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Teacher Choices in Action (TCiA)

The project arose from the need to provide quality teaching practice experiences for students in initial teacher education during the national lockdown. The online modality allows students from all universities to participate, and thus also creates opportunities for research to be undertaken to strengthen students’ understanding of their pedagogical choices in practice.

The TCiA Project was conceptualised as a mechanism for preparing students for work-based learning in innovative and theoretically informed ways, for developing high quality research and for building research capacity in the teacher education sector. A key part of the strategy was to provide opportunities for postgraduate students to undertake studies in teacher education and work under the supervision of experienced researchers.

The TCiA Module prepares student teachers to make the most of their time in work-based learning. It guides students through recognising and understanding sets of choices that teachers need to make in every lesson they design and teach. Students see how teachers take cognisance of subject knowledge, insights from learning theories, priorities from inclusive education and work within resourcing possibilities. The module empowers students to bring different parts of their teacher education curriculum together, thereby reducing a so-called ‘theory practice gap’. The empirical research shows that after completing this module, students are better able to notice and understand the choices teachers made and they are better positioned to make these choices intentionally in their own planning. Initial findings show a five-fold increase in the capacity of students to explain and account for the pedagogic decisions teachers make.

The TCiA project enables systematic, cross-sectional research that investigates how preservice teachers notice and interpret teachers’ practices during their professional preparation programmes. The findings reveal what students perceive as relevant for learning, what aspects of teachers’ work they focus on and what they regard as exemplary teaching practices.

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