Cultural perceptions of learning situations : overseas students in their first year of teacher education in New Zealand : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Second Language Teaching at Massey University
This study investigates the perceptions of four overseas student teachers, based on teaching practice observations in their first year of teacher education in a New Zealand College of Education. Data was collected by means of questionnaires, interviews, a semantic differential scale and a stimulated recall procedure. Perceptions of New Zealand learning situations were examined at three points during the year, as the subjects participated in teaching practices. Results from the study relate to the nature, focus, orientation and shifts in the students' perceptions of the target culture. It was found that perceptions were variably focussed on three broad zones of perception, notably teacher/learner roles, the nature of learning and the contextual features of the target learning culture. A number of perception indicators were generated from the data. These included positive perception indicators such as clear conceptualization, strategy formulation, surface assimilation, positive uptake and avoidance of closure, and negative perception indicators relating to partial conceptualization, self doubts, rejection and closure, overlaying, and the lack of effective models. The major outcomes of this study point to the influence of prior beliefs and expectations on perceptions of the target learning culture, as well as the developmental nature of perceptions. In addition, findings reveal the importance of perceptions in the process of acculturation. The study concludes with a number of suggestions for the development of more effective programmes for overseas student teachers.