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Exploring Clinical Experiences as a Fulbright Scholar

As a member of AACTE’s Global Diversity Committee and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I was selected as a Fulbright Global Scholar for 2022-23. My Fulbright project focuses on three primary objectives: 1) to learn about the development and delivery of clinical experiences in international settings; 2) to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted practices associated with the delivery of clinical experiences and preparation of teacher candidates; and 3) to create an international collaborative for continued learning and development of knowledge associated with clinical experiences.

My experience began in September when I spent six weeks at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). This spring, I will also travel to the Ludwigsburg University of Education (Germany) and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). The three countries were deliberately selected given specific characteristics associated with the delivery of their clinical experiences. Finland, for example, offers an opportunity to examine field experiences within a structure that maximizes coherence between the university and context for practice, i.e., teacher training schools. Field experiences in Ludwigsburg are unique in that candidates receive feedback from four individuals, maximizing support. Finally, the inclusion of a university in South Africa enables the examination of field experiences across a highly complex educational system that includes schools and learners within historically marginalized communities.

Acknowledging “it will be years before we know precisely what impacts COVID-19 has had on the … development of the current generation of aspiring teachers” (Choate et al., 2021, p. 52), by visiting sites and interviewing multiple stakeholders, including faculty, school and university administrators, teachers, and teacher candidates, I see the potential to contribute new knowledge regarding how universities in several countries adapted practices associated with field experiences during the pandemic and created viable experiences during times when schools were inaccessible. My work will also enable colleges and universities to recognize how the delivery of field experiences has evolved, and to understand the processes for discovering and delivering alternative options for field experiences to support teacher candidates’ development.

Upon completion of my travels, I plan to take time to synthesize the information from the various contexts before embarking on the publication of a co-edited book that will describe the experiences and innovations that arose from the pandemic. While seeking international contributors for this publication, I also hope there will be a high level of interest from AACTE-affiliated institutions. For questions or additional details, I can be reached at michael.putman@uncc.edu.

Choate, K., Goldhaber, D., & Theobald, R. (2021). The effects of COVID-19 on teacher preparation. The Kappan, 102(7), 52-57. https://doi.org/10.1177/00317217211007340

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