Learning to teach : a phenomenographic perspective
Learning to teach has been studied by observing and recording the experiences of a group of postgraduate students enrolled on a one-year programme of initial teacher education. The study attempted to capture the complexity of teaching and what is required for the development of professional expertise in teachers. For the purpose of this study professional expertise is defined in terms of reflective practice characterised by the development of analytic awareness. The study addressed the question of what learning to teach involves from the perspective of the student teachers enrolled on an initial teacher education programme. The programme was designed to change their ways of experiencing teaching, their understanding and conceptions of teaching and their understanding of the challenges teaching presents to the teacher. The change which student teachers are expected to experience is a change in awareness of what it means to teach a specific content in the secondary school. The study sought evidence to answer three specific questions: (1) What does learning to teach mean to student teachers of economics? (2) To what extent do student teachers think of learning to teach as changing awareness of teaching, its constituents and the relations between them? (3) What is required for student teachers to learn to teach if learning to teach is defined as changing awareness of teaching? The study was conducted in the phenomenographic tradition, seeking qualitatively different ways in which the student teachers understood the phenomenon of teaching economics, and describing the structural and referential aspects of the conceptions identified. Categories of description of the distinctly different ways in which teaching economics is understood have been identified, presented and discussed. The categories have been illuminated with reference to student cases. These form the results of the study. The results of the study shed light on the ways in which student teachers understand aspects of teaching economics at different stages in a programme of teacher education, and what observed changes over time imply in terms of their learning to teach for the design of an initial teacher education programme.