Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Linda Evans

Keywords

educational processes, educational technology, instructional effectiveness, language teachers, sociocultural theory, teacher education

Abstract

Within the paradigm of Sociocultural Theory, and using Activity Theory as a data-gathering and management tool, this microgenetic case study examined the

processes - the growth, change, and development - engaged in by student-teachers in a foreign language education program as they worked together to complete an activity.

The activity involved digital video recording and editing, mediators which were intended

to facilitate the iterative review of and subsequent reflection and action upon the content of the video during its creation.

By investigating the process of contextual interaction between learners and the

mediational elements of their environment as the activity progressed, this study intended to further understanding of preservice teacher development in at least two important ways. The aims of this study were to discover a) tangible evidence of cognitive transformation (development in the form of regulation), as well as b) aspects of professionalization into a community of skilled second language teachers (as evidenced by activity).

The present study took place in a graduate-level foreign language/TESOL

education practicum course. The activity involved the making of a digital video to

explain and exemplify a given second language instructional approach, as well as the

rationale behind and methods of targeting a specific language skill. Using theoretical

constructs previously shown to be effective in the pedagogy of teacher preparation, the

creators of this task endeavored to design a socially- and artifact-mediated activity with the potential to broaden and deepen student-teachers' pedagogical and professional

knowledge.

The student-teachers failed to engage in meaningful dialogical or critical reflection as they engaged in the task, and made no perceptible regulative movement.

What ultimately was revealed in the case of the study participants was a disconnect

between the intentions of the core-task designers and the outcomes effected by the

student-teachers. The data gleaned from this close examination of student-teacher

processes was revelatory in terms of the quantity and types of factors that appeared to

significantly impact the outcomes of the project. These factors have the potential to

inform the process of translating socio-cultural theory into pedagogical practice, and should be of interest to anyone involved in the development of student-teachers, including those who design or deliver preservice teacher curricula.

Discussed are the possible explanations for the disconnect between the designers

and administrators of the activity and the participants in the study. Also considered are

the potentially serious implications for second language teacher education programs and their curricula in terms of the application of sociocultural constructs to learning tasks and environments.

Recommendations include increased scaffolding by the course professor through

direct guidance, as well as by structuring tasks to facilitate students' ability to collaborate and to perceive and resolve the conflicts, contradictions, and tensions that arise during the course of the activity. On a broader level, serious examinations of teacher education programs and curricula are also recommended to look for ways to better understand, align, and achieve the goals of teacher developers and those of their student-teachers.