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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The matter of experience : understanding good teaching in an international field placement Riedel, Marian Ida


Many teacher education programs, like those in BC, depict good teaching as an epistemological concern, one that can be addressed by acquiring propositional and procedural knowledge during on-campus teacher education courses and, in turn, applying this knowledge in field settings (e.g., the practicum). Such a perspective marginalizes the knowledge and insights gained from the direct experience of teaching and depicts good teaching as an application activity situated in a theory-into-practice paradigm. In an attempt to better understand the contribution of direct experience to good teaching, this study explores the international field placement component of a Bachelor of Education program for six pre-service teachers. Specifically, it examines how the pre-service teachers understand and act on their ideas about what it means to be a good teacher as a result of a four week placement in BC Offshore Schools in Asia. This hermeneutic qualitative study draws upon Hans-Georg Gadamer’s (2004) notion of Erfahrung – an experience that interrupts understandings. An analysis of the pre-service teachers’ experiences suggests that international field placements, such as those at BC Offshore Schools, can be a distinctive form of direct experience where the context provides both familiarity and strangeness – a relationship that both challenges and contributes to the participants’ thinking about the practice of good teaching in ways that may not be possible in regular BC field placements. Specifically, this study demonstrates that the pre-service teachers problematized three important dimensions of teaching: embedded Western values; universal applications of “good” pedagogy/“best practice”; and the pre-service teacher position within the field placement. These results have implications for the purpose and value of international field placement in teacher education.

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