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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding the Thoughts and Actions of Three Science Undergraduates Related to Teaching and Learning During a One-year Program Working with Diverse Youth
by Morago, Shannon, Ed.D., University of California, Davis, 2015, 202; 10036023
Abstract (Summary)

Particular teaching practices, where the teacher is the authority, and the students are passive recipients of knowledge and spend time memorizing prescribed facts, are not as effective at providing opportunities to learn as are classroom learning experiences where students are active seekers of knowledge and the teacher is the facilitator. Pre-service teachers may hear these generalizations in their teacher preparation programs, but they do not often implement learning conditions where students actively seek knowledge. When they do, they tend to abandon this type of teaching during their first years of practice. This study sought to understand the thoughts and actions related to teaching and learning of three science undergraduates interested in teaching during a one-year program focused on meeting the learning needs of diverse youth.

Study participants worked in a group to prepare and teach six lessons at different public schools serving diverse youth. Participants took turns teaching the lesson while the others observed the pupils and collected data on their engagement and understanding. After each lesson enactment, participants met to discuss how the lesson should be modified at its next enactment based on the data collected about pupils. Participants wrote a final summary report of their experience in the program.

Data were collected using qualitative methodology. Each participant was interviewed three times over the course of the program. Drawings made by each participant of a typical day teaching in their future were collected three times as well as three responses to a teaching scenario. All lessons and meetings were observed. A final summary report was submitted and utilized as data.

Results included four key findings. First, the participants came to understand more active student learning was a pedagogically sound practice, resulting in more student engagement and potentially leading to greater student understanding. Second, their assessments continued to rely on recall, even when the lesson in general had students discovering the information in context. The participants were unable to fully conceptualize student learning as a process of meaning making, and were unable to develop an assessment based on this understanding. Third, reflection was an integral part of the learning process for the study participants. Group reflection on lessons and individual reflection on student action were powerful factors in learning. Finally, participants eventually demonstrated a keen awareness of the need for developing an understanding of the youth they would teach.

Two main conclusions were drawn from this study. First, opportunities to observe students and reflect on student action are important aspects of learning to teach and should be incorporated and made a priority in teacher preparation programs. Second, a focus on the engagement of diverse youth during a lesson may provide the opportunity to reflect on student learning and resistance to learning. The participants in this study did not employ deficit based thinking as explanation for resistance. Although it remained unclear exactly why they did not, it seemed to be related to their goal of engaging students, which appears to have put the responsibility on them as teachers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Heckman, Paul
Commitee: Kurlaender, Michal, Montera, Viki
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education, Teacher education, Secondary education
Keywords: Diverse youth, Learning, One-year, Preservice teacher, Science, Teaching, Thoughts, Undergraduates, Working
Publication Number: 10036023
ISBN: 978-1-339-54199-0
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