Practicum Experiences of Prospective Teachers: The Inevitable Adaptation to Teaching Online
AbstractProspective teachers (students) in the Bachelor of Education (BEd.) programme at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Year Three, would have been required to conduct ‘field’ practicum at various schools throughout the country, under normal circumstances. However, due to the pandemic and the closure of all schools, only online classes were conducted and adaptations had to be made to acclimatize to the situation. Prospective teachers were required to engage in teaching to their peers online, together with micro-teaching which complemented the process. Instructors as well as classmates and presenters engaged in critique, rigorous analysis, reflection and feedback. The sample included forty (40) full-time students, generally between the ages of 18 to 25, who had no previous classroom teaching experiences. A mixed-method approach was deemed as suitable to investigate how prospective teachers adapted to online teaching and learning to implement the content of the prescribed curriculum. Online questionnaires, focus group interviews, via Zoom and reflective writings were used to collect data. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were integrated for data analyses. The findings revealed that most prospective teachers were very proficient with the use of the Zoom platform and were very creative in their approaches for teaching using videos, online games, power point presentations and voice-overs. However, there were instances of major problems involving internet connectivity and instability, particularly for those who live in remote villages. In addition, some students preferred online-teaching, while others indicated a preference for a blended approach. The results have serious connotations for the health and well-being of students. Those who are constrained by a lack of internet feel disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalized.
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