ERIC Identifier: ED344873 Publication Date: 1992-05-00
Author: Kauffman, Dagmar Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Teacher Education Washington DC.
Supervision of Student Teachers. ERIC Digest.
The student teaching field experience is an essential component of learning
to teach and supervision plays an important role (Zahorik, 1988). During this
time, the student teacher is assigned to a school-based cooperating teacher and
a university supervisor, all of whom form a supervisory triad. Educators
consider student teaching to be an important, highly valued experience. It is
"critical to the development of preservice teachers' pedagogical skills"
(Richardson-Koehler, 1988, p. 22). Seventy-seven percent of the university
supervisors and 70% of the cooperating teachers support the notion that student
teaching prepares students more than adequately for their first full-time
teaching job (AACTE, 1991).
While university supervisors and cooperating teachers share the goal of
preparing students to be effective teachers, they differ in their perspectives
on the learning processes that take place. Emphasizing seminar work, 69% of
university supervisors feel that students are adequately prepared for student
teaching, compared to only 49% of cooperating teachers, who stress practical
experience as an important factor in a student teacher's preparedness (AACTE,
The discrepancy between university supervisors' and teachers' perspectives,
between theory and practice, has led some critics to doubt that the current
practice of student teaching is effective (Evertson, Howley, & Zlotnik,
1984). They are concerned that student teachers simply model the behavior of
their cooperating teachers and may not learn as much of the theoretical and
general principles that would allow them to teach in a variety of classroom
situations (Richardson-Koehler, 1988). Dewey (1904 in Zahorik, 1988) already
cautioned that student teachers' close contact with the cooperating teacher may
prevent them from developing reflective inquiry skills. While student teachers
need exemplary models, they must also learn to become independent thinkers,
grasping principles and developing new techniques.
Cleary (1988) suggests that this could be resolved by providing better
supervision of student teachers; however, it is a complex process. This ERIC
Digest considers the barriers to improved student teacher supervision,
identifies approaches to overcoming such barriers, and describes collaborative
efforts in which public school and university personnel are equal partners.
BARRIERS TO EFFECTIVE SUPERVISION
The concept of effective
supervision is much debated and difficult to define (Boydell, 1986). Incongruent
role expectations by cooperating teachers and university supervisors (Applegate & Lasley, 1986), lack of substantive communication, and lack of
collaboration appear to be the main factors hampering the process (Bhagat,
Clark, & Combs, 1989; Hoover, O'Shea, & Carroll, 1988).
The roles of cooperating teachers and university
supervisors are ambiguous and not always clearly defined (Richardson-Koehler,
1988; Grimmett & Ratzlaff, 1986). Although the research literature (Zahorik,
1988) identifies different roles that supervisors assume, supervisors do not
necessarily reflect on or communicate them. This likely leads to
misunderstanding in interactions with their counterparts, particularly, if the
university supervisor and the cooperating teacher assume different roles (Wood,
1989). Zahorik (1988) identifies three supervisory roles:
* behavior prescriptor--emphasizes students' acquisition of basic
instructional skills and classroom management techniques;
* idea interpreter--presents beliefs about what classrooms and schools ought
to be like and suggests ways to bring about change; and
* person supporter--promotes students' own decision-making and encourages
them to think for themselves.
Despite these apparently well-defined roles, the cooperating teacher seems to
be most influential because of his/her close interaction with the student
(Richardson-Koehler, 1986; American Association, 1991). Some have suggested
eliminating the role of the university supervisor, who exerts less immediate
influence on the student teacher (Bowman, 1979 cited in Wood, 1989; Zahorik,
1988). Marrou (1989) and Wood (1989), however, stress the significance of the
university supervisor's role as critical, but not as one that duplicates the
observing and evaluating role of the cooperating teacher. Scholars have
suggested the university supervisor's role as someone who acts as personal
confident to the cooperating teacher and student teacher (Zimpher, deVoss, &
Nott, 1980) or who manages the administrative, managerial, and technical aspects
of supervision rather than the instructional or personal (Wood, 1989).
OF COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION
Lack of substantive communication and
collaboration (Bhagat et al., 1989) complicates the supervisory process. Limited
in their interactions by time constraints because of teaching and research
responsibilities (AACTE, 1991; Hoover et al., 1988), university supervisors and
cooperating teachers do not effectively communicate about their respective
expectations of the goals of student teaching; the instructional approaches with
which student teachers should experiment (Bhagat et al., 1989;
Richardson-Koehler, 1988; Zahorik, 1988); or the purpose, policies, and
practices that guide student teaching (Hoover et al., 1988). As a result,
cooperating teachers and university supervisors often misunderstand each other,
lack unity in front of the student teacher, and continue to teach and supervise
the way they always have instead of working as a supervisory team (Moon,
Niemeyer, & Simmons, 1988).
OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS
Depending on the perceived cause
for the unsuccessful supervision of student teachers, efforts designed to
overcome these barriers have included:
* training for university supervisors to reconceptualize their roles
* training for cooperating teachers to analyze their own teaching and
supervisory techniques (Richardson-Koehler, 1988); and
* selecting and matching the triad members in a systematic way (Wood, 1989).
A prominent part of the recent reform
agenda calls for cooperating teachers and university supervisors to work as
equal partners and in projects that link universities and school districts
(Kirchhoff, 1989). At the University of New Hampshire, cooperating teachers,
building principals, and university supervisors work together. Cooperating
teachers learn more about the theoretical side of teacher education and are
better able to match supervisory styles to the developmental stages of the
preservice teachers. Principals incorporate newly acquired knowledge into their
role as instructional leaders. University supervisors use their new insights to
work more collaboratively with the cooperating teachers as they share
supervision responsibility (see Oja, 1988).
In 1989 Ohio State University, the local public schools, and the state
education association initiated a program where fully released public school
teachers share the supervision of student teachers with university supervisors.
The university supervisor and teacher meet weekly to discuss student teachers'
progress, communicating on a continuous basis and working as a team, linking
theory and practice for the preservice teachers (see Zimpher, 1988; Kirchhoff,
The benefits of collaborative efforts are
manifold and enrich each triad member. Student teachers have the opportunity to
incorporate fully both the theoretical and the practical into their teaching.
Additionally, the cooperating teacher and the university supervisor create a
working relationship based on mutual respect and understanding for each others'
expertise, perspectives, and roles.
References identified with an EJ or ED number
have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should
be available at most research libraries; documents (ED) are available in ERIC
microfiche collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered
through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-ERIC. For more
information contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education, One Dupont
Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036-1186; (202) 293-2450 or (800)
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). (1991). RATE
IV: Teaching teachers: Facts & figures. Washington, DC: Author.
Applegate, J. H., & Lasley, T. J. (1986). Early field experience: A
synthesis of role-perspective studies. Washington, DC: ERIC Document
Reproduction Service. ED 310 065
Bhagat, D., Clark, C., & Coombs, G. (1989, March). A study of shared
self-interests in a university-school partnership. Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco. ED 307
Boydell, D. (1986). Issues in teaching practice supervision research: A
review of the literature. Teaching and Teacher Education, 2(2), 115-25. EJ 344
Cleary, M. J. (1988). Thinking styles of supervisors and implications for
student teaching. Teacher Educator, 24(1), 16-23. EJ 387 998
Evertson, C., Hawley, W., & Zlotnik, M. (1984). The characteristics of
effective teacher education preparation programs: A review of the research.
Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Peabody College. See ED 250 314
Grimmett, P. P., & Ratzlaff, H. C. (1986). Expectations for the
cooperating teacher role. Journal of Teacher Education, 37(6), 41-50. EJ 350 075
Hoover, N. L., O'Shea, L. J., & Carroll, R. G. (1988). The
supervisor-intern relationship and effective communication skills. Journal of
Teacher Education, 39(2), 22-27. EJ 376 997
Kirchhoff, S. (1989, November). Collaborative university/school district
approaches for student teaching supervision. Paper presented at the annual
conference of the National Council of States on Inservice Education, San
Antonio, TX. ED 314 389
Marrou, J. R. (1989). The university supervisor: A new role in a changing
workplace. Teacher Educator, 24(3), 13-19. EJ 391 471
Moon, R. A., Niemeyer, R. C., & Simmons, J. M. (1988, April). Three
perspectives on the language of supervision: How well do the university
supervisor, cooperating teacher, and student teacher understand each other?
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research
Association, New Orleans, LA. ED 293 806
Oja, S. N. (1988). Some promising endeavors in school-university
collaboration: Collaborative research and collaborative supervision in the
University of New Hampshire five-year program. Paper presented at the Holmes
Group Second Annual Conference, Washington, DC. ED 294 835
Richardson-Koehler, V. (1988). Barriers to the effective supervision of
student teaching: A field study. Journal of Teacher Education, 39(2), 28-34. EJ
Wood, L. H. (1989, August). Maximizing the development of student teachers
during student teaching. Paper presented at the summer workshop of the
Association of Teacher Educators, Tacoma, WA. ED 312 237
Zahorik, J. A. (1988). The observing-conferencing role of university
supervisors. Journal of Teacher Education, 39(2), 9-16. EJ 376 995
Zimpher, N. L. (1988). A design for the professional development of teacher
leaders. Journal of Teacher Education, 39(1), 53-60. EJ 374 367
Zimpher, N. L., deVoss, G., & Nott, D. (1980). A closer look at
university student teacher supervision. Journal of Teacher Education, 31(4),
11-15. EJ 235 491
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