Clinical Teaching in Education

Assoc Prof Larissa McLean Davies, Dr Nicky Dulfer, Dr Jeana Kriewaldt , Assoc Prof Suzanne Rice, Dr Daniela Acquaro, Dr Christine Redman, Ms Catherine Reid, and Dr Teresa Angelico | View as single page |Feedback/Impact

Integration of theory and practice through university-school partnership

In the past, teacher education programs have typically involved the university providing theoretical perspectives of curriculum and pedagogy, and schools providing contexts for professional practice placements; the lack of integration between these two components has often resulted in decontextualized learning (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005). In order to prepare teachers who are clinical practitioners, strong partnerships between the university and schools is crucial. A number of factors contribute to effective university-school partnerships, including: understanding and use of a shared language about teaching and learning; course design that facilitates meaningful links between academic studies and professional practice; the development of coursework tasks framed around the collection and analysis of authentic classroom data; and close collaborations and exchanges between university- and school-based staff.

A key feature of effective university-school partnerships is shared language in relation to concepts such as ‘clinical teaching’, ‘interventionist practice’ and ‘data’, and the genuine integration of this language across both university and school contexts.  Central to this integration are the collaborations between university- and school-based staff, course design and program scheduling.  To enable pre-service teachers to constantly enact and reflect on the links between theory and practice, requires  extended and sustained periods in schools that are ‘interlaced with coursework’ (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005, p. 411).   This ‘interlacing’ of coursework and practice enables coursework tasks to be authentically situated in practice and based on the collection and analysis of school data, rather than decontexualised, remote and contrived.

In order for the links between the university and schools and coursework and practice to be integrated, strong collaboration and dedicated roles for both university and school-based staff are crucial (Burn & Mutton, 2013).  Ideally, these roles involve exchanges whereby school-based staff have opportunities to teach and assess within the university coursework program, and university staff are involved in professional development and research in schools. Central to this collaborations is the mentoring of pre-service teachers in school placements, during which the contextual knowledge and expertise of the school-based staff is integrated with the theoretical perspectives brought by university staff (McLean Davies et al 2013).


Evidence base and references

Burn, K., & Mutton, T. (2013). Review of Research Informed Clinical Practice in Initial Teacher Education. British Education Research Association (BERA).

Darling­Hammond, L. & Bransford, J (Eds.) (2005). Preparing Teachers for a changing world: what teachers should learn and be able to do, San Francisco: Jossey Bass

McLean Davies, L., Anderson, M., Deans, J., Dinham, S., Griffin, P. , Kameniar, B. , Page, J.,  Reid,  C., Rickards, F., Tayler, C., & Tyler, D.  2013. “Masterly preparation: Embedding clinical practice in a graduate pre-service teacher education programme.” Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy 39 (1): 93-106. DOI:10.1080/02607476.2012.733193