Mike Martin - The Application of Phenomenology to Explore Pre-Service Teachers Experience of Placement in School

This is one of the papers from our 2017 Annual Conference, the Future of Phenomenology. Information and the full conference booklet can be found at www.britishphenomenology.org.uk

This paper reports on the practical application of phenomenology in exploring the experience of pre-service teachers during their school placement as part of their course of teacher education. Whilst there has been much written about teacher education as a whole, there is relatively little research focused specifically on the experience of pre-service teachers as they work through their time in school. For this study, individual interviews were carried out with eleven participants on three separate occasions as part of doctoral work into the development of their subject knowledge. The paper will begin with an overview of the context of school experience where individuals enter new environments, developing relationships with staff and pupils, get to grips with unfamiliar systems and routines as well as acquiring new knowle dge about their subject(s). The paper will then critique some of the existing ways of looking at placement such as community of practice, activity theory and social constructivism that all frame the experience within relatively pre-determined structures. This paper then highlights the value of phenomenology in bringing new insights about what takes place, and the experience of the individuals. It will also discuss the importance of making appropriate choices, based on value judgments about which phenomenological traditions and perspectives might prove fruitful. One of the most significant challenges for the study was in making choices about the processes of data explication given the various traditions within phenomenology and the significant figures such as Husserl and Heidegger who have come to represent seemingly different approaches. For researchers new to phenomenology it is necessary to develop a full understanding of this and the paper will highlight some of the challenges met. Finally the findings of the research study will be presented and ideas for further study discussed.


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