Teacher education is currently facing pressures to demonstrate efficacy in preparing teachers who can affect P-12 student learning gains. Teacher work sampling is one pedagogical framework useful in helping candidates connect their teaching actions to the learning of students. The Cook School District simulation is a web-based environment in which teacher candidates can practice this “connecting teaching and learning” using the framework of teacher work sampling. Though expert-novice investigations were popular during the 1970s and 80s, recent methodological, conceptual, and technical developments have occurred and teacher education may benefit by revisiting these types of studies in an effort to gather empirical knowledge of teacher problem solving and the support of P-12 student learning. In this vein, teacher problem solving was explored using the Cook simulation and important differences between more and less experienced teachers were found on problem framing, problem analyzing, and solution development activities.
Teacher Work Sampling
Teacher work sampling has emerged as a promising methodology useful in articulating the variables of Cochran-Smith’s complex inference chain. When used in concert with candidate level, program level, and candidate learning level data, teacher work sampling attends to important contextual level variables while examining carefully actual teaching practices rather than artificial acts or analyses like micro-teaching events or case-based approaches. Teacher work sampling requires candidates to produce a record of their instructional decision-making including methods, assessments, and P-12 student products indicative of learning. In this way, data emerging from a teacher work sample is very local, focused on actual classroom practice in situ. Teacher work sampling has been lauded for attending to contextual factors such as school and classroom (Popham, 1997) and for looking closely at the work of teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1997).