Essays in Education


A well-defined conceptual framework helps identify a program’s central tasks, such as helping teachers become intellectual leaders, promoting the primacy of experience and/or developing a progressive social vision in teachers. This type of conceptual clarity provides guidance to teacher educators in program development and evaluation by identifying issues or tasks that specific programs should address (Feiman-Nemser, 1990).

Conceptual orientations research has typically relied on the analyses of course syllabi to infer a program’s emphases. The degree to which a program fosters knowledge acquisition in a particular area may or may not conform to these course/program descriptions. Direct data gathered from students can help address the issue of espoused versus enacted curriculum. However, students’ voices have been noticeably absent from conceptual orientation research within teacher education programs. This paper describes the instrument development and process for assessing conceptual orientations using a structured questionnaire with student teachers. Qualitative data that was used to help validate the survey as well as the statistical properties that attest to the soundness of the instrument will also be presented. The discussion outlines various applications of the developed instrument and proposes future areas of research.

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