Associate-Candidate Relationships: A Study of Teacher Education Field Experiences
Past research has identified the importance of the relationship between teacher candidates and their associate teachers during field experiences. Through the research questions that framed the study, I sought to contribute to a growing understanding of how the associate teacher-teacher candidate relationship develops from the perspective of teacher candidates. Using an interpretive lens, I explored the associate teacher-teacher candidate relationships of 5 teacher candidates at a mid-sized university in Southern Ontario. In this instrumental multicase study, the 5 participants described 13 pairs of relationships with associate teachers who modeled varying practices. The qualitative data surrounding these case relationships were collected through a focus group and semistructured interviews. Participants’ responses were analyzed using axial coding and constant comparative analysis. Participants identified feedback, guidance, support, genuine interactions, and relationship dynamics as central to successful field experiences. Participants also suggested that associate teachers might be better supported in their role if they were offered increased professional development from the faculties of education that organize the field experiences. The findings documented offer a fresh perspective of the role of the associate teacher in successful teacher education programs, particularly as experienced by the 5 participants.