Relationships of important elements of the student teaching experience and methods of student teaching placement to the quality of experience of student teachers
The purpose of this study was to determine important elements and placement practices of student teaching as perceived by teacher educators and how well each student teacher perceived his/her quality of experience based on these criteria. Data were collected using mail questionnaires following procedures by Dillman (2000). Three different mail questionnaires were used to gather information from 50 different head teacher educators (35 responding), 77 teacher educators (45 responding), and 204 student teachers from the 2001-2002 academic school year (140 responding). Head teacher educator respondents indicated that the number one placement practice for placing student teachers was that of the cooperating teacher having at least three years teaching experience (mean=4.61) Teacher educator respondents indicated that a cooperating center having access to the World Wide Web (mean=4.79) was the most important element of a cooperating center. Additionally, teacher educators indicated that a cooperating teacher who supports other school activities was the most important cooperating teacher element (mean=4.28). As a whole, student teachers indicated that they learned a great deal from their student teaching experience (mean=4.65) and that the student teaching component of their teacher education program was the most valuable component (mean=4.54). Statistically siginificant relationships between student teacher perceptions of their cooperating center elements and the quality of their student teaching experience existed. The elements with a positive correlation and statistical significance included cooperating center facilities (r=.447) and cooperating teacher and student teacher relationships (r=.853). The correlation coefficient (r=.389) between the level of importance of student teaching placement methods and the quality of the student teacher experience indicated a low positive relationship (Davis, 1971, but was not significant at the .05 alpha level. This indicated that the more time and effort teacher educators spend on placing student teachers may increase the student teacher's quality of experience.