This is a report of an investigation of aspects of preservice teachers' perceptions of teaching and learning English and mathematics and factors influencing them. The participants of the investigation were primary preservice teachers from two tertiary institutions of Victoria, one located inner city, and the other in a regional centre. Of the 349 participants, 163 were commencing and 186 were graduating from their degrees. Preservice teachers completed questionnaires indicating their intentions to use particular practices in their literacy and numeracy lessons. Thirty-one of the 349 surveyed voluntarily discussed key issues arising from the survey during semi-structured audiotaped sessions. Five lecturers responsible for the planning of the compulsory English and mathematics education units at both institutions were interviewed about the survey data and provided written documentation for their units as evidence of their coursework. Data analyses indicated that preservice teachers often considered practices equally appropriate for literacy and numeracy teaching and intended to use them in similar ways. It seemed that preservice teachers enter their degrees with strong opinions about teaching and learning based not only on their recollections of experiences as learners but also from more recent relevant experiences such as their dealings with children as babysitters, tutors, and classroom helpers. They also gained knowledge about teaching contexts from their informal but regular conversations with friends and family who teach. From the examination of the documentation for coursework and discussions with lecturers, it seemed that the content of the literacy and numeracy education units at the two institutions were similar. Overall, the data indicated that many of the preservice teachers' intentions were consistent with the intent of coursework especially when they described general teaching practices. However, in cases where practices were discipline-specific there were limited changes in preservice teachers' intentions even after completing their courses. The prospective teachers reported that they considered their recent salient experiences of teaching and their observations of teachers' practices in schools more influential than coursework.
Scott, Anne L
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