The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Teaching Practice at an Open Distance Learning Institution: A Case Study
AbstractTo meet the demands in an era of career-oriented education, the training of future teachers through Open Distance Learning must be scrutinised to see if it meets these demands. Especially the teaching practice aspect of training teachers through Open Distance Learning offers its own unique challenges to ensure that student teachers gain the best possible teaching experiences during this period. This is due to the Open Distance Learning environment where there is a distance in space and time between the lecturers responsible for the Teaching Practice modules and the student teachers doing their practical teaching at different schools. Teaching Practice modules are grounded in situated and experiential learning experiences. The theoretical frameworks for this study are experiential learning and situated learning theory. The data were collected from student teachers busy with their final year BEd (Intermediate Phase and Senior Phase) who had already completed their five weeks teaching practice for each of the four years. By taking note of the answers supplied by these student teachers, the lecturers endeavour to better understand the context of teaching practice within an Open Distance Learning context/environment. The data presented the following themes: students’ experiences, the mentoring process and empowerment, and finally the feasibility of conducting teaching practice at a distance. This also assists the lecturers in attending to any problems or difficulties that the student teachers identified and enables them to concentrate and build upon the positive aspects regarding their Teaching Practice modules. The findings are important as a basis for further recommendations to improve student teachers’ successes during their teaching practice period within the framework of an Open Distance Learning environment.
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