience, school-based experience or internship” (Richard, Role, & Makewa  , p. 43). In this study, it is referred to as teaching practice and/or practicum.
According to Ogonor and Badmus  and Richard, Role and Makewa  , those who embank on this exercise are called student teachers. However, other authors use related terms. For instance, Edge  referred to them as “future teachers, prospective teachers, interns, rather than learners or students of teaching” (p. 37). Fraser  used the term “pre-service teachers” (p. 246), while Song  referred to them as teacher candidates. The term “student teacher” is used in this study.
For student teachers to acquire this knowledge, they are assigned to schools to teach, and this learning experience is supervised and assessed (Maphosa & Ndamba  ). During the practicum, student teachers are assigned to schools where they teach and participate in other school-related activities. These student teachers are also supervised and assessed during the practicum.
1.1. Background of the Study
All student teachers in the aforementioned programmes are required to do a series of teaching practice courses. These include one week of school observation, two weeks team teaching, and 12 weeks of individual teaching. Each is explained below.
1) One week of school observation (done in year 1, semester 1). This exercise is an initiation into the teaching profession for the student teachers. No university assessors are assigned to see the student teachers during the school observation exercise. However, student teachers are required to submit an observation booklet and would discuss their findings in a Foundations of Education course (Faculty of Education & Liberal Studies  ).
2) Two weeks of team teaching (done in year 3, semester 1). This is an opportunity for the student teachers to teach before assuming full solo responsibility in their final year. The University assessors are assigned to see the students during the team teaching and the individual teaching exercises (Faculty of Education & Liberal Studies  ).
3) Twelve weeks of individual teaching (done in year 4, semester 2). During this exercise, the student teachers who are promoted to the final year of their programme, are posted to high schools in
4) The Key Players. In the Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies, there are four key players involved in the teaching practice exercise. These include the teaching practice coordinator, cooperating teachers, university (internal) assessors, and the external assessors. The teaching practice coordinator, whose responsibilities include establishing teaching practice policy, placing student teachers in schools, planning and organising the teaching practice exercise, and selecting the cooperating teachers, among others (Faculty of Education & Liberal Studies  ). The cooperating teachers, whose classes are used for the practicum, are expected to work closely with the student teachers by performing mentoring roles and providing feedback which would help the student teachers to improve their teaching skills and competencies. As indicated earlier, the cooperating teachers are not expected to formally assess the student teachers (Faculty of Education & Liberal Studies  ).
Lecturers from the three areas of specialisation mentioned earlier, as well as those from the education division, are referred to as supervisors or university (internal) assessors. These supervisors are responsible for observing and assessing as well as providing feedback to the student teachers who they have supervised during the three teaching practice exercises. There are also external assessors who are not employees of the university but are contracted to externally assess and submit grades for all the student teachers who participated in the 12-week practicum. One of the external assessors is appointed as the chief external assessor. The chief external assessor has the responsibility of moderating both the internal and external grades and submitting a written report at the end of the exercise (Faculty of Education & Liberal Studies  ).
5) Teaching Practice Prerequisite. To ensure that the student teachers are ready for the practicum exercise, they must pass two courses in the curriculum, namely, special methods and instructional methods. In these courses, the student teachers are taught competencies on how to use different teaching strategies, which could impact learning. They must also pass all courses in their area of specialisation (Faculty of Education & Liberal Studies  ).
6) Teaching Practice Assessment. At the time of this study, the student teachers were assessed under four domains, namely, lesson preparation, lesson delivery, professionalism and classroom management, and communication skills by both the internal and external assessors in the three areas of specialisation. The response format for all four domains are as follows: Unable to Observe (U), Poor (1), Weak (2), Average (3), Good (4), and Excellent (5). See Table 1 for the number of items and weighting on the different domains.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Each year, student teachers are assigned to different high schools within and around
Table 1. Distribution of items and weighting.
on-going perception of the differences in the ways scores are assigned by the programme specialists and the education specialists (internal assessors). This perception has resulted in some lecturers expressing the view that programme specialists, that is, those internal assessors from the three areas of specialisation are more stringent than those from the education unit. However, no formal study has ever been done to ascertain if these concerns are real.
A review of the literature revealed several studies have been done on student teachers on teaching practice. However, there is little of study on the assessment of the performance of student teachers in
1.3. Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study was to assess the performance of the student teachers in a Bachelor of Education Programmes at the
1.4. Research Questions
The following research questions were answered:
1) How frequently were student teachers assessed during the teaching practice exercise?
2) To what extent is there a difference in the performance of the student teachers from the three areas of specialisation in the four domains (lesson preparation, lesson delivery, professionalism and classroom management, & communication skills) during the teaching practice exercise?
3) To what extent is there a relationship between the scores given by the programme and education specialists during the teaching practice exercise?
1.5. Research Hypothesis
The following null hypotheses were tested by using One Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Pearson’s Product Moment (r), respectively:
Ho1: There is no difference in the performance of the student teachers from the three areas of specialisation in the four domains during the teaching practice exercise.
Ho2: There is no relationship between the scores given by the programme and education specialists during the teaching practice exercise.
2. Literature Review
As indicated earlier, there are a lot of studies done across the world on teaching practice. These include but are not limited to studies done by Abongdia, Adu, and Foncha  , Andabai  , Babatunde  , Ebrahim, Eyadat, and Alshammari  , Field and Philpott  , Hyndman  , Kiggundu and Nayimuli  , Liu and Qi  , Mahmood and Iqbal  , Magope and Otukile-Mongwaketse  , Newton, Kadenyi, and Mukuna  , Onyebukwa-Nwanoro  , Onyefulu  , and Rauduvaite, Lasauskiene, and Barkauskaite  , to name a few.
Liu and Qi  assessed student teaching practice in two elementary teacher preparation programmes in China and the United States of America (USA) and found some similarities and differences between the two countries. For instance, more hours were allocated to student teaching in the
Other authors examined the benefits of a teaching practice exercise. For instance, Andabai  evaluated the impact of teaching practice on trainee teachers in
There are also studies on the assessment of teaching practice. For instance, in
3. Research Methodology
3.1. Design and Sample
This study was conducted using the ex-post facto research design. Data were collected using the teaching practice assessment form for theory lessons. The population of the study included all 88 student teachers who were assessed by 23 University assessors (that is, 10 assessors from the three areas of specialization & 13 from the education unit) who participated in the 2011/12 teaching practice exercise. Therefore, no sampling was conducted. The teaching practice (theory forms) for all 88 student teachers who participated in the 12-week teaching practice in 20 high schools within and around
Table 2. Distribution of student teacher by Area of specialisation.
3.2. Data Collection
Three different teaching practice scales were used for assessing student teachers at the
Since this study was not aimed at assessing student teachers’ overall competency, the scores used were obtained from the theory lesson assessment only. For the theory lesson, the student teachers were assessed using a scale with 52 items under the following sections: lesson preparation, lesson delivery, professionalism and classroom management, and communication skills. These items had the following response format: Unable to Observe without a value, No Attempt with a value of (0), Poor with a value of (1), Weak (2), Average (3), Good (4), and Excellent (5).
3.3. Reliability Coefficient Analysis
The Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient was computed with the scores from the teaching practice (theory) scale. This was done to ensure that the scores used in the study were reliable. The overall reliability coefficient was 0.919. The sub-scale reliability coefficients ranged from 0.737 to .894. Although several authors have quoted different acceptable reliability coefficients, Reynolds,
3.4. Data Analysis
The scores were coded and entered into SPSS version 21 and analysed using descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation, frequency, & percentage), and inferential statistics (ANOVA & Pearson’s Product Moment). It should be pointed out that although the numbers of student teachers in the three groups were unequal, the effects of violations of the ANOVA test assumptions were not considered as serious because of its robustness (Glass & Hopkins ; Ravid  ).
During the 2011/12 teaching practice period, a total of 20 high schools in Eastern
Table 3. Sub-scale reliability coefficients.
Jamaica schools were used. Thirteen of these schools are located in the parishes of
The student teachers from the Business and Computing Studies programme taught the following subjects: principles of accounting, principles of business, and information technology; those from the Family and Consumer Studies programme taught mostly home and family management, clothing and textiles, and food and nutrition; while those from the Industrial Technology programme taught electrical technology, industrial techniques, mechanical technology, technical drawing, machine shop, metalwork, woodwork, and building construction. It should be noted that some of these subjects do have practical components; however, this study only focused on the theory aspect of the lesson delivery.
4.1. Frequency of Assessment during the Teaching Practice
Research Question One: How frequently were student teachers assessed during the teaching practice exercise?
The number of times the student teachers were assessed during the three-month teaching practice was calculated from the assessors’ log. See Table 4 for the frequency of the student teachers’ teaching practice assessments. The log inspection revealed that a few student teachers in the Business and Computing Studies programme got only one visit during the teaching practice. The mode for this group was three assessments, indicating that 13 student-teachers were assessed three times. The mode for the Family and Consumer Studies group was four, which appeared 12 times, while the mode for the Industrial Technology group was three, which appeared 11 times.
4.2. Student Teachers’ Performance in the Four Domains
Research Question Two: To what extent is there a difference in the performance of the student teachers from the three areas of specialisation in the four domains (lesson preparation, lesson delivery, professionalism and classroom management, & communication skills) during the teaching practice exercise?
As shown in Table 5, the Business and Computing Studies student teachers performed better in all four domains with the mean values ranging from 76.3 to 87.7. The scores for the Industrial Technology, and the Family and Consumer Studies scores student teachers ranged from 72.9 to 81.0, and 68.3 to 81.0, respectively. In terms of the spread of the scores, the standard deviation values
Table 4. Number of assessments received by student teachers.
Table 5. Student teachers’ performance in the four domains.
*Professionalism & classroom management.
ranged from 5.29 to 9.73 when compared to the Industrial Technology and the Family and Consumer Studies scores, which ranged from 2.77 to 10.01, and 2.51 to 7.61, respectively. These figures showed that there was less spread in the scores obtained by the student teachers in the Business and Computing Studies programme.
Furthermore, the analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine if there were differences in the student teachers’ performance in the four domains. As shown in Table 6, there were significant differences in two domains, namely, Lesson Preparation F(2, 85) = 6.488, p = 0.002, and Lesson Delivery F(2, 85) = 9.856, p = 0.001, respectively. Tukey’s post-hoc multiple comparison test was used to determine which groups were different. The results showed that for Lesson Preparation, there was a statistically significant difference between the student teachers in the Business and Computing Studies and the Family and Consumer Studies. For Lesson Delivery, the Tukey test also showed there was a statistically significant difference between the Business and Computing Studies and the Industrial Studies student teachers.
There were no differences in the other two domains, namely, Professionalism and Classroom Management, and Communication Skills. The null hypothesis, there is no difference in the performance of the student teachers from the three areas of specialisation in the four domains during the teaching practice exercise, was therefore rejected.
4.3. Relationship between Programme Specialists and Education Specialists
Research Question Three: To what extent is there a relationship between the scores given by the programme and education specialists during the teaching
Table 6. ANOVA Summary table comparing three groups on four domains on teaching practice.
To answer the above research question bivariate (Pearson’s product moment) was computed. The overall (n = 88) obtained Pearson’s coefficient was (r = 0.329) significant at 0.001 level. This indicated that in general, there was a weak positive relationship between the scores given by the programme and education specialists during the teaching practice exercise. See Table 7 for the results of the relationship between the scores awarded by the programme and education specialists during the teaching practice exercise.
As shown in Table 7, there were no significant relationships for the scores awarded to the student teachers in the Industrial Technology, and Family and Consumer Studies programmes, although the mean values for the scores by the education specialists were slightly higher when compared to those by the programme specialists for those in the Family and Consumer Studies programme. The null hypothesis, there is no relationship between the scores given by the programme and education specialists during the teaching practice exercise, was therefore rejected.
Regarding research question one, the findings showed that the number of times the student teachers were assessed during the three-month teaching practice ranged from one to five assessments. Although some student teachers had as many as five assessments in the three areas of specialisation, some in the Business and Computing Studies programme appeared to have had less assessment
Table 7. Relationship between scores given by programme & education specialists.
*Family & consumer studies, **Business & computer studies.
when compared to those in the Family and Consumer Studies, and Industrial Technology programmes. This finding is consistent with the study done by Mannathoko  in Botswana, which showed that some student teachers were not frequently assessed. This has serious implications for the quality of preparations of the student teachers.
Regarding research question two, the student teachers in the Business and Computing Studies programme performed better in all four domains, namely, lesson preparation, lesson delivery, professionalism and classroom management, and communication skills. This is followed by the student teachers in the Family and Consumer Studies, who obtained scores that were higher in lesson delivery, and professionalism and classroom management when compared to those in the Industrial Technology programme. These findings were consistent with the study done by Hyndman  in
It is important to note that the student teachers’ scores in communication skills were higher (in the 80s) more than the scores for the pedagogical components across the three programmes. Prozesky  considered communication skills as an important aspect of effective teaching. A similar view was expressed by Khan, Khan, Zia-Ul-Islam and Khan  who stated that “effective communication skills are really important for a teacher in transmitting of education, classroom management and interaction with students in the class” (p. 18). It is, therefore, encouraging to know that these sets of student teachers performed well in communication skills.
Regarding research question three, the findings showed that there was a 2.0 point difference in the mean values between the scores awarded by the programme and education specialists for the Business and Computing Studies student teachers. Furthermore, the findings showed also that the scores awarded by the programme specialists for the Business and Computing Studies student teachers were higher than those awarded by the education specialists. Hence, there was a weak positive relationship between the scores awarded by the programme and education specialists for the student teachers in the Business and Computing Studies only. There were no significant relationships for the scores awarded to the student teachers in the Industrial Technology, and Family and Consumer Studies programmes, although the mean values for the scores by the education specialists were slightly higher when compared to those by the programme specialists for those in the Family and Consumer Studies programme. The null hypothesis was therefore rejected. Kaphesi  found a relationship between the assessment grades and the written comments by the assessors in
The main purpose of this study was to assess the performance of the student teachers in a Bachelor of Education Programmes at the
The following recommendations are made based on the results:
1) It will be good to ensure that each student teacher gets more than one assessment. A student teacher who gets only shows that such a student will not benefit from the observation, assessments, and feedback from multiple assessors.
2) To minimize the difference in the grades awarded by the programme and education specialists, efforts should be made to ensure that the two sets of assessors are observing and providing feedback that are consistent with the knowledge and training provided to the student teachers prior to the practicum.
3) There is a need to investigate further why some of the student teachers in the Family and Consumer Studies, and Industrial Technology programmes had slightly lower scores under lesson preparation and professionalism and classroom management.
4) There is also a need to investigate why the student teachers in the Business Studies programme had higher scores under lesson preparation and professionalism and classroom management compared to those of the Family and Consumer Studies and Industrial Technology programmes.
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