Bringing Professional Experience to the Rural University Classroom through Community Play Sessions: Experiences of Pre-service Teachers and Families
- Year: 2008
- Author: McFarlland, Laura; Lord, Allison
- Journal Name: Education in Rural Australia
- Journal Number: Vol. 18, No. 1
- Country: Australia
- State/Region: New South Wales
This pilot study examined the experiences of 24 teacher education students and nine caregivers who participated in a weekly community play session on a rural University campus in NSW, Australia. Students completed a questionnaire at the beginning of the 13 week semester and at the end of the semester and were asked about confidence levels in various aspects of infant/toddler teaching skills and about the value and challenges of the play sessions. Parents completed a questionnaire about the benefits of play sessions for themselves and their children. Quantitative results indicated that students rated play session interactions with parents as being least helpful in preparation for practicum and least valuable in general, but indicated they gained most in the area of interactions with parents. Students increased their confidence levels in most areas of teaching skills by the end of the semester, except in parent-interaction. The major challenge cited was the high number of university students compared to children. Qualitative themes that emerged included issues related to environments and student learning and practice. Parents indicated high ratings of benefits for themselves and their children, particularly in the area of supporting social development of children and providing social networking for themselves. Implications for creating practical experiences related to parent interactions and relationship building in teacher education programmes, are discussed.