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Perceptions of Learning to Teach in a Constructivist Environment

Misti Neutzling, Erica Pratt, Melissa Parker


A constructivist approach to learning in teacher education has been widely accepted. Yet little is known about constructivist environments within physical education teacher education (PETE). The purpose of this study was to examine the perspectives of PETE preservice teachers with respect to instructional strategies designed to reflect constructivist learning. Specifically, students’ views of the pedagogical aspects employed were explored. Data sources included focus group interviews with 13 members of a field-based PETE methods class grounded in constructivist principles and course artifacts. Responses to interview questions were analyzed via open, axial, and selective coding. Trustworthiness was established through a researcher journal, an audit journal, and triangulation. Data analysis revealed four pedagogical aspects that contributed to these students’ learning: relationships, feedback, time, and active learning. Relationships included meaningful connections with class members and instructors. Feedback was described as timely insight about their teaching and work with young people from both instructors and peers. The amount of time engaged in learning was acknowledged as being significant. Engagement with elementary school students provided active learning that allowed for the translation of theory into practice. These students’ positive views of creating knowledge by applying it with elementary children may suggest a constructivist approach as a viable and powerful means for framing effective PETE programs. Furthermore, there may be an increased potential for these students to utilize similar strategies when teaching, and the cultivation of relationships may counteract the occupational socialization of beginning teachers. 

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Constructivism; pre-service teacher; teacher education

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