Perceptions of student teachers and teacher educators on teaching practice in colleges of education in Livingstone district, Zambia.

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Chidakwa, Mweetwa Frinah
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The University of Zambia
The study investigated the perceptions (referred to in this study as propositions or views) student teachers and teacher educators hold toward teaching practice in colleges of education in Livingstone District. The perceptions of student teachers and teacher educators were established as pivotal elements of gauging the benefits of teaching practice program in colleges of education as well as identifying the challenges faced by student teachers and teacher educators during the teaching practice period. The study utilized the qualitative approach. The design used was a case study. A total sample of 26 participants consisting of 16 student teachers and 10 teacher educators was purposively drawn from two government colleges of education and three schools in Livingstone District. Data was collected through Focus Group Discussion with the student teachers and One-to-One interview with the lecturers and class teachers. Analysis of data was done thematically where emerging themes were presented in a descriptive form. The findings from the study revealed that, though student teachers and teacher educators showed positive perceptions towards teaching practice, student teachers were more appreciative of the benefits of integrating teaching practice in the teaching and learning process. The study further found that student teachers faced challenges such as lack of orientation, supervisor’s poor skills in teaching practice, lack of teaching/learning materials, practical teaching skills, and classroom control and management skills. Based on the findings, the study concluded that the positive perceptions of student teachers and teacher educators on the teaching practice program play a key role in the success of the practicum. The study further established that, identification of the challenges of student teachers and teacher educators and their subsequent resolution are key pathways of enhancing practical teaching skills, classroom control and management of the future teachers on one hand, and the work of colleges on the other. The study recommends that colleges of education should consider addressing the challenges that student teachers have regarding teaching practice as it is done at college and schools. In the same vein, the colleges of education in the district should, among other things prioritize teaching practice by allocating more time to the course during the theoretical training in colleges so as to better equip student teachers with practical knowledge and skills for their future work. Furthermore, the colleges should also provide instructional aids in the schools in order to strengthen the link between pre-service training experiences and the employment work places of future teachers. In order to strengthen these, student teachers performance during teaching practice should be assessed in all areas such as lesson planning, record keeping, general teaching skills and style of delivery of subject matter. Key words: Teaching practice, Perceptions, Student teachers, Teacher educator.
Teaching practice--Perceptions , Teaching practice--Student teachers-- Teacher educator