D. Cañabate, J. Colomer, T. Serra

University of Girona (SPAIN)
This study focuses on developing primary school preservice teachers’ collaborative learning. The study includes qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis to determine both the professional development through reflection and the interrelations between the dimensions of need-supportive teaching, i.e, autonomy support, structure and involvement.

The study comprised two sets of students. The higher education university (University of Girona) participants were 36 fourth-year primary school preservice teachers in the bachelor of Primary School Education, in the specific program of physical education. The second set of students belonged to three primary schools, comprising a total of 288 third and fourth grade students which were grouped in groups of four primary school students. Each preservice school teacher was assigned randomly to two primary school students groups. Seminars on collaborative and reflective learning addressed to the preservice students set the scenario for establishing the basis of the collaborative teaching.
Preservice school teachers were grouped in three groups (12 students in each) in order to design two new collaborative challenges to be carried out by primary school students. In addition, they chose 6 more challenges already available among a group of 24 challenges that were created by them. Each preservice school teacher developed in practice a total of 8 collaborative challenges (CA1 to CA8). Each preservice teacher directed the same activity at the same time with a duration of 10-15 minutes. CA1 to CA4 had a defined structure (fixed materials and roles). CA5 and CA6 had a semi-defined structure (fixed materials but no roles). Finally, challenges CA7 and CA8 had no structure (no materials and no roles defined).
Each preservice teacher student did three reflective narratives along the study. The content of the 108 narratives was assessed by means of the NARRA rubric. In addition, preservice school teachers’ perceptions on need-supportive teaching were investigated with a questionnaire scaled for autonomy support, structure and involvement. Finally, a set of seven preservice school teachers were chosen randomly to participate in a focus group that was video-recorded. A script was prepared considering the educational experience each preservice school teacher had participated in, or the role of using collaborative and reflective methods in improving their level of self-awareness as both individuals and future professionals.

Results and discussion:
This study highlights the potential of collaborative learning as well as the potential to use reflective narratives to explore prior conceptions and beliefs on professional development. The use of mixing qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis identified the positive interdependences that trigger responsibility in primary school students. Positive interdependence binds group members together by both completing one’s share of the activity and helping the work of other group members. On the other hand, the design of the level of structure in the designed challenges by the preservice s teachers determined perceived scales of autonomy support, structure and involvement. It was proved that need-supportive teaching is a powerful instrument for teachers to encourage students’ motivation in order to increase student’s achievement.