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

Collaborative approaches to teacher education

Collaboration is central to the work of a teacher; however, in traditional teacher education programs, there has been a tendency, particularly in the subject disciplines, for each academic to view their area as discrete from other course components. In order for pre-service teachers to see the value of collaboration, not only within but across disciplines, collaborative approaches should be modelled in teacher education programs. Examples of collaborations include the integration of literacy across coursework subjects, interdisciplinary workshops and combined assessment tasks.

The inclusion of specific literacy intervention across the disciplines has been mandated in some jurisdictions; this aims to assist students to develop awareness that language and discourse differ across the curriculum and that there is a need to learn literacies involved in each subject they undertake The capacity of teachers to support their students to address the language and literacy demands of specific disciplines is crucial to the clinical model. Key questions that guide literacy inclusion are:

  • What are the student’s existing skills in relation to listening, speaking, reading, viewing, writing and creating?
  • What evidence supports this?
  • What are the language and literacy demands of this task/topic/discipline?
  • What does the student need to know/do to address these demands?
  • How will the teacher support the student to develop the required skills and knowledge?
  • What theoretical and pedagogical approaches support this approach?
  • How will the student’s discipline- specific language and literacy development be measured?

Collaboration between literacy specialists and discipline-based academics facilitates all pre-service teachers to identify and understand discourse-specific literacies and genres, and to develop strategies to integrate explicit teaching of these into discipline content (Billman & Pearson 2013). One such interdisciplinary collaboration involves pre-service teachers of Physical Education undertaking literacy-based workshops utilising artworks. These workshops are collaborations between the Physical Education lecturer and literacy and art specialists. In these workshops, the pre-service teachers are asked to respond to artworks and associate their responses to their own professional and personal identities. The key outcomes of these workshops were the deepening of the pre-service teachers’ own visual, oral and written literacy skills, and the development of their own interdisciplinary approaches to teaching (Nash et al., 2015).

The collaboration of staff across core subject and discipline-based subjects can result in ‘combined’ assessment tasks that show the integration of subject content, pedagogy, literacy and considerations of contextual factors. In one such example at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the Clinical Praxis Exam (CPE) requires all pre-service teachers completing the Master of Teaching to report on their teaching in a particular subject area, and to discuss their pedagogical approaches given the students’ existing skills, the language and literacy demands of the specific task, the contextual factors impacting on the student, and relevant theory and research. This task requires teaching staff from across the program to become familiar with subjects outside their own specialised fields, and to be involved in assessment panels comprising a range of staff from both the university and partnerships schools (McLean Davies et al, 2013).

Collaborations such as those outlined model good practice for pre-service teachers, and also provide academic staff with holistic learning experiences leading to understandings that enable them to approach their work as clinical educators.

Evidence base and references

Billman, A. and Pearson, P.D (2013). Literacy in the disciplines. In Literacy Learning: the Middle Years, 21(1).

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

Nash. M., Kent, H. and Reid, C. (In press – accepted March 2015). Learning across figured worlds. In The Arts Collection.