Exploring Teacher Candidates’ Perception of Practicum Placement Within Concurrent Teacher Education in Two Ontario Universities
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In this study, teacher candidates’ perception of their concurrent education program at two Ontario universities were examined, with specific emphasis on how the programs utilized practicum placements, to determine the effectiveness in preparing teacher candidates to teach. This research also strived to uncover the best ways to optimize concurrent teacher education through practicum placements. A questionnaire and interviews were used to uncover teacher candidates’ perceptions at one teacher education program that used full integration of practicum and one that used minimal integration of practicum. The findings revealed that teacher candidates were generally more satisfied with the overall program when there was full integration of practicum. There were statistically significant differences found between the two concurrent programs with regard to practicum time and preparedness and context of the practicum and a highly significant difference found for theory-practice divide. There was also a statistically significant difference (p < .05) observed between the teacher candidates at each university in terms of their beliefs about the need for improvement of their program. Some of the improvements that participants believed could be made to their respective programs included having (a) exceptional mentor teachers and teacher educators, (b) longer placements with a balance of observation and practicum teaching, (c) clear expectations and evaluations of practicum placement, and (d) more distinct connections between theory and practice made within the programs.
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