For some years now in Australia concerns have arisen about early adolescents and their disengagement from the schooling system, their “at risk” behaviour and their need for social, emotional and academic support. The Melbourne Declaration (2008) advocates for an education system that supports the development and well-being of young people. Hence, the need for continued university courses designed to graduate teachers who possess the theoretical and pedagogical knowledge for engaging early adolescent learners. This mixed-method study analysed the responses of final-year preservice teachers from three universities across Australia completing middle years teacher preparation. Data were gathered from preservice teachers (n=142) using a survey, extended response questionnaire and one-to-one interviews (n=10). Quantitative results indicated that the majority of preservice teachers claimed confidence in creating a positive classroom environment (range: 70-97%), developing positive relationships for teaching (71-98%), pedagogical knowledge for teaching (72-95%), and implementation of teaching 45 (70-91%). Qualitative findings suggested that the experiences that assisted them to be confident for teaching were practicum and associated field studies coursework, a positive mentor teacher, specifically designed middle years subjects, the pedagogical approaches of university staff, and other real-world experiences such as volunteering in schools and participating in professional development alongside their mentors. This study demonstrated that universities presenting middle years teacher preparation need to consider: the quality of the practicum experience; the suitability of mentor teachers; the significance and practicalities of middle years subjects; university lecturers’ modelling of pedagogical practices; and the inclusion of real-world learning experiences. Although the findings of this study provided evidence as to how preservice teacher confidence for teaching has been influenced by their middle schooling teacher preparation, further research is required to investigate how confidence translates into practice within their first years of teaching.
Hudson, S & Kean, B 2013, 'Final year preservice teachers’ confidence for teaching in the middle years of schooling', Proceedings of the Australian Teacher Educator Association (ATEA) Conference, Brisbane, Qld. 30 June- 3 July, Australian Teacher Education Association, Brisbane, Qld. ISBN: 977568512
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