Learning to teach : communication skills in teacher education

Ekron, Christelle (2015-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates the development of the classroom communication behaviours of Foundation Phase student teachers over the course of a B Ed degree programme at a South African university. It challenges the premise of conventional wisdom that classroom communication behaviours will develop through regular exposure to situated learning experiences. Whilst acknowledging that learning to teach is a long and challenging process of which the precise nature is seldom clear-cut and distinct, this study claims to make a humble contribution to teacher education curriculum development. Classroom communication from the perspective of this study involves communication at two levels: firstly, interpersonal communication behaviours, which are influenced by nonverbal immediacy, communication apprehension, willingness to communicate and self-perceived communication skills; and secondly, instructional communication behaviours, more specifically clarity and immediacy behaviours. There seems to be a general perception that effective classroom communication will develop naturally by exposure to situated learning experiences, such as teaching practice sessions. Although the relative importance of these specific classroom communication behaviours for quality teaching and learning is acknowledged, whether and how these develop is seldom explicitly monitored. This was the intention of this study. It utilised a longitudinal mixed methods approach to follow Foundation Phase students over the four years of the degree programme in order to answer the following research question: To what extent do perceptions related to the classroom communication behaviours of Foundation Phase student teachers change over the course of a B Ed degree programme? The quantitative phase collected data using various self-report surveys in order to investigate possible changes in the self-perceptions of Foundation Phase student teachers regarding their communication behaviours over the four-year period. The purpose of the qualitative phase was to investigate possible changes in the perceptions of external evaluators regarding the instructional communication behaviours of student teachers over the degree programme. The qualitative data was obtained from the evaluation reports written by external evaluators on various aspects of the observed lessons. Although some changes occurred during the course of the B Ed degree programme, they were not as substantial as anticipated. From an interpersonal communication perspective, there was one particularly noticeable change: the self-perceived communication competence of the Foundation Phase student teachers improved between the first and second years of the programme, however, thereafter no further changes occurred. From an instructional communication perspective, more noticeable changes occurred: Foundation Phase student teachers improved in some aspects related to clarity, however other aspects still remained challenging. However, there was positive development related to immediacy: the fourth year Foundation Phase student teachers displayed higher levels of immediacy behaviours at the end of the four-year degree programme. Bearing in mind that neither interpersonal nor instructional communication theory was explicitly included in this particular B Ed degree programme; these findings are particularly noteworthy. This study advances the argument that if teacher education intends to address the quality of the teacher graduates entering the profession, classroom communication needs to be included in teacher education curricula.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die ontwikkeling van die klaskamer-kommunikasiegedrag van studentonderwysers in die Grondslagfase aan 'n Suid-Afrikaanse universiteit oor die verloop van 'n B Ed-graadprogram. Dit daag die konvensionele opvatting uit dat klaskamer-kommunikasiegedrag sal ontwikkel met gereelde blootstelling aan leerervarings in die praktyk. Alhoewel aanvaar word dat om te leer om te onderrig 'n lang en uitdagende proses is waarvan die presiese aard selde duidelik en onderskeibaar is, word daar met hierdie studie gepoog om 'n beskeie bydrae te lewer tot die ontwikkeling van onderwysersopleidingskurrikulums. Klaskamerkommunikasie behels vanuit die perspektief van hierdie studie twee vlakke: eerstens, interpersoonlike kommunikasiegedrag, wat beïnvloed word deur nie-verbale onmiddellikheid, kommunikasie-angstigheid, gewilligheid om te kommunikeer en self-persepsie van kommunikasievaardighede; en tweedens, onderrigkommunikasie-gedrag, meer spesifiek duidelikheid en onmiddellikheid. Die algemene persepsie bestaan dat doeltreffende klaskamerkommunikasie spontaan sal ontwikkel deur blootstelling aan praktiese ervaring in die klaskamer. Alhoewel die relatiewe belangrikheid van hierdie spesifieke klaskamer-kommunikasiegedrag algemeen erken word, word die ontwikkeling hiervan selde eksplesiet gemoniteer. Juis dít was die doel van hierdie studie. Longitudinale gemengde-metode navorsingsmetodologie is gebruik om Grondslagfase studente se kommunikasie-ontwikkeling oor die verloop van hul graadprogram te volg, met die doel om die volgende navorsingsvraag te beantwoord: Tot watter mate verander persepsies oor die klaskamer-kommunikasiegedrag van studentonderwysers in die Grondslagfase oor die verloop van die B Ed-graadprogram? Tydens die kwantitatiewe fase van die studie is data ingesamel deur die gebruik van 'n aantal self-rapporterende opnames ten einde moontlike veranderinge in die Grondslagfase studentonderwysers se selfpersepsie van hulle kommunikasiegedrag oor die tydperk van vier jaar te ondersoek. Die doel van die kwalitatiewe fase was om ondersoek in te stel na moontlike veranderinge in die persepsies van eksterne evalueerders wat betref die onderrig-kommunikasiegedrag van die studetonderwysers oor die verloop van die vier jaar van die kursus. Die kwalitatiewe data is verkry uit evalueringsverslae wat geskryf is deur eksterne evalueerders oor verskillende aspekte van die lesse wat geëvalueer is. Alhoewel daar sommige veranderinge plaasgevind het oor die verloop van die vier jaar van die B Ed-kursus, was hierdie veranderinge nie so substansieel as wat verwag is nie. Vanuit die oogpunt van interpersoonlike kommunikasie was daar slegs een merkbare verandering: die Grondslagfase-studente se selfpersepsie van hulle kommunikasievaardigheid het van die eerste na die tweede jaar verbeter, maar daarna het geen verdere veranderinge plaasgevind nie. Vanuit die oogpunt van onderrigkommunikasie het meer merkbare veranderinge egter plaasgevind: die Grondslagfase-studentonderwysers het verbeter ten opsigte van sommige aspekte wat betref duidelikheid, maar ander aspekte het steeds 'n uitdaging gebly. Daar was egter positiewe ontwikkeling wat betref onmiddellikheid: die Grondslagfase- studentonderwysers het in hulle vierde jaar hoër vlakke van onmiddellikheid getoon as aan die begin van hulle studies. Hierdie veranderings is veral opmerklik as is ag geneem word dat nie interpersoonlike kommunikasie of onderrigkommunkasie eksplesiet onderrig is in die spesifieke kursus nie. Hierdie studie voer aan dat as onderwysersopleiding 'n verskil wil maak aan die kwaliteit van onderwysgraduandi wat die beroep betree, moet onderrigkommunkasie ingesluit word by onderwysersopleiding-kurrikulums.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96988
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