Theory to practice : is there a real connection for teachers in teacher education? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, College of Education, Te Kupenga o Te Matauranga, School of Arts, Development and Health Education, Health and Physical Education
The purpose of this study was to examine the process of learning to teach, which is the focus and objective of the one year Diploma of Teaching (Secondary), and to assess whether education in theory can make a difference in graduate teacher competence. Questionnaires and semi structured interviews were used to ascertain the perceptions of student and beginning teachers on how well theory and practice are integrated in the Diploma programme. The study would indicate that student teachers appear to see little relevance of theory to classroom practice. The study also suggests that student teachers believe that the majority of learning occurs in classrooms during the practical teaching experience and consider that the mastery of management is the most crucial factor of teaching. The research also sought to establish to what extent students bring established beliefs with them to University and the extent to which their perceptions of what constitutes an effective teacher. It was apparent that student teachers had, at least in the beginning, established opinions based on their own experiences as school students, about what constitutes an effective teacher. These student teachers also claim that associate teachers varied hugely in their ability to support and give feedback to student teachers in the classroom, and indicated that it was difficult for the college tutors to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The findings of the study will suggest fundamental changes need to be made to the organisational structure of teacher education in order to meet the needs of the modern teacher with modern classrooms.