THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE APPLIED PART OF AN IN-SERVICE TEACHER'S COURSE; INTEGRATION OF THEORY AND PRACTICE
, M. Nachshon2
1the Open University, Psychology & Education Department (ISRAEL)
2Ministry of Education and Oranim, Academic College of Education (ISRAEL)
A curriculum in its broadest sense is perceived as the sum of its components: planning, operation and assessment of instructional – learning processes in a given subject. Researchers refer to the distinction between the theoretical curriculum, written by independent experts, and explains what ought to be taught, and the curriculum used in the field, which is not necessarily identical to the written curriculum.
In this research, the importance of the practical components of the program and their significance to implementation in the field, are considered. Two seminar courses with similar characteristics for teachers studying towards a second degree in two central's academic institutes were considered: the theoretical sections of both courses were parallel.
Its unique nature is in the fact that one course continues over a period of two semesters: one theoretical and the other its practical application, while the second course is theoretical over one semester only.
We checked whether and to what extent integration of the practical component in addition to the theoretical part of the course, contributes to the work of the teacher in the field, and how students perceive it. The research tool was a questionnaire with open ended and closed questions. The research population was in-service teachers after finishing their training in second degree.
The findings did not show that the learners placed any intrinsic value on theory as such – their approach was more practical.
A summary of the findings shows that the two dependent variables: student perception of the contribution of the practical component of an academic course, and the ability of the learner to apply what he learned in the course about his own learning processes in the classroom, are a reflection of the learners' professional development This perception is understood from the statements made by the respondents. The quantitative findings indicate that learners in the experimental group agree on the feasibility of the program and its contribution to teaching, while amongst learners in the comparative group there is no consistence trend. The qualitative findings indicate that students of both groups see the importance of integrating a practical dimension into the program.
These findings show that teachers should be trained, on both academic-disciplinary and applied-experiential levels, however this is difficult to do simultaneously, and therefore the practical training should follow completion of the first stage – the academic training. This is in order to be in command of knowledge and skills required by entry level teachers into the teaching world, and in order to develop thinking skills and professional confidence. Conclusions of the research indicate that the correct way to train teachers is to integrate theoretical and practical elements. Learners perceive this integrated approach as facilitating efficient use of the curriculum. By analyzing the answers of the experimental group, it was found that great importance is attached to filming of lessons as a significant pedagogical tool. Teachers who have important roles in the system feel that these courses support them and give them more authority and validity in performing their duties. Teachers who are not officials reported significant professional development following their learning.