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A mixed methods study exploring strengths-based mentoring in clinical practice and student teacher development

Matthew R Moehle, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

As teacher education programs further emphasize clinical experiences, the role of university student teaching supervisor becomes increasingly important, as does research on supervision practices. Practitioners and researchers in the fields of positive psychology, management, and teacher education have argued that mentors who employ characteristics of strengths-based practices may best foster mentee development. This mixed methods study explored university supervisors’ mentoring practices from a strengths-based perspective to determine if the mentoring approach used had any association with changes in student teachers’ resilience, academic optimism, teacher sense of efficacy, pupil-control ideology, and teacher locus of control. An approach based on the data transformation variant of a convergent mixed method design was used. Participants included 42 student teachers in elementary, middle grades, secondary, and P-12 undergraduate teacher education programs and their university supervisors, all from one university in Appalachia. Based on quantitative analysis of survey responses from student teachers in this population, academic optimism increased and resilience and teacher locus of control decreased. Qualitative analysis resulted in a theoretical model describing how approaches to supervision emerged among university supervisors and how supervision practices varied in terms of strengths-based characteristics. Data transformation of the qualitative data resulted in a single categorical quantitative variable indicating if supervisors’ used a strengths-focused, neutral, or deficit-focused approach. Based on trends in the mixed data, a strengths-focused approach to supervision may have a positive association with changes in student teachers’ academic optimism, pupil control ideology, and teacher sense of efficacy. A deficit-focused approach may be associated with an increase in internal teacher locus of control. Data is included to show correlations among and between pretest and posttest scores for resilience, academic optimism, teacher sense of efficacy, pupil-control ideology, and teacher locus of control. A discussion of the findings suggests that the approach used by a university supervisor, a student teacher’s previous employment experiences with children, the student teacher’s gender, and the local culture had an association with differences in student teachers’ development. Suggested implications of the findings also include the need for more research on student teacher supervision and the need for forums to discuss student teacher supervision practices.^

Subject Area

Education, Teacher Training

Recommended Citation

Moehle, Matthew R, "A mixed methods study exploring strengths-based mentoring in clinical practice and student teacher development" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3450107.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3450107

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