SITUATED MENTORING: A MULTIPLE DESCRIPTIVE CASE STUDY OF MENTOR TEACHERS AND THEIR TEACHER CANDIDATES
ABSTRACT SITUATED MENTORING: A MULTIPLE DESCRIPTIVE CASE STUDY OF MENTOR TEACHERS AND THEIR TEACHER CANDIDATES Under the direction of SHARON MURPHY AUGUSTINE, Ph.D. A shortage of teachers is a serious threat to today’s schools as between 30% and 50% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. A need exists to develop teacher induction programs that begin with learning to teach through situated engagement, rather than mere knowledge acquisition, so that novices stay in the profession. Due to the social nature of this study, and the reliance on participants’ perceptions, social constructionism was selected as the epistemology with situated learning and legitimate peripheral participation as the theoretical perspectives to conduct a multiple descriptive case study methodology that involved document analysis and interview research to explore the efforts of one private, faith-based university in the Eastern United States to prepare high school math and science teachers to fill the current teacher shortage. The over-arching finding was the notion that the Fellows learned through every day formal and informal interactions with their Mentor Teachers during their shared practices. Significant learning occurred through increasing social practices, which were part of a community of practice. The situated engagement allowed the Fellows to develop an identity within the community, undergo a process of change, and become a full member by acquiring the language and knowledge of the group. Preparation programs that provide strong mentoring and induction may experience lower rates of turnover among graduates. The impact of the intense and lengthy mentoring that candidates receive is highly dependent upon appropriate personality matches between mentors and mentees, the time devoted by all parties involved, and the chance to have an extended experience that allows for a true understanding of what the teaching profession entails. Future research should include investigations of other teacher preparation programs, longitudinal studies that follow novice teachers during the induction phase of their career, and studies that look more closely at the effect that these novices have on student learning.
Milner, Dawn Marie