Contributions and challenges of cognitive tools and microteaching for preservice teachers' instructional planning and teaching skills

Şahinkayası, Hamide
This study aimed to investigate the potentials of two cognitive tools for instructional planning (Instructional Planning Self-reflective Tool, IPSRT, and Constructivist Planning Self-reflective Tool, CPSRT) and microteaching in gaining instructional planning and teaching skills for preservice teachers. The participants were 51 fourth year students in Computer Education and Instructional Technology program. The study is an action research with three main foci. The first focus of this study aimed at investigating contributions and challenges involved in the use of the cognitive tools for instructional planning with tutoring from the instructor. More specifically, to what extent the preservice teachers followed these tools during this process, the effects of these tools on preservice teachers’ self-efficacy, the perceived instrumentality regarding instructional planning, and the perceived contributions and challenges presented by these tools were focused. Both tools were introduced to the two sections, in different orders within four weeks. The data for this focus were collected by means of questionnaires, interviews and documents (lesson plans). This focus revealed that; expect for writing objectives, the participants could make instructional plans according to the IPSRT. They could also follow the CPSRT to design the instructional goal, required characteristics of learning activities and the assessment. Both tools were found to significantly increase their initial self-efficacy beliefs. They found CPSRT more flexible, while IPSRT easier and more helpful. This focus indicated that IPSRT and CPSRT can be used as supportive tools in preservice teachers’ gaining instructional planning skills. If both tools were used, it would be better to introduce IPSRT at first and then CPSRT. The second focus of this study was to explore the contributions and challenges of microteaching activities regarding preservice teachers’ instructional planning and teaching skills. The microteaching activities took eight weeks. Throughout this phase, each student planned a 20-minute microteaching with tutoring from the instructor and performed it in the classroom. The performers were formatively evaluated through a microteaching assessment form by the instructor, the teaching assistants and some preservice teachers. Then the performers made a self-reflection assignment about their microteaching performance, considering those evaluations. In the following semester, 15 participants’ perceptions about the contributions and challenges posed by microteaching activities for their instructional planning and teaching skills were obtained through interviews. More specifically, their perceptions about the microteaching planning process with tutoring, performing microteaching, formatively assessing peers’ microteaching performances, being assessed by peers, and doing self-reflection assignment were analyzed. This focus revealed that although preservice teachers perceive microteaching activities as valuable experiences, microteaching would be more beneficial if the pupils were real ones, not their class-mates. The third focus was to investigate the effects of the cognitive tools and microteaching activities on preservice teachers’ lesson planning and teaching skills in their field teaching. For this aim, 12 participants’ field teaching lesson plans and their performance assessments were analyzed. It was found that many of them preferred using the Microteaching Planning Guide and they had no difficulty in their lesson planning. As to field teaching performance, the analyses of the assessment forms showed that a majority of them performed successfully. Besides, most of them were observed not to have anxiety during field teaching. This focus showed that these cognitive tools and microteaching activities could improve preservice teachers’ self-confidence in lesson planning and teaching skills in real class environment. Considering to meeting the need for better qualified teachers, this study promised that applying these cognitive tools and microteaching model in schools of teacher education is likely to contribute to the instructional planning and teaching skills of preservice computer teachers. This study also offers suggestive implications for how to improve teaching methods courses with the two cognitive tools and microteaching, as well.