Boundaries, bricolage and student-teacher learning

Hutchinson, Steven Andrew (2008). Boundaries, bricolage and student-teacher learning. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis explores the learning opportunities that are presented to student-teachers as they talk about teaching and learning with their school-based mentor and part-time university-based tutor. Against the backcloth of endemic complexity in initial teacher education, the study asks what these conversations tell us about student-teacher learning. What each of these participants talk about, the sources they draw on and the levels of agreement, disagreement or contradiction evident in their conversations with one another are issues that are central to developing an understanding of this research problem and to this thesis.

The thesis adopts an activity theoretical approach, complemented by a social learning theory perspective, to investigate the way that boundaries between university study and the classroom as a site for work-based learning are seen as learning assets. The research is in two phases, the first in the form of a scoping questionnaire which attempts to identify the level of perceived contradiction by student-teachers on a PGCE course and the second in the form of four case studies. A variety of data-gathering tools and methods inform the studies and, in particular, content analysis is used to examine and report on conversations which centre around one taught lesson in each case.

The study reveals understandings about the way that learning opportunities are presented to student-teachers. When teaching is presented as a process of bricolage and when provenance is not fully articulated, opportunities for expansive and systemic learning are restricted. The thesis argues that by looking at student-teacher learning systemically, with a focus on dissonance, student-teacher learning can be enhanced. It concludes with recommendations for the Open University PGCE programme team.

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