M. Prytula, D. Burgess, J. Solheim, M. Nahachewsky

University of Saskatchewan (CANADA)
The purpose of this study is to explore the benefits and challenges of partnered placements for achieving the multiple goals of internship, and to explore the effectiveness of using an online placement program to determine best matches for partnered placements.

Teacher induction through mentorship is arguably a critical and common component across teacher education programs (Bowen & Roth, 2006; Darling-Hammond, Hammerness, Grossman, Rust, & Shulman, 2005). In teacher education programs, much of the mentorship component occurs during the period called the practicum, the highly-valued period during which participants learn “about practice in practice” (p. 401).

The current mentorship model has allowed teacher isolation to be entrenched in teacher education programs through the pairing of one intern and one teacher. Relatively recently, deliberate attempts have been made to place pre-service teachers in pairs with the same master teacher, with the intention of developing peer-coaching or collaborative teaching practices (see Ammentorp & Madden, 2014; Bacharach, et al., 2010; Bowen & Roth, 2006). Often termed ‘partnered placements’, mentorship in pairs provides the opportunity for a variety of distinct benefits including problem solving, innovation, emotional and classroom support, and deep learning for the mentor and mentee (Gardiner & Robinson, 2011), as well as the students (Bacharach et al., 2010). Partnered placements have also resulted in an increase in professionalism, student learning, and cooperating teacher growth (DelColle & Keenan, 2015). The benefits of partnered placements are credited to the team teaching model, which includes sharing ideas, engaging in discussion, and learning through alternate worldviews (Baeten & Simons, 2014).

Common to most colleges or schools of education, the pairing of mentor-teachers and interns is done using a variety of factors, including grade or subject area, elementary or high school categorization, rural or urban placement availability, and special subject knowledge (such as language or extracurricular interests), to name but a few. Considering the limitations to this matching approach, and inspired by the online dating scene, an online matching system was designed for internship placements with the goal of having an efficient and effective system that considers applicants’ personality and skills when making a match.

Using a quantitative algorithm, the system uses participant responses to six personality questions, six skills questions, six questions assigning an importance ranking to personality preferences, and six questions assigning an importance ranking to skills preferences to generate match scores. Match scores are based on how complimentary the question responses are, weighted by the importance ranking. Match scores are further enhanced by similarities in extra-curricular interests, language aptitudes, and supplementary specialized skills. The development of the system has created an opportunity for investigating the potential for using internship matching in creating compatible matches not only for the one-to-one internship format, but also for partnered placements.