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Understanding field experiences in traditional teacher preparation programs in Missouri

by Stephen Meyer

The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of field experiences in traditional teacher preparation programs completed by first-year teachers in Missouri and how experiences vary by teaching certificate type. This descriptive study is based on data from a survey administered in early 2015 to first-year teachers in Missouri public schools who completed traditional teacher preparation programs. Findings show that first-year teachers had field experiences that varied substantially in duration and diversity, and that experiences varied for teachers with different types of teaching certificates. Most first-year teachers reported that their student teaching experiences aligned with their career teaching plans and first teaching assignments. Perceptions of the quality of resources and support in field experience schools were generally positive and first-year teachers reported frequent professional collaboration. Parent and community interaction during field experiences was less frequent. Observation and feedback activities during field experiences were frequent and first-year teachers engaged in a variety of instructional activities. Findings suggest that state and program administrators in Missouri and elsewhere may wish to monitor field experiences closely to ensure that expectations are met. Survey data suggest potential areas of focus including interaction with parents and community during field experiences; selection, training, and expectations of teacher candidate mentors; connections between course pedagogy to field experiences; and collaboration between teacher preparation programs and preK-12 schools. The survey developed for this study provides a data collection tool that can be adopted or adapted by state and teacher preparation program administrators and used as part of a system for monitoring program implementation. Detailed information about the implementation of teacher preparation programs may be used in future research on aspects of teacher preparation that are associated with more positive outcomes for program completers and their preK-12 students. The following are appended: (1) Data and methodology; (2) Response rate calculation and nonresponse bias analysis results; (3) Survey; (4) Data tables: Full sample analyses; and (5) Data tables: Subgroup analyses. Contains notes. [The Office of Educator Quality at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis at the University of Missouri supported this study and shared data.]

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