The development of student teachers' classroom management competencies at the workplace during the teacher education internship period

Tom Adams

It is widely known that beginning teachers experience problems with the gap between teacher education and everyday practice in the classroom, in particular with respect to classroom management (Houtveen, Versloot & Groenen, 2006; Onderwijsinspectie, 2011; Vonk, 1997; Créton & Wubbels, 1984; Veenman, 1982). Student teachers face various problems during and shortly after their teaching practice, (Meijer, 2014), many of which are related to classroom management and teacher - student relationships (Beijaard, Meijer & Verloop, 2004; Pillen, 2013; Veenman, 1982). Research has shown that teachers who manage their classroom effectively have a better teacher-student relationship and realise more effective education for their pupils (Hattie, 2009; Wubbels, Brekelmans, den Brok, & van Tartwijk, 2006). These teachers succeed in preventing order problems: they oversee their class and are able to divide their attention to multiple things at once (Kounin, 1970; Doyle, 1986).

Various scholars (van Tartwijk & Hammerness, 2011; Wubbels, 2011) have asked for more attention for classroom management in teacher education. Although research findings reinforce the role of classroom management in teacher education, it is often ignored in the programme or embedded in other courses (Hammerness, 2011), Moreover, a large part of most teacher education programs takes place at practice schools during an internship period, and many student teachers often indicate that this period is crucial for the development and mastering of classroom management competence (van Tartwijk & Hammerness, 2011). However, little is known about how classroom management is addressed during this internship period, how practice schools differ in this respect and what effect this has on the classroom management competence development of student teachers.

While there is not one broadly accepted definition of classroom management (Hammerness, 2011), in this study classroom management is described as all provisions, actions and procedures taken by teachers to establish and maintain a learning environment (e.g. arranging the physical environment of the classroom, relation between teacher and pupils, establishing rules, procedures, effective use of time and order, maintaining attention to lessons and engagement in academic activities) in which instruction and learning can take place (Brophy, 1999; Doyle, 1986; Duke, 1979; Wubbels, in Van Tartwijk & Hammerness, 2011). In order to attain high quality of classroom management, Evertson and Weinstein (2006) argue that teachers must (1) develop a caring and supportive relationship with and among pupils, (2) organize and implement instruction in ways that optimizes pupils' access to learning, (3) encourage pupils' engagement in academic tasks, (4) promote the development of pupils' social skills and self-regulation and (5) use appropriate interventions to assist pupils with behaviour problems. We regard these specific goals as the core of classroom management competence and they form the basis of our analytical framework in this study.

There are different models used to capture how people learn at the workplace (e.g. Eraut, 2004), or more specifically teachers' professional development (e.g. Clarke & Hollingsworth, 2002). Tynjälä (2008) summarised, based on her own and others research, how people learn at work: (1) by doing the job itself, (2) through cooperating and interacting with colleagues, (3) through working with clients (in the present study: pupils), (4) by tackling challenging and new tasks, (5) by reflecting on and evaluating one's work experiences, (6) through formal education and (7) through extra-work contexts. This distinction is also relevant for the present study.

The purpose of the present research is finding how and to what extent classroom management is established in the teacher education curriculum, more in particular the internship or practice school based part, and how this relates to the development of the classroom management competence of student teachers. When conceiving the teacher education curriculum, following Thijs and Van den Akker (2009) we distinguish between an ideal or formal/written curriculum (the intended curriculum), the curriculum as it is perceived by students or operationally visible (the implemented curriculum) and the learning results achieved by the curriculum or the experienced curriculum (the attained curriculum).

The above described research problem leads to the following main research question: How does the school-based part of the teacher education curriculum contribute to the development of the classroom management competence of student teachers?

The following, more specific sub-questions will be investigated:

1. What does the intended school-based part of the curriculum concerning classroom management look like?

2. How is the school-based part of the curriculum concerning classroom management implemented?

3. What is the attained school-based part of the curriculum concerning classroom management?

4. What is the effect of improving the school-based teacher education curriculum (based on findings of questions 1, 2 and 3) on the development of classroom management competence of student teachers?