Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

Enhancing Teacher Candidate Success through Experiential Learning Experiences
Sarah McMahan, Peggy Malone, Rebecca Fredrickson, Karen Dunlap

If colleges of education are to effectively prepare teacher candidates for entrance and sustainability within 21st century classrooms, it is essential they provide experiential learning opportunities in authentic settings for novice educators to practice their craft. Often, this takes place during courses inclusive of observation hours taken prior to the student-teaching experience. During this time, preservice teachers view what traditionally have been considered the essential skills; however, in this day and age of high stakes testing and teacher accountability mastery of a wider array of skills is expected. This study examines two distinctly different student observation formats. In the first configuration, teacher candidates (after observation approval has been granted by a school district of their choosing) complete tasks given to them by the course instructor under the supervision of their assigned mentor teacher. In the second, students are cohorted and all members complete their structured fieldbased hours with a mentor teacher at the same partnership school. Novice educators in this formation may interact with students and mentor teachers in multiple classrooms; thus drawing on a larger range of professional expertise. This study contributes to the body of research focused on collaborative school partnerships by providing a comparison of teacher candidate field experiences in both traditional and collaborative, cohorted settings. Finding suggest that teacher candidates who participate in a cohorted group in a similarly structured classroom environment prior to student teaching are more apt to engage in deeper conversations and have more meaningful opportunities when they student teach.

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