A self-study of outdoor education in secondary teacher education
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
As a teacher educator, I was concerned at the passive roles that pre-service teachers (PSTs) seemed to take in my outdoor education (OE) courses and I believed that more authentic (teacher-like) experiences would assist PSTs to take more active roles. Early in this research I developed a metaphor of PSTs as passengers on the long distance flight (their degree) to the destination (of teaching) to explain some of this passivity. Using a self-study methodology, I examined a variety of ‘authentic’ learning experiences during a semester-long course. Guided by Schwab’s commonplaces, I accessed perspectives of learners, milieu, teacher educator and discipline to provide me with some certainty about the effects of my teaching. The authentic learning experiences included my use of transparent teaching (open journaling and thinking aloud), modelling of proposed graduating teacher standards, fatality case studies and handing over control on an OE camp. As the research progressed, it became apparent that my initial framing of the problem of PST passivity was flawed. In particular, the most authentic experiences of teaching on the OE camp did not necessarily result in the active learning I had anticipated. Through the self-study methodology, I came to realise that authenticity was impeding the learning of some students. I reframed my approach to teacher education and used Schwab’s eclecticism to also acknowledge the equal importance of passive learning, inauthenticity and teacher uncertainty. I argue that this eclectic approach provides a more nuanced and fuller understanding of teaching and learning in the OE course. Finally, I discuss the criteria within self-study for demonstrating improvement and representation of results.