The development of a work integrated learning mentoring framework for a faculty of education
Van den Berg, P.
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Current national and international reading literacy statistics for South African learners point to the fact that a substantial number of learners are unable to read at acceptable reading levels. Teachers are often seen as the frontline of defense in efforts to prevent reading problems. The International Reading Association (2003: 2) states that, “Only if teachers are well prepared to implement research-based practices and have the professional knowledge and skill to alter those practices when they are not appropriate for particular children will every child learn to read”. In order to ensure that teachers implement the curriculum of the day with fidelity will require targeting the key enactors of such reforms, namely the teachers and preservice teachers. Indeed, classroom teachers in their roles as mentors have a significant role to play for developing preservice teachers, where a significant period of time is spent within the school setting during teaching practice. The purpose of this study was to determine how second year and fourth year preservice teachers as well as mentor teachers experience mentoring, with a specific focus on reading literacy. A mixed method design using both qualitative and quantitative methods was deemed appropriate for investigating the research aims. Participants were purposefully selected and included three schools in one educational district with the following characteristics, namely school one offers home language in English, school two offers home language in Setswana, and school three offers home language in Afrikaans. In all three schools the teachers that fulfilled the role of mentor teacher to the preservice teachers were also included in the study. Randomly selected second year and fourth year students enrolled in a BEd (Foundation Phase specialisation) programme at one university were included in the study. The group of preservice teachers were chosen specifically due to the differing experiences each group might have had in classrooms and with mentoring. At the time of the study, second year preservice teachers spent approximately 15 days with a mentor and final year preservice teachers spent 72 days over the course of their degree. The final year students also experienced two or three different mentors. The results of this study indicated that the second year and fourth year preservice teachers did not differ practically significantly in terms of their mentoring experiences related to personal attributes, system requirements, pedagogical knowledge, modelling and feedback. The results, therefore, indicate that the hypothesis formulated for this study cannot be supported. The results also indicated that the second-year students differed from the mentor teachers (d=0.5) in terms of their responses for pedagogical knowledge as well as modelling. The mean scores for the mentor teachers on these two constructs were slightly higher than those of the second-year students. The effect sizes are, however, of a medium effect. The results seem to indicate that the mentor teachers were of the opinion that they were doing a slightly “better job” of mentoring related to pedagogical knowledge and modelling aspects than that experienced by the second-year student teachers. A framework is provided for a developmentally appropriate mentoring programme which can be utilized by faculties of education responsible for ensuring effective mentoring for their preservice teachers.
- Education