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Title: Students' perceptions of the use of seminars in teacher education
Author: Demissie, Ayalnesh Fufy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 7106
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2011
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The student experience of university is a key driver of policy and practice in the UK higher education context, and seminars are an important part of this experience. Effective seminars can enhance engagement and promote key higher education dispositions and attitudes such as problem solving and critical thinking. However, unlike the research on students' approaches to learning and their perceptions of teaching quality, few studies have addressed students' experiences of learning in seminars. This study uses Bourdieu's theory of practice to investigate students' perceptions of learning and participating in seminars. Using semi-structured interviews, I interviewed 5 undergraduate second year teacher education student teachers on 3 occasions over a period of 12 months. The findings suggest that participants' perceptions of seminars are constituted by peers, families, and most significantly by tutors' practices. Dominant discourses such as 'education as transmission' and 'good practice' in particular seemed significant in connecting these constituents to influence participants' perceptions of seminars. Thus, the high dissonance between the participants' expectations and actual seminar practices led to less favourable perceptions of seminars, whereas low dissonance was associated with positive perceptions of seminars. In line with Bourdieu's concepts of field and habitus, the findings suggest that seminars are contested entities where cultural artefacts and individuals' practices create a complex learning context. Together with the notion of symbolic violence, Bourdieu's concepts highlighted how individuals' practices can sustain dominant cultural practices to reinforce the power inequalities of the seminar field. The study's findings have implications for practice, research and policy both within the teacher education context and across disciplines. In terms of policy, recognition of the complexity of the learning context cautions against conceptualising student learning mainly in term of students' conceptions, and/or their approaches to learning. With regards to research, the findings make a case for a focus on the meso level of student learning and the usefulness of theoretically informed research. Finally, the practice implication relate to my own pedagogy and to a general implication on how tutors' and institutional practices can be critically examined to assess the extent to which they compliment the aims and purposes of higher education.
Supervisor: Merchant, Guy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available