Examining Student Behaviors in and Perceptions of Traditional Field-Based and Virtual Models of Early Field Experiences

Examining Student Behaviors in and Perceptions of Traditional Field-Based and Virtual Models of Early Field Experiences

Hyo-Jeong So (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Emily Hixon (Purdue University Calumet, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1906-7.ch016
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore preservice teachers’ behaviors in and perceptions of traditional field-based and virtual models of early field experiences. Specifically, this study examined some of the strengths and limitations associated with each model. Fifty undergraduate students participated in either a traditional field-based or a virtual field experience and completed an online questionnaire that examines various behaviors and student perspectives related to each model of early field experiences. The virtual field experiences include activities in the Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF), a web-based environment where students can observe and discuss diverse pedagogical practices and conceptual issues captured in a collection of video-based classrooms. The results of this study suggest that a virtual field experience which utilizes video-based cases may promote reflective practices which could be especially valuable to students early in their teacher education program. In addition, this study suggests that the strengths and limitations of each format need to be considered in relation to the goals and objectives of the early field experience, and discusses the possibility of a hybrid model of field experiences.
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Introduction

A typical component of most teacher education programs are early field experiences where preservice teachers are placed in local schools to observe for a set amount of time over the course of a semester. Since there may be multiple classes that include field-based components and all preservice teachers must also be placed for student teaching, many universities and colleges find that the local schools are becoming overwhelmed with the number of preservice teachers in their buildings. To alleviate some of this burden, some universities have begun exploring alternatives to the traditional format of early field experiences. One such option is a technology-enhanced or virtual field experience that utilizes various technological tools such as online discussion forums, video-based cases and virtual simulations.

Before universities adopt such a program, it is important to understand how the experience of the student completing the technology-enhanced field experience compares with that of the student completing the traditional field-based experience. This study is designed to explore students’ experiences in and perceptions of the different field experience settings and attempt to understand some of the mechanisms underlying student views.

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