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The effect of an early field experience in the middle grades on entering teacher candidates' attitudes toward young adolescents and teaching in the middle grades

Rebecca Lynn Fisher, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This study investigated the effect of the nature of an early field experience at the middle level on entering teacher candidates' attitudes toward young adolescents and teaching in the middle grades. Two groups of K–12 preservice teacher candidates participated in the quasi-experimental study. One group was assigned to a traditional early field experience, and the other was assigned to interact as mentors to small groups of 7th and 8th graders in an interdisciplinary, service-learning, project-based field experience. Preservice teachers' amount of prior interaction with young adolescents was examined as a factor. ^ To answer questions posed by the present study, analyses were conducted to determine teacher candidate's attitudes toward young adolescents before and after the experience utilizing an attitudinal instrument and field experience journals. A second set of analyses were performed to determine the impact of the treatment on change in the preservice teachers' attitude toward teaching this age level. ^ The results suggest that an early field experience of this interdisciplinary nature has no significant effect on preservice teachers' interest in teaching young adolescents. ^ However, statistical significance was obtained when students who began the interdisciplinary, service-learning and project-based early field experience with a medium or high amount of interaction with young adolescents reported their attitude toward young adolescents at the conclusion of the treatment. These two groups possessed a significantly less positive attitude toward young adolescents after their experience than the control group. Qualitative journal data analyses of the treatment group shed light upon this finding, as issues of teacher/mentor role confusion, response to unfamiliar methodology, and subsequent shift in focus from student to self were evident in the journals of those with medium and high levels of prior interaction. ^ Implications for use of early field experiences to implement attitudinal change were discussed along with recommendations for further investigation into the impact of early interdisciplinary field experiences at the middle level. ^

Subject Area

Education, Teacher Training|Education, Secondary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Fisher, Rebecca Lynn, "The effect of an early field experience in the middle grades on entering teacher candidates' attitudes toward young adolescents and teaching in the middle grades" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9997009.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI9997009

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