Engaging pupils during students’ teaching practice exercise

Marais and Meier (2014) asserted that students’ capacity to leverage quality is immense provided students are given the right tools at the time and clarity on the objectives of their engagement. Student engagement can take different forms (on platforms, on boards, broad student satisfaction surveys, “instant feedback” techniques etc.).

Student engagement is most powerful as a driver of quality teaching when it involves dialogue, and not only information on the student’s experience. As students are the intended beneficiaries of quality teaching, they are able to provide crucial “customer feedback” not only on what works well but also on what they would like to be done differently and how (Pomerantz & Pierce, 2009).

Toh (2012) agreed that obtaining constructive feedback from students is not a straightforward initiative since students may be reluctant to take up such a role and they may be dubious about the added-value of their contributions and believe that their views will be ignored. These concerns may be compounded if it is difficult for them to see evidence of action as a result of the various evaluations they participate in. It is therefore crucial to render students’ evaluations meaningful to them if they are to be useful to the institution in promoting teaching quality.

Some students may underestimate the constraints that institutions face and expect unrealistic changes.  Others may be inclined to approach evaluation as a political issue and take a more obstructive than constructive attitude to it. From their side, the academic community might be hesitant to entrust students with a role in contributing to or critiquing academic-related matters, not least because of concerns about the reliability and fairness of some instruments for gathering student feedback. In some settings, academics might also be concerned that some students might use evaluation of their teachers as a bargaining chip, for example, to seek a higher assessment grade (Thomas, 2006).

Despites these obstacles, Salsbury and Schoenfedt (2008) stated that it is worth recalling that students everywhere in the world are continuously making their own assessments of their teaching and learning experience, whether or not they have a channel through which to express them. Such insights provide an extremely valuable input to the process of improving quality teaching, but only if collected and analysed in an appropriate way.

References

Marais, P. & Meier, C. (2014). Hear our voices: Student teachers’ experiences during practical teaching. Africa Education Review, 1(2), 220-233.

Pomerantz, F. & Pierce, M. (2014). From literacy methods classes to the real world: Experiences of pre-service teachers. New England Reading Association Journal, 40(2), 55-62.

Salsbury, D.E. & Schoenfeldt, M. (2008). Lesson Planning: A Research-Based Model for K-12 Classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall.

Thomas, P. (2006). Pre-service practicum teaching in Central Asia: A positive experience for both worlds. Journal of Social Studies Research, 30(1), 21-25.

Toh, W.S. (2012). Practicum Student Teachers’ Educational Beliefs and its Relationship to the School and Classroom Environment. Paper presented at the National Educational Profession Seminar 2002, Bangi, June 3-4.

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