The Teacher Educator A phenomenological case study of teacher candidate experiences during a yearlong teacher residency program

This phenomenological case study investigated teacher candidates’ experiences in a yearlong undergraduate teacher residency program to identify candidate conceptualizations of the effective design elements of an intentionally created practice-based
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  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at The Teacher Educator ISSN: 0887-8730 (Print) 1938-8101 (Online) Journal homepage: A phenomenological case study of teachercandidate experiences during a yearlong teacherresidency program Daniel James Mourlam, David De Jong, Nicholas J. Shudak & Mark Baron To cite this article:  Daniel James Mourlam, David De Jong, Nicholas J. Shudak & Mark Baron(2019) A phenomenological case study of teacher candidate experiences during a yearlong teacher residency program, The Teacher Educator, 54:4, 397-419, DOI: 10.1080/08878730.2019.1590750 To link to this article: Published online: 26 Sep 2019.Submit your article to this journal View related articles View Crossmark data  A phenomenological case study of teacher candidateexperiences during a yearlong teacher residency program Daniel James Mourlam a , David De Jong b , Nicholas J. Shudak  c , and Mark Baron d a Teacher Residency & Education, University of South Dakota;  b Educational Leadership, University of South Dakota;  c School of Education & Counseling, Wayne State College;  d School of Education &Counseling, University of South Dakota ABSTRACT  This phenomenological case study investigated teacher candidates ’ experiences in a yearlong undergraduate teacher residency programto identify candidate conceptualizations of the effective design ele-ments of an intentionally created practice-based teacher educationprogram. Such experiences are generally characterized by full-yearco-teaching experiences in PK  – 12 classrooms alongside a mentorteacher within a district whose values closely align with the prepar-ation program, while simultaneously taking relevant coursework withsupporting university faculty . Researchers interviewed 16 teachercandidates to develop deeper understandings of the meaningfulstructures of the residency program as manifested through theirexperiences. Through an analysis of candidate statements, multiplekey design elements and candidates ’  perceived impact of the resi-dency were unveiled. Findings demonstrate a paradigmatic challengeto current preparation models, and the potential of practice-basepreparation, in particular teacher residency programs. Introduction Within teacher preparation are calls for reliable and impactful preparation through pro-gramming grounded in core sets of values and demonstrable competencies, practice-basedexperiences, and content knowledge (Arbaugh, Ball, Grossman, Heller, & Monk, 2015).One of the more recent and seemingly substantial trends focuses on intentional fieldexperiences within practice-based preparation programs where the connections betweenwhat candidates are learning and how they apply during teaching and learning are madeovert so that candidates ’  practice can become increasingly more complex (Beasley, Gist, & Imbeau, 2014; Ryan et al., 2014), which have been supported by organizations like the Holmes Group and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (now the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation; Choi, Benson, & Shudak,2016; Clark, 1995). Focusing on teaching practice through intentional field experiences helps ground and guide more theoretically and methodologically laden coursework. Indoing so, teacher candidates (candidates) have opportunities to experience the variedways in which teachers teach and students learn. Through practice-based preparation, as CONTACT  Daniel James Mourlam 414 E Clark St. Vermillion, SD 57069, Teacher Residency& Education, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD 57069-2307.Color versions of one or more of the figures in the article can be found online at   2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC  THE TEACHER EDUCATOR2019, VOL. 54, NO. 4, 397 – 419  Grossman contended (as cited in Arbaugh et al., 2015),  “ teacher education can bundleknowledge and skill together as part of the teaching of core practices ”  (p. 438). Ideally, itis an effort to programmatically bridge theory and practice.The question remains whether these more intensive and intentional practice-based pro-grams make a difference in producing competent and quality candidates. Across andwithin programs, it is difficult to measure outcomes and make comparisons that mightdrive programmatic change and to measure outcomes causally related to programmingand not factors inherent to candidates. This is an enduring dilemma in teacher educationgenerally and a specific challenge to the field: to engage in multiple and varied investiga-tions pertaining to the impact of more practice-based teacher preparation programming.The purpose of this study was to explore what candidates enrolled in a rural yearlongundergraduate residency program believed to be key design elements and their perceivedimpact of these elements on their preparation. This was accomplished by delving deeply into candidate experiences and was guided by the following research questions: What docandidates identify as the key design elements of the yearlong undergraduate teacher resi-dency program in which they are enrolled? What do candidates perceive as the impact of the yearlong undergraduate teacher residency program on their preparation?In addition to phenomenology, situated learning theory (Lave, 1988, 1993; Lave &  Wenger, 1991) provided a theoretical backdrop to the yearlong undergraduate teacherresidency program researched here and arguably can be the foundation for many pro-grams moving to practice-based orientations. According to Stein (1998), situated learningtheory functions under four premises: (a) learning is grounded within daily situationalexperiences; (b) knowledge develops within unique situations and transfers when in simi-lar situations; (c) learning is socially oriented through ways of thinking, perceiving, prob-lem solving, and interacting with others as it relates to declarative and proceduralknowledge; and (d) learning exists among individuals, their actions, and situational expe-riences as a  “ robust, complex, social environment ”  (para. 3). As learners participate in acommunity of practice as an apprentice, the setting provides the structure through whichto understand the world (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Over time, they learn how to become afull participant. Ultimately, situated learning theory helps explain how physical and con-textual learning occurs during such contextual experiences (Brown & Duguid, 1991) andhow the use of situated learning theory can help mitigate the  “ practice shock  ” (Korthagen, 2010, p. 98) many professionals experience during their transition from col-lege to the classroom, a transition many have struggled with, with many teachers leavingthe profession after just a few years (Markow, Macia, & Lee, 2013).The article proceeds by delving into the challenges of practice-based programmingand how residency experiences around the country at the undergraduate and graduatelevels have become a model for practice-based programming, and then discusses theresearch methodology and findings. Limitations of the study and possible directions forfuture research are presented. Challenges of practice-based programming Determining whether intensive and intentional practice-based programming produceseffective novice teachers has challenges. Fundamentally, the question revolves around 398 D. J. MOURLAM ET AL.  whether programming, short-lived as it is in the candidate ’ s overall lifespan, makes adifference. Of concern is the reasonableness thinking a few semesters in a teacher edu-cation program alters lifelong habits of mind and action, which are part of a larger,more enduring enculturation process (McKnight, 2004). In other words, more inten-tionally practice-based approaches should produce more effective novice teachers ready to begin teaching on the first day of school. This process requires systems capable of determining whether the experiences and practices embedded within programs aremeasuring the candidate ’ s improvements in their abilities, knowledge, skills, and mind-sets; an enduring concern.At an elemental level, Seltzer-Kelly (2013) believeed teaching is  “ a matter of sharedpractice that is tacit and deeply contextual in nature rather than of discrete and declara-tive knowledge ”  (p. 134). Clinical or practice-based programs must attend to the con-texts where theory and practice are developed and implemented to avoid a simplified, if not impoverished, view of the design elements and role of field-based experiences inlearning to teach,  “ as programs have become more school-based, the focus of the prep-aration narrows to a more technical focus … ”  (Zeichner & Bier, 2015, p. 37). Beck (2018) described this dilemma as the struggle between finding balance between whatshe describes as first-space preparation that is nearly void of theory and research andsecond-space preparation that loosely connects theory to practice. She advocates forthird-space preparation models, where balance between theory and practice exists, butare difficult to actualize due to the need for continuous improvement based on evidenceand outcomes that are often ambiguous and not aligned with institutional values.Residencies represent a potential third-space preparation model but still lack the empir-ical research to delineate those elements that best prepare candidates and positively impact PK – 12 learners (Beck, 2018). Residency programming becomes the model of practice-based preparation To address the lack of empirical evidence regarding residency programs, currentresearch, including this article, has sought to deeply examine teacher residency pro-gramming, to understand how to structure programs around  “ knowledge for teaching ” and  “ knowledge from teaching ”  (McDonald et al., 2014, p. 500). In this section, findingsfrom the extant literature are reported related to the history of teacher residency pro-grams, the role of school – university partnerships, and how teacher residency programshave emerged in response to the need for more intentional and intensive clinically based experiences that balance both theory and practice. Historical tracings of residency programs In their historical tracing of teacher residency design, Guha, Hyler, and Darling-Hammond (2016) explained  “ the residency design emerged from the Master of Arts inTeaching [MAT] programs started in the 1960s and 1970s — an earlier era of teachershortages — as federally funded innovations at elite colleges and universities ”  (p. 3).Goodlad (1994) further explained the MAT as an alternative post-baccalaureate optionwas  “ pioneered by President James B. Conant of Harvard and administered by a joint  THE TEACHER EDUCATOR 399  board of arts and sciences and education professors, ”  and was the preferred route toteacher certification (p. 157).Generally, MAT programs are yearlong, combining certification-related coursework and fieldwork that complement content knowledge from undergraduate studies. As theMAT was developed, program experimentation occurred in regard to the impact of stu-dent teaching as a variable and design feature with embedded factors impacting teacherdevelopment, including the duration of the student-teaching experience. For example,Nagle (1959) inquired into the effects of the student-teaching experience on shapingattitudes of new teachers, bringing to the fore, perhaps for the first time in an experi-mental way, whether there are design elements within the experience of student teach-ing that help improve attitudes essential for effective teaching.Furthermore, Mahan and Lacefield (1978, p. 4) investigated  “ attitudes toward educa-tion ”  over time when placed in student-teaching experiences with multiple cooperatingteachers for two semesters. Duration, although not treated as a variable, was consideredas a design feature along with having multiple cooperating teachers. Their interest wasin how attitudes toward education develop and change over time during student teach-ing. They found cooperating teachers ’ “  values and attitudes, expressed vocally and/orconcretely presented in their professional conduct, exercise a powerful influence uponthe orientations of their student teachers, ”  indicating that if teacher preparation pro-grams are to be  “ fully successful, the designers should anticipate and understand thenature of this influence ”  (p. 13). This is especially important given that the relationshipscandidates have with cooperating teachers is a factor for positive change (Dumas, 1969). School  – University partnerships In his groundbreaking study,  A Place Called School  , Goodlad (1984) provided insightinto  “ The Partnership , ”  between district superintendents, college presidents, and if pos-sible, a funding body (p. 355).  The Partnership  was a nascent formulation for whatwould become known as school – university partnerships, which when entered intowould create a  “ Center for Pedagogy  ”  and an even more localized professional develop-ment school (PDS; Clark & Smith, 1999). According to Choi et al. (2016), such “ partnerships are forged to make serious inroads toward the improvement of profes-sional practice, schools, and the betterment of their encapsulating communities ” (p. 148).Early residency program experiments, borrowing from the design elements mentionedabove — longer and improved clinical practice with excellent and intentional mentorsand district partners — began to emerge in the early 2000s. According to Gardiner andSalmon (2014) as well as Guha et al. (2016), the  “ country  ’ s first Urban TeacherResidency (UTR) program ”  emerged in the Chicagoland-area through a partnershipwith National Louis University and the Academy for Urban School Leadership (p. 87).Even though the early iterations of that residency program were predicated on a “ situated approach to teacher learning ”  and to thus making strong connections betweencoursework and fieldwork, theory and practice, and between preparation programs anddistrict partners (p. 88)  a las  Goodlad and the PDS models that have come before, asthe program grew, the entropic forces of disconnect grew as well. 400 D. J. MOURLAM ET AL.
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