There is a dominant paradigm of teacher education within the teaching profession; that only through the experience of undertaking professional practice can a student become a teacher. This approach, the ‘apprenticeship of observation’ model describes the way in which teacher education students are encouraged to model their teaching practice and strategies on the experienced teachers they encounter during their teacher education programs. This approach however tends to minimise other dispositional factors occurring before, during and after teacher education programs, such as an intern’s capacity to internalise and modify behaviour when encountering new situations. Importantly, the impact of metacognitive development on an intern’s professional identity formation may be overlooked by observers. There is little explicit attention given to the mentor teacher’s conception of a metacognitive basis for this reaction, rather the explanation is experiential and instructional in nature. Additionally, while some research has occurred into the way in which social support networks support positive identity formation, this theme is yet to be fully explored. In order to illuminate both the professional identity and metacognitive development of interns, an RHD project will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to provide a framework for measuring these factors and evaluate their relative importance for success within an internship. When considering the interaction between learned experience and metacognitive development, current teachers and teacher educators are not generally in agreement as to the relative importance of these factors. Teachers approach their work from an instructional/procedural position, and teacher educators often emphasise the importance of other factors that impact on teaching practice, such as pedagogy, psychology and an understanding of social groupings as impacting on a teacher’s success within a classroom environment. Importantly, teachers may view these emphases with suspicion as it can be interpreted that their role within the classroom is of little benefit to their students, which in turn may diminish their professional worth and status. By stressing the experiential component of teacher education, teachers are therefore able to maintain a gatekeeper attitude to prevent unwelcome newcomers to their ranks who may be inclined to view professionalism differently. An alternative approach to this is to consider the influence of mentor teachers on the metacognitive development of interns, that is, the automaticity of reactions to events through rehearsal and effective strategy choice. It can also be posited that metacognitive development is a necessary precursor to professional identity formation and socialisation into the teaching profession. By analysing interns’ interaction with teachers, it may be possible to discern the way in which teachers, implicitly or explicitly, require an intern to model their teaching practice on that which is observed. As such, an examination of the relationship between the factors which influence socialisation of interns and the way in which they describe their development may demonstrate higher order metacognitive awareness in interns. In order to evaluate this development, qualitative responses derived from participating interns’ responses to asynchronous online discussion boards will be triangulated with third party evaluations of the interns’ progress via their final internship report. Additionally, quantitative analysis of participating interns’ final report may provide an opportunity to develop a hypothesis as to whether interns who use a social support network are more or less likely to experience success in their internship, and how they interpret such success prior to receiving their reports. The assessment criteria within these reports may provide a useful third party perception of the intern’s socialisation and cognitive development which may prove useful in developing a framework for understanding the nature of teacher identity through the internship.
37th Annual Conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association - Crossing Borders: Cultures, Contexts, Communities and Curriculum, Australian Teacher Education Association Annual Conference Proceedings Archive, Vol. - (Albury, NSW 28 June - 01 July, 2009) p. 1-13