This study engaged 26 preservice teachers (PTs) in research focused on students in a secondary methods course who had early field experience (EFE). The purposes of the study were (a) to determine what PTs learned about students in an early field experience (EFE) that engaged them in a structured teacher research project and (b) to examine how the teacher research process was used by PTs. Results indicated that questions about students became more refined and focused through the research process and that there were fluctuations between student-centered and teacher-centered questions during the EFE. The prevailing themes indicated that PTs came to know more about student motivation and interests, characteristics, and peer interactions. More importantly, much of their data challenged previous beliefs and assumptions about students, as PTs began making connections between their newfound knowledge of students and its implications for curriculum, instruction, and management decisions.
The authors are with the Division of HPERD at the University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-2401.