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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Managing the dilemmas of learning to teach: an exploration of the strategies used by pre-service science teachers Rodriguez, Alberto J.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the dilemmas pre-service science teachers encounter in relation to their participation in a project which sought to establish a constructivist and collaborative model of teaching and learning. I also explored the strategies the pre-service teachers implemented to manage the dilemmas they encountered, as well as how they perceived those dilemmas to have influenced their teaching practice and their personal philosophies of teaching and learning (PPoTaL). Since the construct of voice was an important factor in this study, I used a research method that I refer to as intercontext. This method has three major components: stimulated linkage, reflexivity and the dialectical conversation. To enact this research method, I conducted five interviews with each of the six pre-service teachers over the 12-month period of their professional preparation. In addition, I had many informal conversations with them and observed them several times during their university and school practicum experiences. I argued that social constructivism provides a fruitful theoretical framework to interpret the results of this study, because this orientation to teaching and learning is based on the notion that knowledge is socially constructed and mediated by.cultural, historical and institutional codes. In this light, three broad dilemmas were identified in relation to the students' experiences with the teacher education program's course content and design and six dilemmas were identified in relation to the roles the participants felt they needed to perform during their school practicum. The variety of dilemmas the pre-service teachers encountered and the direct and indirect strategies they implemented to manage those dilemmas could be explained in terms of two overarching issues. The first had to do with the difficulties associated with bridging the theory and practice of learning to teach in two distinct communities of practice (i.e., in the university and the school communities). The second general factor had to do with the type of relationship the pre-service teachers established with their school advisor(s) or/and faculty advisor; that is, from the the students' point of view they wondered to what extent they could trust their advisors to allow them to take the risks associated with asking questions, trying innovative approaches in the classroom, and exploring their own teaching identity without any of these reflecting negatively in their final evaluation reports. Finally, a number of suggestions for practice and further research are provided.

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