Peer to Peer: Using the Electronic Discussion Board during Student Teaching

Peer to Peer: Using the Electronic Discussion Board during Student Teaching

Karen J. Johnson (West Chester University, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-897-5.ch004
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Ten elementary education student teachers communicated with each other on an electronic discussion board for thirteen weeks. Despite being overwhelmed at times with the demands of student teaching, participants posted 283 messages offering each other ideas and support. Students were grouped into two different discussion boards based on the grade level they were assigned to student teach, resulting in very specific help and feedback from peers who were experiencing the same or similar teaching topics or situations. Results indicate that 70% of the participants used an idea that had been posted on the discussion board by a peer and 100% of the participants stated that the discussion board was a means of support during student teaching. Although an electronic discussion board is not a new technology, it is underutilized, especially as a means to connect geographically distant student teachers so they can offer each other support and ideas for teaching.
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Hey everyone, I was just wondering... Is anyone else incapable of relaxing and thinking about other things (other than school)? Lately I cannot think about anything but what lessons I have to make, how I can reach my students better, how I can incorporate different ideas and methods into lessons, etc! My social life has officially flown out the window, as a result. I feel constantly stressed about students and the amount of work I have. Is anyone else in the same boat?? I guess I just want to know I'm not alone...! Best of luck! (Posted on 10/26/08)

The above quotation from a student teacher in the middle of her elementary education student teaching placement is a reminder that students often feel isolated from their peers and without a social or emotional group to connect with during this very stressful time in their lives. After studying and preparing for many semesters, teacher education majors who are now student teaching are asked to take everything that they learned and apply it to an actual classroom. Thankfully they are not alone. They are placed in a classroom with an experienced teacher who will hopefully model good teaching practices and provide advice, ideas, and helpful feedback. In addition, student teachers often have a university supervisor observing several lessons each semester, and are available for questions and support. Having the support and advice of peers, however, can be a much-needed and often lacking part of the student teaching equation (Assaf, 2005; Nicholson & Bond, 2003). Although many universities do require their student teachers to attend a seminar on-campus during student teaching, there are often too many things for the group to discuss and individual questions and advice between peers may not fit the time frame. Student teaching supervisors at several colleges of education (Assaf, 2005; Pena & Almaguer, 2007) are beginning to use computer-mediated communication to overcome this obstacle and keep students connected to each other.

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