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Marianne Woods, Grace Goc Karp and Elizabeth Escamilla

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.

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Grace Goc Karp and Marianne L. Woods

Examining how preservice teachers (PTs) perceive and implement assessment may provide clues as to how we can refocus the way future teachers use assessment. A conceptual framework addressing PT beliefs and how they change was applied in this study to examine PTs’ (N = 17) beliefs and understanding of the role of assessment and evaluation on student learning and instruction while implementing a high school physical education program. PTs experienced and discussed the role of needs assessment, assessment-focused instruction, and authentic and alternative assessments in relation to student learning and instruction using a teaching for understanding framework (Wiggins, 1998). Data gathered included surveys and interviews documenting PTs’ previously held beliefs and conceptions; current perceptions of the assessment concepts used during the course and in their units; analysis of assessments used in unit plans; and PTs’ perceptions of assessment and student learning during and after the unit taught. PTs planned and implemented alternative/authentic as well as traditional assessments in three out of four units. PTs’ beliefs about student learning and assessment were varied. Despite ultimate lack of teacher authority, PTs felt that doing these assessments affected their beliefs about assessment. Some PTs accommodated new information about authentic assessment and expanded their understanding, whereas other PTs either resisted or assimilated this new knowledge into existing belief structures. The results indicate that shaping critical and authentic assessment experiences in teacher preparation deserves increased attention and deliberate planning throughout PETE programs if shifts in beliefs are to be made.

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Marianne Woods, Grace Goc Karp and Michael R. Judd

Given recent evidence that a shortage of qualified candidates for PETE positions exists (Boyce & Rikard, 2008; Woods, Goc Karp, & Feltz, 2003), this dual purposed study was designed to examine the nature of and possible factors that may contribute to that shortage. The first purpose was to examine the results of searches from the perspectives of search chairs for PETE positions posted during the 2007–08 academic year. The second purpose was to determine K-12 teachers’ perceptions about pursuing advanced degrees and careers in PETE. Search chairs highlighted low numbers of qualified applicants and the need for strategies that improve the recruitment of individuals to choose PETE doctoral studies. The majority of teachers (52%) reported aspirations to continue their careers teaching at the K-12 level instead of pursuing teaching in higher education. Suggestions for policy reexamination in PETE doctoral programs related to hiring and recruitment are provided.

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Phillip Ward, Sue Sutherland, Marianne L. Woods, B. Ann Boyce, Grace Goc Karp, Michael Judd, Melissa Parker, G. Linda Rikard and Christina Sinclair

In this paper, we situate the findings from the studies in this thematic issue within the current policy environment that influences the status, rankings, and funding contexts for doctoral programs in Physical Education Teacher Education within and across institutions. We identify common challenges that these doctoral programs are confronted with including the recruitment of doctoral students, the lack of diversity of faculty and students, the purpose of the doctoral degree, and core content knowledge for the degree. Throughout the discussion we provide questions and recommendations for the field to consider.