Teacher education done differently (TEDD): changing the experiences in teacher education to promote links between theory and practice

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Hudson, S, Hudson, P & Murray, M 2012, 'Teacher education done differently (TEDD): changing the experiences in teacher education to promote links between theory and practice', paper presented to the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) 2012 conference, Adelaide, SA, 1-4 July.


There have been more than 100 reviews into teacher education over the past three decades (HRSCEVT, 2007), and graduating competent teachers in theoretical and pedagogical knowledge for teaching remains on government agendas (e.g., Caldwell & Sutton, 2010). This paper reports on the Teacher Education Done Differently (TEDD) project funded through a federal Structural Reform and Diversity grant. An aim of the research was to better prepare preservice by assisting them to make the links between theory and practice by integrating targeted school-based experiences into the existing Bachelor of Education (primary) program.
Thirteen university units were structured to include opportunities for preservice teachers to take theories and concepts learned at university and apply them to teaching primary students. Each experience was negotiated in partnership with university academics and staff from participating schools. Experiences demonstrated a “benefits for all” approach and included preservice teachers going into schools and school students attending activities at the university campus to aid the preservice teachers’ understandings of theory and practice connections (i.e., praxis).
A self-reporting survey developed from literature was used to evaluate the impact of the school-based learning experiences on preservice teachers’ professional growth. Following each experience, surveys were administered to all of the participating preservice teachers (n=160). Simple statistical descriptions where calculated to aid analysis and comparison between the features of the school-based experiences and the aspects of preservice teachers’ learning. In eleven of the thirteen university units, 83 – 100% of preservice teachers indicated that they learned from the experiences, links were made between theories and practices and, consequently, they believed the teacher education program was enhanced. These TEDD school-based experiences appeared effective in enabling preservice teachers to connect theory with practice. However, issues around sustainability of such programs arose, such as: negating increased academic workloads; continuing programs without funding; and, catering for greater numbers of preservice teachers.