Preparing Teacher Candidates to Teach in Secondary Schools Through Socratic Case-Based Approaches

Preparing Teacher Candidates to Teach in Secondary Schools Through Socratic Case-Based Approaches

Alpana Bhattacharya (Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7172-9.ch005
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Socratic instructional approaches for teacher preparation have been endorsed by teacher education programs across the globe for several decades. This chapter describes Socratic case-based teacher preparation in an undergraduate educational psychology course in the United States. Collaborative dialogues, inductive questions, and reasoning are key Socratic strategies used as instructional approaches for promoting teacher candidates' critical thinking and reflective teaching through case-based analysis. Two forms of case-based learning, face-to-face (synchronous) textual case analysis, and computer-mediated (asynchronous) video cases analysis is illustrated and supported with evidence-based theoretical frameworks and research findings. Effectiveness of Socratic case-based teacher preparation is determined via quantitative and qualitative evaluation of teacher candidates' collaborative oral case analysis reports and individual written case analysis reports. Recommendations for strengthening Socratic case-based teacher preparation and future research initiatives are discussed.
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Teaching is a complex process and teachers have to have the wherewithal to interpret diverse classroom situations and select effective pedagogical approaches for addressing vital classroom conditions (Frommelt et al., 2019). Teaching, in other words, is multidimensional, and requires that teachers make impromptu decisions, think deeply, ask authentic questions, debate ideas, articulate their own positions, do research, and build communities (Schwarz, 2016). Therefore, teacher educators not only have to build teacher candidates’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills, but also professional dispositions (e.g., empathy, social justice, and self-reflection) in order for them to provide equitable instruction to their students in PreK-12 grade schools (Cochran-Smith et al., 2016; Vanassche & Kelchtermans, 2014).

Although the content of higher education in universities has undergone major changes due to new research and theoretical developments in psychology (Balbay, 2019), Socratic method continues to be widely used in many disciplines (Dinkins & Cangelosi, 2019; Fullam, 2015). Socratic seminar, wherein students have to be active listeners of different perspectives on a topic, analytically think about critical questions, actively engage in discussion, and respectfully respond to thoughts of others, is one approach used by teacher educators to “broaden preservice teachers’ understanding of teachers’ work and professional role” (Balbay, 2019, p. 520). Teacher education programs therefore have reinforced Socratic approaches in teacher preparation by emphasizing processes such as critical awareness (Balbay, 2019), reflection (Van Seggelen–Damen et al., 2017), teacher-learner interaction (Knezic et al., 2010), and discussion (Walker, 2004).

This chapter describes case-based teacher preparation in an undergraduate educational psychology course. Socratic educational approaches including questioning, dialogue, and reflection, incorporated within case-based teaching for promoting teacher candidates’ critical thinking, have been emphasized in this chapter. Studies related to case-based learning in teacher preparation courses have been discussed as evidence-based findings to support Socratic case-based method for promoting teacher candidates’ critical thinking. Moreover, assessment of teacher candidates’ performance on case-based learning has been illustrated to highlight effectiveness of collaborative dialogue and critical thinking under two conditions: face-to-face case analysis (written cases) and computer-mediated case analysis (video cases). Recommendations for promoting teacher candidates’ critical thinking and reflective teaching, based on Socratic case-based method, are discussed. Implications of case-based learning as a constructivist approach, with Socratic dialogue and questioning as foundational strategies, have been discussed as future research directions for promoting teacher candidates’ critical thinking and reflective teaching.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Case-Based Learning: Method of teaching and learning with narratives of real-life situations.

Teacher Candidates: College students in education programs leading to PreK-12 grades teaching certification.

Student-centered Learning: Learning process involving active student participation, instructor guidance, and peer support.

Video-Case Learning: Instructional practice focused on facilitating student learning through review of audio-visual recording of real-life situations.

Teacher Educator: College professors who prepare graduate and undergraduate students to teach in PreK-12 grade schools.

Critical Thinking: Forming opinion based on examination of relevant content information.

Problem-Based Learning: Process of generating solutions for dilemmas through discussion.

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