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DEVELOPING REFLECTIVE PRACTITIONERS IN ZIMBABWE TEACHERS’ COLLEGES

John Mpofu
Senior lecturer, Zimbabwe Open University Zimbabwe

 

ABSTRACT

Scholars have advocated the importance of developing reflective teaching skills in teachers so as to produce critical thinking pupils from our schools. This study examined how pre-service teachers and the course instructor perceived reflective thinking at the start of a required literacy course in a pre-service teacher education program. Teacher educators in Zimbabwe need to consider carefully the impact of the work they do in training and developing critical thinkers in the education of the country. The intention of teaching is to bring about learning. In what way does teaching lead to the concept of learning? How does a teacher trainer develop critical thinking skills in a student teacher so that he/she can in turn develop these skills in the pupils? This study examined how student teachers in pre-service Teachers’ colleges are taught, the structure of the course and the manner in which the practical teaching practice is organized. The study examined how the teacher educator contributed to the development of reflective thinking throughout the course and the study looked at how pre-service teachers applied ideas learned through reflection at school. Data collection included individual interviews, focus group discussions, observations of the visual data workshop with students, and analysis of written assignments. Visits to the schools where student teachers practiced were also done. The data was collected over the period of two semesters using a purposeful sample of 60 students and 10 teacher educators. The findings included the following (a) the mentors who are experienced teachers provide technical assistance to the student teachers. (b) The mentor can also provide personal support for the student teacher. (c) The mentor can also provide support for curriculum development. (d) Written assignments and dialogue taken from the visual data analysis workshop indicated pre- service teacher characteristics that are consistent with characteristics of reflective thinkers. This study may have implications for curricular design and implementation in future pre-service education courses. The visual data project provided a context within which the participants acted, allowing the researcher to understand what assignments, activities, and experiences demonstrated characteristics consistent with those of reflective thinkers. 


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