Tang 2003 Challenge and Support: The Dynamics of Student Teachers' Professional Learning in the Field Experience

Tang, S. Y. F. (2003). Challenge and support: The dynamics of student teachers’ professional learning in the field experience. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 483-498.

Summary: The qualitative case study examined seven preservice teachers in Hong Kong to understand the challenge and support that promoted growth in the field experience. The author provides a four quadrant conceptual framework to understand how challenge and supports facilitates PST growth. The four categories are Stasis, Retreat, Confirmation, and Growth. Stasis is low challenge, low support. Retreat is high challenge, low support. Confirmation is high support, low challenge. Growth is high challenge, high support.

  • There are four kinds of socio-political contexts in the student teaching experience. They include detachment, affiliation, engagement, and isolation.

    • “In a detached socio-professional relationship, the school adopts a position of letting student teachers have ‘borrowed’ classrooms for practice rather than actively facilitating their learning or engaging them into the wider school life” (p. 489).
    • In an affiliated socio-political context, student teachers “have quite frequent contact with one or two groups of people in the school.” They get “…support from regular teachers and peers engender a psychologically safe and encouraging milieu for productive learning experiences to take place” (p. 489). Essentially, student teachers have some but limited participation in the school community.
    • In an engagement socio-political context, “the school provides challenge and support to student teachers by engaging them in the wider school life. Student teachers also take initiative to interact with various groups of people in the school” (p. 490). Essentially, student teachers become active members in the school culture.
    • In an isolated socio-political context, student teachers “develop a poor relationship with at least one group of people in the school” (p. 491) and the student teacher becomes isolated.  This is an unproductive learning environment.
  • “Too much challenge without adequate support generates unproductive learning experiences and threatens student teachers’ sense of self as a teacher” (p. 492).
  • “The conferencing approach of some supervisors disempowered her sense of self as a teacher and she lost much of her confidence in teaching” (p. 492).