Longitudinal analysis of teacher education: the case of history teachers
Martell, Christopher Charles
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In the United States, learning history has traditionally been rooted in a transmission-oriented view of teaching and learning. From this perspective, teachers transfer their historical knowledge to their students. Alternatively, this dissertation positions itself within constructivist theories of teaching and learning, where learning is a process of knowledge construction and students make meaning from their experiences. This dissertation seeks to advance our understanding of how social studies teachers with constructivist beliefs learn to teach school history and the influence that teacher education has, or does not have, on their constructivist beliefs and related practices. This interpretive study employed a multiple-case design that examined the development of four beginning history teachers over time. Data were collected longitudinally from the beginning of the participants' student teaching until the end of their first year in the classroom. Through a qualitative cross-case analysis of interviews, observations, classroom artifacts, and written reflections, this study had several key findings. First, issues of historical content knowledge and classroom control were major barriers for implementation of constructivist-oriented practices in beginning teachers' classrooms. Second, contrary to some previous studies, learning to teach in transmission-oriented contexts did not result in the diminishing ofbeginning teachers' constructivist beliefs. Through reflective practice, these teachers used their experiences to advance their understanding of teaching. Third, although these teachers developed strong conceptual tools in their teacher preparation program, they expressed a lack of practical tools, which could have helped them better and more frequently use constructivist-oriented practices in their classroom. Finally, lack of practical tools expanded into the teachers' inability to teach for historical thinking and historical inquiry, two constructivist-oriented concepts in history education.
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