A qualitative examination of conferencing between cooperating teachers and student teachers in a secondary school setting

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MacMillan, Corinne D.
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Despite the fact that the student teaching practicum is consistently reported as the most important part of an Education student's overall experience, little research is available to guide cooperating teachers. At the heart of this work is the conferencing that takes place between the cooperating teachers and student teachers. The present study, framed in a cognitive apprenticeship model, explores the conferencing experiences of six cooperating teacher/student teacher pairs. Using data from audio-taped conferences, reflective statements from the cooperating teachers and student teachers on each conference and focus group discussions, this research demonstrates the utility of the cognitive apprenticeship framework in understanding and structuring the student teaching experience. The results of this research demonstrate that the global elements of the cognitive apprenticeship framework are reflected in the conferencing experiences of cooperating teacher/student teacher pairs. Emergent factors ranged from the individuals' perceived benefit of actively preparing to conference with each other to changes required in the structure and content of university coursework to enhance preservice teacher preparation. The cognitive apprenticeship model's four global elements--content, method, sequencing and sociology--and the corresponding specific categories within each global element were evidenced across data sets regardless of grade, course or subject. The results of this investigation demonstrate that the cognitive apprenticeship model is an effective tool for understanding the learning that takes place in conferencing between cooperating teacher/student teacher airs.