Graduation Year

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Secondary Education

Major Professor

Gladis Kersaint, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Eugenia Vomvoridi-Ivanovic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Samuel Eskelson, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Jacobs, Ph.D.

Keywords

fieldwork collaboration, multi-case study, student teaching, teacher preparation

Abstract

Throughout the history of teacher education, the final fieldwork experience has often been called the single most influential experience in teacher preparation programs (Burns, Jacobs, & Yendol-Hoppey, 2016; Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann, 1986; Parker-Katz & Bay, 2008). Though this experience has been expanded to include fieldwork experiences throughout many teacher education programs (Guyton & McIntyre, 1990), the final fieldwork experience remains the closing activity and the lasting image of teacher preparation (Feiman-Nemser & Buchmann, 1986; Rosaen & Florio-Ruane, 2008). Given its importance, though, researchers know relatively little about it. “The knowledge thus produced is akin to the quantum theory of physics; we know what goes in . . . and what comes out . . . but not what occurs in the interim” (Guyton & McIntyre, 1990, p. 524). Given the current reforms in mathematics education and mathematics teacher education (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2010; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010), Guyton and McIntyre’s observation is still relevant today.

During the final fieldwork experience, university-based and school-based mathematics educators must work together on behalf of the novice to marry university-promoted theory (especially reform-oriented theory) with the practical classroom expectations of day-to-day teaching life. Though there is much research on how this kind of work should be done and the dilemmas that have arisen during fieldwork (e.g., Knight, 2009; Loughran, 2006; Nolan & Hoover, 2004; Sergiovanni & Starratt, 2006; Sullivan & Glanz, 2013), we have little information about the experiences of the mathematics educators who collaborate during final fieldwork. Furthermore, we have very little information on how these educators navigate mathematics reforms to prepare teachers of mathematics.

This multi-case study was designed to investigate three novices, their school-based mentors, and their university-based mentor (me) who collaborated during a year-long final fieldwork experience at the close of a middle school mathematics teacher preparation program. To write single case reports that illuminated our collaborative experiences, I wrote the “stories” of each triad. To collect these stories, I used individual and group interviews, paired conversations, asynchronous text interviews, conference observations, collaborative fieldwork artifacts, my own practitioner-researcher journal, and three cycles of participant member checks. After verifying the veracity of the stories of each triad, I engaged in cross-case analysis to make assertions about the commonalities and unique circumstances that defined these fieldwork cases.

This study adds to teacher preparation fieldwork literature by evoking a response from educators working in the field and providing them with examples of open dialogue that created more empathetic collaborative experiences. The study also provides evidence that the empathy generated by sharing stories can create more productive and effective learning experiences for the novices involved. In particular, open dialogue provided the collaborators in these cases with a platform for acknowledging pedagogical differences, negotiating fieldwork expectations, and setting and meeting novices’ professional goals. For future investigations of teacher preparation fieldwork collaboration, this study provides evidence that a practitioner approach to research affords the researcher exceptional access to the stories of novices and mentors and establishes empathetic bonds that can make the telling of those stories both illuminating and respectful of the voices they represent.

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