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Experiential Learning Within Teacher Education Programs: A Qualitative Approach to Evaluating Student Teachers’ Learning and Understanding Its Benefits

By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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This research stems from our work at the University of Hong Kong that explores new ways to develop high-quality teachers, arguably the most influential element in any education system. Set against a complex backdrop of globalization, high-stakes comparative studies of educational systems, and increased demands on teachers at primary and secondary levels, the study covers fieldwork in assisting teachers-in-training to enact social action through an innovative community-based field experience model that fosters teacher learning by building links between our faculty and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Southeast Asia. There is a broad literature on the provision of experiential learning (EL) projects in teacher education programs, but there is very little research on how to reliably understand the learning process or how to assess the process of change within individual student teachers who participate in EL. This case provides an account of how to elicit feedback from postgraduate student teachers undertaking local and international EL activities through focus-group discussion (FGDs) and ongoing reflections. The case throws light on some of the most crucial aspects when assessing EL and addressing key challenges such as learning what a substantive reflective process is and how students' learning experiences might be evaluated. The case also shares data from numerous individual and FGDs with students who have engaged in EL and concludes with recommendations on eliciting student feedback so as to enhance our understanding of how EL can promote personal and professional development in initial teacher education (ITE).

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Qualitative interviewing

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