Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Education

First Advisor

Vivian L. Gadsden

Abstract

Fieldwork has historically played an important role within teacher education. Most often these experiences in schools are depicted as sites for developing teachers to gain insight into the practice of teaching. Research into fieldwork as a context for teacher learning, however, has traditionally focused on the learned outcomes, and less on how teachers have experienced and self-described these places of study (Zeichner, 2010, 2012; Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005; Ball & Forzani, 2009). This year-long study explored how students in a literacy education program conceptualized the space of fieldwork as part of their teacher education program. Specifically, the study explored how students made sense of - individually and collectively within an inquiry community -field experiences in relation to coursework, to their own ongoing inquiries, and to their developing identities as teachers. I approached this work from a conceptual framework grounded within three strands: literacy as sociocultural practice; narrative inquiry; and critical feminisms. Data sources included fieldnotes, analytic memos, interview transcripts, and artifact analysis.

The research provides insights into how fieldwork is conceptualized as a space of learning within teacher education. During their participation in an inquiry group, and in individual interviews, participants routinely described their goals for fieldwork, their impressions for what was expected of them, and how classroom experiences influenced their perspectives on literacy education, urban education, and teaching more broadly. In particular I analyzed how fieldwork functioned as a space that was both integrated and separated from other spaces of learning in the teacher education program. I critically examined how these narratives were embedded within larger discourses around schooling, teacher education, and school-university partnerships; these stories offer new insights into how fieldwork experiences are integrated into teacher learning, and present a far more complicated image of fieldwork learning than is often reflected in the literature. Furthermore, the collaborative learning within the inquiry group demonstrates the importance of creating spaces for sustained, critical dialogue in connection to field experiences. The study offers new ways of conceptualizing fieldwork that takes into account the inherently relational work of these spaces, highlighting the importance of how fieldwork is integrated and framed within teacher education.

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