In general, teaching practices in institutions of higher education function as they should and without any real problems. Nevertheless, this study lends a hand in finding bottle-necks in teaching practices as well as possible solutions related to practices’ organization, volume, cost, needs, and hazards.
Not every time the organization of practice can be said to be transparent and easily found from the documents, as is often also the case with the work load and –volume of the practice’s supervisor. Frequently, problems in organizing teaching practices arise from the lack of people involved with it as one person has to take care of many different tasks. The study shows that even more various than the work load allocated to supervisors is their fee for it.
As one of the study’s authors, Laura Kirss, says, “Supervising is one of the key factors of pedagogical practice as it determines the effectiveness of the practice.”
In regard to supervising, two main aspects require attention. Firstly, clear quality requirements are not always set for supervisors from practice institutions. Secondly, not all students have a supervisor from both school and practice place while carrying out their practice.
There are also two important deficiencies concerning funding. In many higher education institutions, the funding model of pedagogical practice is opaque and it is difficult to get a clear overview of practice costs. In addition, funding pedagogical practice is insufficient.
To improve teaching practice organization and quality, the following could be done:
- associate practice’s purposes, tasks, and teacher’s professional skills more clearly for the student according to practice’s phases;
- diversify opportunities for documenting different practice tasks;
- find more opportunities for cooperation between higher education institutions;
- pay more attention to education in rural areas;
- ensure students have supervisors from both school and practice place;
- increase individual feedback given to the student;
- officially settle on the work load of supervisors;
- explain the value of practice to practice places;
- ensure the transparency of pedagogical practice’s funding model;
- equalize practice’s funding models in schools with several different teacher training programmes.
Appendix 1. Comparison of teacher training programmes (final)
Appendix 2. Subjects of pedagogical practice (final)
Appendix 3. Summary of the morning of thoughts on pedagogical practice 02.04.2012
(All appendices are in Estonian)