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About the Project

The focus of the Project

Central to initial teacher education programs is the professional experience or practicum placement. The diverse and variable nature of practice settings, as well as the subjective nature of the professional judgements involved, also means that consistent and equitable assessment presents numerous challenges and stress for many supervising/mentor teachers. Accurate assessment of preservice teachers’ knowledge and capabilities is a critical issue for all stakeholders in teacher education: teacher educators; supervising/mentor teachers in schools; preservice teachers; credentialing authorities; and employers.

The focus of Project Evidence has been to identify, describe and investigate the circumstances and characteristics of assessment practices in the field of preservice teacher education. The intent of this website has developed from the research of the Project Team around assessment during the professional experience component.

The Project investigated the following questions

  1. How do experienced teachers make their judgements about preservice teachers under their supervision?
  2. What is the shared knowledge that supervising teachers bring to these judgements?
  3. How can this knowledge be made available to ensure consistency of judgements across the different stages of the professional experience and help preservice teachers meet specific Professional Standards?

The results of the project have enabled the team to

  1. Document evidence that informs the decisions made by experienced supervising teachers in their assessments of preservice teachers’ performance during professional experience; and then to link these to
  2. experienced supervising teachers’ interpretations of the Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers in terms of elaborations of the knowledge, practices, and dispositions expected; and finally from these
  3. Develop inventories of knowledge and practice linked to those Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers to contribute to the development of consistency when making judgements across the different stages of preservice professional experience. The inventories provide a basis for discussions in schools – among those who supervise – and on campus among teacher educators and preservice teachers – thus enabling shared understandings of evidence and informed judgements around what constitutes the demonstration of specific Australian Professional Standards.
The Design of Project

This website is the result of a two year Project which included

  • 3 States (SA, Vic and Qld) focusing specifically on the Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers (1-5).
  • The project included school-based teacher educators (30) from 15 schools and university teacher educators (6) from 4 universities
  • The importance of building productive relationships between university education courses and schools was highlighted in the development and conduct of the project. Both are sites of teaching, learning and assessment for the preservice teacher. The research design gave priority to incorporating shared understandings of experienced teachers, the preservice teachers and higher education academics in teacher education programs.
  • As a result, the design was based on a collaborative, iterative process, using strategies that:
    1. acknowledged the experiences of all stakeholders;
    2. would develop resources informed by the ideas and practices from communities of experienced teachers and preservice teachers;
    3. would enable the knowledge and best practice about professional learning to be shared rather than limited to single sites.

The Project established three state-based communities of researchers each facilitated by two members of the project team. The members of each group were selected based on their record as experienced and expert school-based supervising mentor teachers who supported the professional development of student teachers during their pracs in their particular school sites.

Communities of Reflective Practitioners (CoRP)

The framework of the Project is “communities of practice”, the basis of which as Buysse, Sparkman and Wesley (2003) explain, is the promotion of dialogue and inquiry for the purpose of supporting a learning environment in which practice is improved. Our communities became referred to as ‘communities of reflective practitioners’ (CoRP). The basis of CoRP collaborations were various; central to their purpose, however, was resolving tensions that routinely affect the learning and assessment of preservice teachers during school-based learning.

Learning communities allow participants to actively reflect on their own practices through dialogue with their peers (Le Cornu, 2009).

The school-based teacher participants in this project have been engaged for 18 months working with the project team:

  • to examine the influences, issues and evidence that affect decision making when assessing preservice teachers’ achievement of the Professional Standards;
  • to explore the implications of these for practice by teacher educators both in schools and in universities now and in the future, and
  • to develop suggestions of appropriate types of evidence of achievement of particular elements of the Australian Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers to support professional experience assessment decisions.

Each state-based CoRP has participated in four full day workshops that incorporated three central elements required for effective professional collaboration and knowledge building:

  • knowledge is generated and shared within a social and cultural context (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Palinscar, Magnusson, Marano, Ford, & Brown, 1998; Barab & Duffy, 2000; Le Cornu, 2009);
  • understanding and experience are in constant interaction (Schon,1983, Buysse, Sparkman & Wesley, 2003; Francis, Newham & Harkam, 2005; Le Cornu, 2009);
  • reflection and critical thinking is enabled through interaction (Wenger, 1998; Le Cornu, 2009).
The Project Team

Cheryl SimCheryl Sim is Associate Professor and Director of Teacher Education and Professional Practice at Griffith University, Brisbane. Her research and teaching focus is the professional learning of early career teachers, in particular the influences of educational communities on the development of knowledge and understandings of teaching.

ill FreibergJill Freiberg, Lecturer in Teacher Education in the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, Brisbane, applies qualitative research methods in sociology to studies of educational assessment, workplace communication, secondary English curriculum, critical literacy, and mass media

Andrea AllardAndrea Allard is Associate Professor and Course Coordinator of the Master of Teaching in the School of Education, Deakin University. Her most recent research and teaching foci are on social justice initiatives, professional identities and authentic assessment in initial teacher education.

Simone WhiteSimone White is Chair of Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Simone is currently the President of the Australian Teacher Education Association. She leads the Teacher Education Faculty Research Group. Simone’s publications, research and teaching are focused on the key question of how to best prepare teachers for diverse communities. Her projects focus on such aspects as professional learning, teacher education curriculum and building effective school-university partnerships.

Rosie le CornuRosie le Cornu is Associate Professor of Teacher Education in the School of Education at the University of South Australia. She has written extensively on professional experience, with publications ranging from an emphasis on peer mentoring, inclusivity, the use of ICTs, reculturing and learning communities.

Briony CarterBriony Carter is the Professional Experience Coordinator/Lecturer:Education in the School of Education at the University of South Australia. Briony’s position enables her to be directly involved with planning, implementation and evaluation of professional experience courses. Her role involves working with industry partners which include the various schooling sectors. This work fulfils her on-going commitment to lifelong learning and the desire to improve the educational outcomes of her students.

Jeanne Allen Jeanne Allen is an Associate Professor and Academic Director of Professional Experience at Deakin University. Her work in initial teacher education (ITE) since 2005, in three universities across three Australian States, has provided her with first-hand experience in, and a sound understanding of ITE stakeholder needs in the national arena. Her areas of research interest include school-university partnerships and work-integrated learning, with a particular focus on examining and negotiating the links between the university preparation of pre-service teachers and the workplace practices of the profession.

Wayne LangWayne Lang is a Lecturer in ICT Education and Co-ordinator of Professional Experience in the Faculty of Arts, Education and Law at Griffith University. Wayne’s teaching, scholarship and service are primarily focussed on the use of ICT to enhance teacher productivity and student outcomes.

Key Readings

Barab,S.A. & Duffy, T.M. (2000). From practice fields to communities of practice. In D.H.Jonassen and S.M. Land (Eds), Theoretical foundations of learning environments, pp 25-55. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Buysse,V., Sparkman,K. & Wesley, P. (2003). Communities of Practice: Connecting What We Know With What We Do. Exceptional Children 69 (3), 263-277.

Francis, G., Newham, M., & Harkin, M. (2005). The Australian Government Quality Teacher programme (AGQTP): Cross-sectoral Strategic Plan 2006-2009. Retrieved February 12, 2006 from agqtp_2006-2009_cs_strategic_plan.doc

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Le Cornu, R. (2009). Building resilience in pre-service teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5), 717-723. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2008.11.016

Palinscar, A.S., Magnusson, S.J., Marano, N., Ford, D., & Brown, N. (1998). Designing a community of practice: Principles and practices of the GIsML community. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14, 5-19.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, K: Cambridge University Press.