An Evaluation Of Trainee Teachers' Perceptions Of Mentoring

Burrill, Paul Geoffrey (2003). An Evaluation Of Trainee Teachers' Perceptions Of Mentoring. EdD thesis The Open University.



This thesis on trainee teachers' perceptions of mentoring is concerned with the I Year PGCE (secondary), programme at St. Martin's College, Lancaster, England. The study took place between 1999-2002.

The use of the term mentoring and the set of processes it might involve have been integrated into Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses in little over a decade. There is little published information about trainees' perceptions of mentoring, especially post DfEE 4/98.

The focus for the study was sharpened by key questions that investigated trainees' perceptions of mentoring, mentoring strategies related to the planning, teaching and evaluation of lessons, reflective practice and professional development.

Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used. Building on a pilot study (1999-2000) questionnaire, observational and interview data were collected from trainees in the main study (2000-2001). The entire cohorts of PGCE (sec) Science and Modem Foreign Languages trainees were used in the questionnaire surveys (N = 100) with smaller samples for the interview and observational studies. Data were also collected from school mentors and college tutors, which provided triangulation on perceptions of mentoring from different audiences. Additionally, via letter, 101 Course Leaders of secondary PGCE courses in other ITT institutions in England were contacted. Their responses helped to inform, update and relate this research to a wider field.

The findings show that trainee teachers sometimes had different perceptions of mentoring to their mentors. Most trainees believed that mentoring should be a nurturing process and individual feedback time with mentors and teachers should continue throughout the course and be built into their timetable. Solo teaching was trainees' most valued teaching strategy but this often became a private, lonely and uncertain activity, again signalling the need for formal mentor support and feedback. The strategy of paired teaching practice placements in school departments conveyed advantages to most trainees as it allowed them to support each other both emotionally and with teaching materials. By the end of the course not only had trainees made cuts in lesson preparation time they had often reduced or stopped formalised reflection, such as keeping reflective diaries and writing lesson evaluations.

The new information from this study is used to suggest improvements for PGCE (sec) courses at St. Martin's College. However, due to National similarities in PGCE course structure (DfEE 4/98, DEES 02/02) a number of the findings from this study may also have value, in similar courses, in other ITT institutions.

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