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Some factors in the professional socialization of trainee teachers Williams, Colin John Anthony

Abstract

There has been much discussion in the sociological literature as to the relative importance of different influences that impinge upon recruits undergoing professional socialization. Merton et. al. (1957), see faculties of professional training institutions as being very influential, whereas Quarantelli et. al. (1964), see this group as relatively less so, and instead, see recruits taking 'different paths’ through professional school and being subject to a variety of influences. Few writers however, deal with the problem of why some groups in the training situation are important to different trainees and others are not. It is the aim of this thesis to find out what conceptions of their future roles recruits bring with them to the training situation, why they find different groups in this situation important to them, and what changes these initial conceptions undergo. Students being prepared for teaching careers were selected as the research case. It was assumed that recruits entering training would be fairly indiscriminate, holding diffuse, idealistic conceptions of their future roles. Such occupational role conceptions (or occupational self concepts, as we called them), it was further assumed, determined which groups would become important to them (their reference groups). It was further hypothesised that exposure to the realities of their occupation, (in this case, teaching practice) would cause a change in recruits’ occupational self conceptions, and thus, their choice of reference groups. Thus recruits completing their course will have more specific and realistic occupational self concepts, be more discriminating, chose different reference groups, and evaluate their practice experiences differently, than those just beginning their training course. A sample of 112 trainee teachers at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Education were selected, of whom 57 were in their first year and 55 in their final year of training. The time factor prevented a longitudinal study from being conducted, thus beginning and completing teachers were compared, and from this, inferences made about possible processes of change. Data were gathered by a questionnaire designed to - a). determine which reference groups were influential to trainees. b). find students' evaluations and perceptions of their experiences during training. c). discover what occupational self concepts trainees held by the use of an attitude scale. The results obtained showed, that contrary to our predictions, beginning trainees did not have a more diffuse conception of their occupational role than completing trainees. A possible explanation for this was put forward in terms of differential familiarity with the statements of educational philosophy that made up the attitude scale. Neither, it was found, were completing teachers less idealistic than beginners, nor did they positively evaluate teaching practice to a much greater degree than the latter. The failure of these predictions were explained by differential interaction patterns which acted as 'insulating' factors against the experiences of teaching practice. The two predictions that were supported were that beginning trainees would be less discriminating than completing trainees, and that occupational self concepts were an important determinant of what reference group a trainee chose.

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