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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Novice and experienced science teachers' perspectives on theory and practice : a shift toward integrating everyday and academic concepts O'Reilly, Tara-Lynn


The current research used a Vygotskian approach, in particular his definitions of everyday and academic concepts, to examine the perspectives of two novice and two experienced science teachers on the relationship between theory and practice. Semi-structured and artefact-mediated interviews were used to examine novice and experienced science teachers’ definitions of theory, practice, and learning, as well as their experiences in teacher education, and their expectations for their future pedagogy. Thematic analysis was conducted to analyze and interpret the interviews and the artefacts produced. There were five findings that emerged from the research: different perspectives on theory and its role in decision-making processes; a shift in perspective on teaching practice, student practice, and learning; the importance of gaining teaching experience—and further education—in the development of effective teaching; how the role a teacher candidate plays, as a student or a teacher, affects their learning and identity construction and; the importance of the relationships between the university and the practicum school. There were eight barriers that appeared to affect teacher candidate learning and development that were identified in the research and eight recommendations were articulated to overcome these barriers. Three of the recommendations included: for teacher education programs to examine ways to make theory explicit and to discuss how to apply theory and practice; to develop assessments that assess teacher candidates’ understanding of theory and their ability to apply theory in practice; to increase time for guided dialogue and reflection around why certain strategies are used in different contexts and/or for different students and how theoretical grounding can help teachers think about approaching classroom interactions. Working toward the integration of everyday and academic concepts in teacher education may enable the development of theory and practice as related academic concepts, thus, improving their internalization as psychological tools that facilitate learning and development in classroom contexts.

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