What they see : noticings of secondary science cooperating teachers as they observe pre-service teachers

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2013-05

Authors

Rodriguez, Shelly R.

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Abstract

This dissertation explores what cooperating secondary science teachers attend to during observations of pre-service teachers as they enact lessons in their classrooms and how they make sense of what they see. This study applies the teacher noticing framework, recently used in research with mathematics, to the secondary science context and uses it to describe teacher attention. The study also aims to determine if cooperating teachers use the act of noticing to engage in pedagogical reasoning and draw connections to their own teaching practice. As an interpretive qualitative study, the format for data collection and analysis utilized a case-study methodology with cross-case analysis, and used semi-structured interviews, lesson debriefs, collected artifacts, and classroom observations. Data on the four study participants was collected over the 2011-2012 school year. Findings support several conclusions. First, the cooperating science teachers in this study regularly engaged in reflection and pedagogical reasoning through the act of noticing. Second, the cooperating teachers made regular connections to their own practice in the form of vicarious suggestions, reflective questions, comparisons of practice, and perspective shifts. These connections fostered the emergence of "pivotal moments" or times when the cooperating science teacher self-identified a desire to change their current practice. Third, cooperating teachers used observations of pre-service teachers in their classrooms as a form of professional experimentation and built knowledge in practice through the experience. Lastly, the findings suggest that observations of pre-service teachers be added to the list of professional development activities, like video analysis and lesson study, that help teachers reflect on their own practice. For science teacher educators, this study demonstrates the importance of attending to field experiences as a learning opportunity for the science cooperating teacher. It provides a new way of looking at classroom observations as professional development opportunities and it recommends that teacher preparation programs reconceptualize the tasks they ask cooperating teachers to engage in. Suggestions include designing observation tools that direct teacher noticing toward student learning in science, viewing cooperating science teachers as learners, including metacognitive activities for cooperating science teachers, and reorienting lesson debriefs toward a notion of classroom inquiry.

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