Nguyen What knowledge, practices, and relationships typify empowering teaching and learning experiences

Nguyen, H. T. (2009). An inquiry-based practicum model: What knowledge, practices, and relationships typify empowering teaching and learning experienes for student teachres, cooperating teachers, and college supervisors? Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 655-662.


Summary: This qualitative study examined the experiences of four Vietnamese student teachers teaching in American schools by understanding different factors of the triad that contributed to their success. They found that communication, mutual respect, teacher-learner reciprocity, flexibility, dedication, and teamwork were important factors for successful relationships.


Research Questions: What can cooperative teachers and college supervisors do to ensure success for their student teachers? Do the cooperating teachers, student teachers, and college supervisor perceive a change in their experience with using an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning?


Data Sources: classroom observations, prompt-based journal entries, schematics of the student teachers’ lives segmented into significant periods, interviews, mixed-group seminars, surveys, Vietnamese Teachers Support Group meetings, student teachers’ presentation of thematic lesson units, and additional documents and artifacts.



Communication was an important factor for successful relationships. “Another way for the cooperating teachers (CT) and the college supervisor (CS) to establish and maintain a supportive environment was to communicate to the student teachers (STs) their areas of strengths and improvement in a timely manner. Both CTs and CS should give concrete examples/anecdotes, provide demonstrations (if needed), and offer specific suggestions” (p. 659).


Another important factor to a successful relationship was having the CT and CS on the same page.


“The team believed that the steps they had each taken in fulfilling their role and responsibilities resulted in empowering relationships among themselves because they aimed for successive approximations, not perfection” (pp. 659-660).


Other factors included keeping lines of communication open and having the CT embrace teacher-learner reciprocity, in essence permitting the ST to develop into her own teacher even if that was different from the CT.


“The CTs, along with the STs and CS, were in agreement that teamwork, flexibility, dedication, and mutual respect were essential to the team’s success. By being ‘willing to respect each other’s ideas and suggestions and ready to give up fixed notions in order for the relationship to grow,’ Rosie asserted that such practice benefited both mentors and mentees” (p. 661).


Role of university supervisor in collaboratively supporting the following: establishing and maintaining a supportive PST learning environment, reflective mentoring process and inquiry-based discourse, and creating peer group support opportunities for student teachers' growth.