Facilitating student-teacher professional learning in their field experience

Authored by: May May Hung Cheng

Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138908499
eBook ISBN: 9781315694382
Adobe ISBN:


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Facilitating student-teachers’ construction of knowledge related to teaching and education, and transferring such knowledge to their practice, remain challenging for teacher education programmes. Attempts have been made to understand the nature of theoretical knowledge in teacher education. Two types of such knowledge, namely epistemic and phronesis, have been distinguished by Korthagen and Kessels (2015). Epistemic knowledge refers to general conceptions, “objective” and applicable to a wide range of situations, whereas phronesis knowledge is situation specific, subjective, and perceptual. In explaining the learning of student-teachers, Korthagen and Kessels (2015) propose a three-level process. The student-teachers start with experiences with concrete examples, leading to Gestalt formation in which there is a complex interplay of factors influencing their teaching. Through reflection and schematization, a schema or network of elements and relations is built. Finally, with further reflection, theory, which is a logical ordering of the relations in the schema, is formed. These levels suggest that student-teachers’ learning starts with concrete examples or experiences, while schema and theory are formed through repeated reflection. Teacher education programmes need to provide opportunities for gaining concrete experiences such that student-teachers can make sense of knowledge learnt in campus-based courses’ institution-specific contexts. It is not uncommon to find teacher education programmes designed with blocks of teaching practice periods in Asia. These teaching practice blocks, otherwise known as field experience periods, provide a starting point for student-teachers to build up their phronesis knowledge. However, supporting student-teachers to construct epistemic knowledge or a comprehensive schema which is adaptable to different classroom contexts is a more challenging mission for teacher educators.

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