JTE Author Interview: Rethinking Student Teacher Feedback
Read the latest JTE Insider blog interview by the Journal of Teacher Education (JTE) editorial team member Lauren Snead. This blog is available to the public, and AACTE members have free access to the articles in the JTE online archives—just log in with your AACTE profile.
This interview features insights from the article “Rethinking Student Teacher Feedback: Using a Self-Assessment Resource With Student Teachers” by Lauren Oropeza Snead and H. Jerome Freiberg. The article was published in the March/April 2019 issue of the JTE.
Q1. What motivated you to pursue this particular research topic?
As a doctoral student in Dr. Jerome Freiberg’s graduate class, I was challenged to self-assess my own teaching by using student feedback. This was an area of growth I had not previously explored and it completely changed the way I looked at my teaching. As I briefly discuss in the article, I had spent many years as a K-12 teacher, where I focused on what administrators thought of me. Up until this point, my teaching evaluations dictated how I taught my class. I based any areas of growth or changes on what the administrators said about my classroom. Now that I look back, I cannot believe how blind I was to all of the potential feedback perspectives in classrooms. Using Dr. Freiberg’s self-assessment resource, the Person-Centered Learning Assessment (PCLA), I realized for the first time that the power for change started with my students. Accessing student feedback gave me a fresh perspective into areas of growth. It was an empowering experience. That experience spurred on my curiosity to dive further into the PCLA.
Q2. Were there any specific external events (political, social, economic) that influenced your decision to engage in this research study?
Although a specific event did not influence my decision, there was an overall climate about education that played a role. Teacher education is a constant area of focus for political decision-makers. With the rise of alternative certification programs in the state in which this study took place and concerns over teacher attrition, teacher preparation programs are constantly viewed with a critical eye. We all want high quality teacher candidates that are classroom-ready upon graduation. The PCLA with student teachers was an attempt to explore the impact that self-assessment could have on student teachers. My hope was that the PCLA could serve as an additional resource to support pre-service teachers in an effort to give them the tools they need to be classroom ready on day one. The better we prepare teachers in teacher education programs, the stronger they’ll be, and hopefully, the longer they will stay in the profession.
Q3. What were some difficulties you encountered with the research?
This research required a lot of work from the participants. That is what made the findings so rich, but also what made it difficult to gather additional participants. Each participant committed to teaching lessons, self-assessing, writing reflections, and participating in two interviews. This contributed to a time-intensive commitment. With less participant requirements, it is likely that we would have received more participants. However, with less reflections, interviews, and lessons, the data would likely not have been as fruitful. I have reflected on this challenge and continue to think about ways to streamline the process for future participants, while still retaining rich data.
Q4. What current areas of research are you pursuing?
This research on the PCLA is just the beginning. I am still exploring the use of self-assessments with student teachers. Dr. Freiberg and I are currently exploring using an additional self-assessment resource with student teachers. Our hope to is to have a larger participant set in a mixed methods project. Our goal is to continue to find ways to support novice teachers. Specifically, we want to continue to find ways within the realm of self-assessment strategies, allowing teachers to lead their own learning and change.
Q5. What new challenges do you see for the field of teacher education?
In the state that this research took place in, there is a movement towards changing the evaluation process to EdTPA. Implementing a new system state-wide will take many hours of training, learning, and implementation processes. This will likely present new challenges for teachers. With teacher attrition already being an issue, it will be necessary to have systems in place to support novice teachers. Much like the PCLA, strategies to prepare teachers to self-reflect effectively can potentially better prepare them throughout their evaluation process.
Q6. What advice would you give to new scholars in teacher education?
It can be easy to fall into the trap of researching something because you feel like you “should.” My advice is to research something you truly care about. Building up research, carrying it out, writing it up, and presenting the findings take time and hard work. A research topic you start today could be your life’s work carried out over many years. Choose something you are passionate about. Choose something you feel is worthwhile to not only the field, but to you. Your excitement and enthusiasm about your topic will be infectious.