The development of a teaching practice curriculum : a tertiary-didactic investigation.
The broad goal of this investigation was to examine the effectiveness of the practical components in teacher education courses. In order to achieve this goal, it was necessary to find possible solutions to the major problem around which inquiries of this nature tend to revolve, viz. What would be the features of a relevant, practical, democratically - designed curriculum for Teaching Practice? To reduce the complexity of the problem, it seemed realistic to link the research to a particular case. Consequently, an in-depth analysis was made of the Teaching Practice curriculum in use at the University of Durban-Westville. The research consisted of seven phases 1. A literary study of trends in Teaching Practice, Didactics, and Curriculum Development. 2. An examination of historical and current developments of the Teaching Practice course offered at the University of Durban-Westville. 3. A survey of Teaching Practice curricula currently in use at 52 teacher training institutions inside South Africa and abroad. 4. A survey of the views of 65 school authorities regarding Teaching Practice curricula. 5. A survey of the views of 170 final-year student teachers regarding Teaching Practice curricula. 6. A survey of the views of 35 lecturers involved in teacher education regarding Teaching Practice curricula. 7. The design of an effective Teaching Practice curriculum based on a fusion of the data obtained. The preliminary findings of the investigation centred upon the identification of deep conflicts that exist among various groups involved in teacher education. During the institutional survey, for instance, it was found that marked differences exist between the practical components of curricula offered at different institutions. Whereas some institutions lay heavy emphasis on the development of practical teaching skills on campus, most of them apparently concentrate only on theoretical aspects in their campus-based courses. Teaching Practice is mostly seen as that part of the course that takes place at schools. This could obviously cause serious discrepancies between what students are taught on campus and at schools. In similar vein divergent trends were identified in the expressed needs of school authorities, students, and teacher educators. Each group seems to have a different set of expectations regarding teacher education in general, and Teaching Practice in particular. These findings led to the realization that the most important characteristic of an effective Teaching Practice curriculum is that it should be based on a scientific model theory of teaching which both tutors and students should put into practice. The persistent propagation of inconsistent, contradictory theories of teaching was identified as a crippling weakness in many Teaching Practice courses. The study culminated in the presentation of a proposed Teaching Practice curriculum. This curriculum rests on the claim that it is relevant to modern trends in Didactics as well as in teacher education. The expressed views of school authorities, students, and tutors have been incorporated. It promises to have a strong theoretical foundation and seems to be rooted in real classroom practices. The proposals are accompanied by general guidelines for implementation. One might conclude, therefore, that viable solutions to the research problem have been found. And what of the future? The present crisis in education in South Africa must be considered when embarking on the development, and changing of such a curriculum. Are planners really aware of the impact that pupil unrest will be bound to have on school curricula and thus necessarily upon teacher education? I hope so.