Strategies to develop beginner teachers' self- directedness through induction and mentoring
Mokoena, Thabang Donald
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The study did not aim to develop strategies to advance self-directedness but to determine the perceptions of beginner teachers about the contribution of induction and mentoring as strategies to develop self-directedness. Flowing from the perceptions of the students, recommendations about additional strategies to develop self-directedness are also made. Self-directedness is conceptualised as taking responsibility and initiative for directing one’s own learning and problem-solving, and its development is viewed from a social constructivist perspective that involves among others working in one’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), learning through scaffolding and in a social and collaborative manner. Self-directedness also includes the preparedness to deal with challenges during teaching and the ability to adjust classroom practices through guidance in a self-directed manner. Although self-directedness has assisted many experienced teachers in dealing with various challenges in the field, beginner teachers continue to struggle with self-directedness because they are not sufficiently exposed to induction and mentoring processes that would equip them to triumph over teaching challenges. The execution of the study was framed within a positivist research paradigm. To this end the researcher employed quantitative non-experimental descriptive research to collect numerical data using a pre-determined and structured five-point Likert scale questionnaire that contained questions from a standardised questionnaire as well as questions structured by the researcher. The purpose of the questionnaire, aligned with the main aim of the study, namely, to determine what difference induction and mentoring processes make in the perceptions of beginner teachers concerning the nature of their self-directedness. The target population for this research was all BEd honours students in South Africa. As it was impossible to do research with all these students, the sample only included part-time BEd honours students (n = 300) in the Faculty of Education at a South Africa University, which consists of three campuses. The researcher purposively focused on beginner teachers as newly qualified teachers with less than four years of service in primary and secondary schools. Convenience sampling was used as the researcher chose a particular university campus because it provided easy and convenient access to the institution. Beginner teachers were purposefully chosen because they have a few years of teaching experience which suited the aim of the study. The sample (n = 222) was homogeneous in terms of experience and heterogeneous regarding the type of school, school environment, age, and ethnic groups. Descriptive statistics, more specific frequencies, means and standard deviations were used to summarise the perceptions of the beginner teachers. Additionally, inferential statistics were used to compare the perceptions of beginner teachers who were exposed to and not exposed to induction and mentoring opportunities. For this purpose, t-tests supplemented by the calculation of effect sizes for statistically significant differences between perceptions, were used. The findings of the study alert one to the following important conclusions. Beginner teachers perceived to be capable of working in a self-directed manner only on a sometimes to usual basis, and they reported to lack preparedness in dealing with challenges. Induction processes seem to have no statistically significant effect on developing self-directedness (self-management, desire to learn, self-control). However, in terms of preparing beginner teachers to deal with teaching challenges, exposure to induction yielded statistically significant results. Exposure to mentoring processes seem to be more effective for developing self-directedness (self-management, desire to learn, self-control) compared to induction. Also, mentoring contributed significantly to the operational and instructional management challenges and teaching challenges of beginner teachers, compared to induction. Receiving guidance appears to be valuable for enabling beginner teachers to adjust in a self-directed manner to collaboration, planning lessons, using assessment for information, reflecting on instructional practice, and adjusting teaching to varying ethnic and socio economic backgrounds.
- Education