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ACM Ref: ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION
This qualitative research is an exploration of the experiences of student teachers during teaching practice as a component of initial teacher education in Malawi. The research was necessitated by a general lack of knowledge about secondary school teacher education in Malawi and the view that teaching practice is one of the major components of concern for professional learning among student teachers. An activity theory perspective provided a theoretical and conceptual lens of understanding teaching practice. The elements within activity theory which were of particular significance related to tools/artefacts, subjects, objects and outcomes in teaching practice; rules/norms within an activity system of teaching practice; perceptions of individuals about teacher education and a teaching activity; pedagogical actions and understanding during teaching practice; the community relationships in school systems where student teachers carried out teaching practice; division of tasks; activity settings; tensions/contradictions, as well as innovations within the activity of teaching practice (Engestrom, 1999). The participants in the study were drawn mainly from student teachers on a three-year teacher education programme at one of the teacher education institutions in Malawi. The results from the study showed that the student teachers had different perceptions for teaching as well as differing goals for joining a secondary school teacher education programme; that student teachers had varied experiences during teaching practice and the varied experiences influenced learning to teach in various ways. The shortage of material resources impeded some activities that student teachers could carry out. The findings showed that some pedagogical tools that student teachers had learned in college were not always easily used in the schools. The community relationships between student teachers and teachers in the schools affected professional development in some way. The supervision component of teaching practice also generated mixed experiences from student teachers. The study participants proposed innovations aimed at resolving some of the tensions and contradictions faced during teaching practice. The innovations related to facilitative supervision, holistic assessment, changing the time and duration of teaching practice as well as student teachers' placements. The enriched understanding of the experiences of the student teachers makes significant contribution to knowledge within teacher education in Malawi.
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