The "theory-practice gap": Turning theory into practice in a pre-service teacher education program
thesisposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jeanne Allen
This thesis investigates the theory-practice gap using the exemplar of teacher education. The research is situated in a pre-service teacher education program that explicitly seeks to bridge the theory-practice gap so that it produces “learning managers” who can negotiate the contemporary knowledge society in ways different to those of their predecessors. The empirical work reported in this thesis describes and interprets the experiences of preservice and beginning teachers in turning theory into practice. In order to accomplish this outcome, the thesis draws on Mead’s theory of emergence and symbolic interactionism to provide a theoretical perspective for meaning-making in social situations. Data for the study were collected through interviews and focus groups involving a sample of first-year graduate teachers of an Australian pre-service teacher education program. The main finding of this thesis is that the theory-practice gap in pre-service teacher education under present institutional arrangements is an inevitable phenomenon arising as individuals undergo the process of emergence from pre-service to graduate and then beginning teachers. The study shows that despite the efforts of the program developers, environmental, social and cultural conditions in teacher education processes and structures and in schools inhibit the trainee and novitiate teacher from exercising agency to effect change in traditional classroom practices. Thus, the gap between theory and practice is co-produced and sustained in the model that characterises contemporary preservice teacher education in the perspectives of lecturers, teachers and administrators -- Abstract.