Microteaching and teaching practice are two integral parts of pre-service teacher education programmes. Microteaching has been used since the 1960s in teaching and learning environments including practice teaching for pre-service teachers (Görgen, 2003; Saban and Çoklar, 2013). The emphasis of professional development in teacher education has been on developing the pedagogic skills of teachers. Although some prospective teachers acquire a good amount of theoretical understanding of subjects in the primary curriculum, many of them receive low marks for teaching practice. This phenomenon is a major problem that prospective teachers face. The main objective of this study was to examine to what extent teaching skills of primary prospective teachers could be fostered utilizing microteaching. In order to achieve this objective, an action- research model (Whitehead and McNiff, 2006) was used. In the study 10 prospective teachers were selected. Data were gathered using lesson observations, interviews and document analysis. The results of the study revealed that microteaching had an impact on participants in the improvement of teaching skills and in developing written lesson plans, using teaching methods and techniques, presentation explanation, classroom management and assessment skills. In addition, it was shown that for microteaching practice to be effective, the duration of each lesson needed to be within 5-20 minutes and the number of classroom students to be 15 or less. Furthermore, providing opportunities for participating pre-service teachers to identify their own weaknesses by observing recorded teaching activities seemed to be most effective in this study.
Pre-service teacher education is provided by the National College of Education (NCoE) in Sri Lanka. There are 19 NCoE which provide two year pre-service teacher education programmes leading to the National Diploma in Teaching (NDT), with a one-year internship which caters to the teacher requirements at the primary (1-5), and junior secondary (6-11) levels of the school system. The curriculum of NCoE consists of academic components, professional components and general components all of which are implemented over 2 year time period. Teaching practice which is included in the education practice component is compulsory for prospective teachers. During my tenure as a teacher educator for 12 years, I observed that prospective teachers face many obstacles when engaged in teaching practice in primary classrooms. Although some prospective teachers are good at theory-based understanding of subjects in the primary curriculum, most of them have low marks for teaching practice. Due to this reason, prospective teachers tend to show no enthusiasm for the practice period of the semesters. To change this situation, I conducted action research in this context to ascertain the impact of a new approach to practice teaching on prospective teachers.
Research Goal, Method and Outcomes
Background and Research Goal
Microteaching is a strategy for developing teachers’ abilities. It uses real-life teaching situations to build pedagogic abilities while assisting students to have a better understanding of the art of teaching. Saban and Çoklar (2013) indicate that microteaching is a method that has been used since the 1960s in teaching- learning environments including in the practice teaching of prospective teachers. Microteaching provides prospective teachers with fresh and distinct chances for creating and implementing novel teaching practices. Because of its ability to stress the link between theory and practice, microteaching is one of the methods used by pre-service teacher education to align knowledge and abilities into practice, thus bridging the gap between theory and practice (Sa’ad et al., 2015).
During the cycle of microteaching, pre-service teachers provide micro-lessons which they have planned and prepared to real students (Bilen, 2015). Video cameras or portable receivers are used to record lessons. Pre-service teachers then watch and listen to the video recording at the end of the presentation on their own. Reddy (2019) suggested that based on the constructive feedback provided and the ideas of the guiding teachers and their friends, pre-service teachers should rewrite the lesson plan and re-teach micro lessons to the same group. In addition, the second micro lessons can be recorded; after seeing the second micro lesson, the teacher and peers give their feedback on the worst and best aspects of the first and second micro lessons. At the end of the cycle, microteaching techniques allow pre-service teachers to assess their strengths and shortcomings and work to improve their weak areas by themselves. Zhou (2017) stated that providing an opportunity to practice collaborative reflection, giving instant feedback, and learning from each other are significantly related to the success of microteaching.
Furthermore, in microteaching, pre-service teachers get opportunities to develop skills such as preparation of lesson plans, determination of teaching goals, drawing students’ attention, speaking in front of groups, asking questions, managing time effectively, and determining assessment techniques (Bilen, 2015). Literature has demonstrated that microteaching is beneficial, that pre-service teachers may benefit much from employing microteaching, and that their perspectives on teaching may greatly improve with the aid of microteaching (e.g., Saban and Çoklar, 2013). Fernández’s work (2010) highlights the aspects of microteaching that are centrally important for prospective teachers learning, including active learning involving meaningful discussion, planning and practice, support from a knowledgeable advisor, collaborative deliberation-in-process, and the opportunity to try, analyze, and revise.
Although Pre-service teachers learn theories of teaching and learning in the college where I have served, when they practice it in classrooms they face many obstacles even when planning and teaching a lesson that was successful in the college. Research findings in Sri Lanka point out that primary teachers are frequently more theoretically oriented and often unable to implement lessons in the classroom (Kumari, 2018). Thus, empowering students to teach a lesson confidently is essential during the teacher training period. Hence, a teacher educator has a responsibility to foster their teaching skills related to the subjects. Kodituwakku (2010) stressed that action research can strengthen the role of teachers in Sri Lanka. As microteaching is identified as an effective method to help teacher development, I utilized this pedagogical practice to conduct a study utilizing action research based on the Whitehead and McNiff (2006) model to help teacher trainees acquire knowledge and skills needed to fulfill the complex role of the teacher.
The research goal of this study was to determine whether implementing microteaching will enhance the teaching skills of prospective teachers in my workplace. Specific research objectives were:
- Identify problems faced by prospective teachers when practice teaching.
- Implement a microteaching program that facilitates enhancing teaching practice skills among prospective teachers.
- Assess the effectiveness of the microteaching approach.
Action research was used for this study. Whitehead and McNiff’s (2006) model (Figure 1; Slide #2) was selected to carry out this study. As indicated in the diagram, the initial strategies were devised based on classroom observation, document review, and interview data obtained in the observation phase. The process has been a continued cycle of reflection, action, evaluation, and modification as shown in Figure 1.
Participants and Data Sources
I observed two groups of second-year prospective teachers in the primary education course during their teaching sessions in the first semester. Each group consisted of twelve teacher trainees. While observing their average marks at the end of the semester, I found that ten teacher trainees (3 males and 7 females) received low marks (less than 60 out of 100). Having an average mark below sixty is not satisfactory for teacher trainees to complete their training successfully. Interviews, classroom observations, and documents (lesson plans, reflection notes) were used to identify the problems faced by these prospective teachers during teaching practice. Classroom observations were used to identify prospective teachers’ natural behaviors while teaching in the classrooms. To examine the prospective teachers’ views of their experiences regarding teaching lessons, reflective notes by the students/prospective teachers were analyzed.
Step 1: Observation – Identify participants’ natural behaviors while engaged in teaching practice in a classroom. How did they plan their lessons, how did they present and explain concepts, how did they use teaching methods and techniques, and how did they assess students in their teaching practice.
Step 2: Reflection – Identify what knowledge and skills for prospective teachers are needed to achieve competent teaching, utilizing classroom observations, interviews and reflection notes.
Step 3: Action – Provide opportunities for prospective teachers to obtain needed experiences using microteaching, with awareness programs, workshops and lesson demonstrations.
Step 4: Evaluation – Prospective teachers were given two weeks for teaching practice and were evaluated on their teaching skills.
Step 5: Modification – Check the marks on teaching practice lessons and reflections kept in the reflection journal. Provide the necessary support and guidance for improving teaching practice skills.
All data were examined deeply including tallies based on criteria included in the lesson observation sheet.
Planning and Implementing Intervention Activities through Five Steps
Step1: Pre-Intervention Observation
Teaching Practice Skills Identified Prior To the Intervention
The result of teaching practice skills of prospective teachers were illustrated based on criteria regarding (a) lesson planning, (b) using teaching method and techniques, (c) presentation explanation, (d) classroom management, and (e) assessment (Tables 1 and 2; Slide #3 and #4). These five criteria and sub-criteria were produced by the author for lesson observations. The total possible score was 100, assigning 20 points for each of 5 criteria.
Problems Faced by Prospective Teachers Based on the Observation Phase
In the observation phase I utilized lesson observations, reflection notes and interviews as data collection tools. For classroom observation I used a lesson observation sheet as mentioned above and utilized an interview schedule which included an open-ended questionnaire. The items included:
- What were the difficulties you faced in writing lesson plans?
- What did you feel when you presented a lesson to the students?
- Why did you assess students’ performance? And how did you do it?
- How did you prepare your classroom environment for a lesson?
- Did you have sufficient knowledge regarding making visual aids and using them correctly?
According to the data analysis, I could identify that there are two types of problems faced by prospective teachers when practice teaching.
- The problems related to Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK)
SMK can be defined as knowledge that the teacher needs to have, so they can organize the concepts, facts, principles and theories of a given discipline, as well as knowledge of the rules of evidence and proof which are used to generate and to justify knowledge claims in the discipline (Abell, 2007). In this study I identified that prospective teachers lacked sufficient subject matter knowledge regarding writing a lesson plan and conducting an assessment.
- The problems related to Pedagogical Knowledge
Teacher pedagogical knowledge involves knowledge of instructional principles, classroom organization and management, knowledge of the learners and how they learn and educational aims (Abell, 2007). It can be argued that the application of SMK in the classroom is the most important aspect of the work of the teacher. However, pedagogical knowledge is of great importance because it blends content and pedagogy. When examining prospective teachers’ reflections about their lessons, I found that prospective teacher’s lessons often were unsuccessful due to weak classroom management and that the prospective teachers could not involve the students in their lessons. For example, one student wrote, “Today is my unlucky day during this teaching practice session, because I couldn’t draw students’ attention to the lesson as they did their work; classroom was very noisy at that time”. During the interviews I asked several prospective teachers why they couldn’t manage their class. Their replies often were “I can’t manage them and I can’t draw their attention to the lesson” etc.
Step 2: Reflection
I was guided by the pre-intervention activities to reflect on how to adapt the teaching practice process and how to adopt a mentor’s role to help these prospective teachers improve their skills. Prospective teachers were instructed to write their reflection notes at the end of the teaching of a lesson “what are plus points of my lesson?” “Could I select suitable teaching methods for my lesson?” “Could I present and explain concept clearly?” “How were my classroom management skills?” “Was I able to plan a lesson correctly?” I guided them to write their experiences with examples. In addition, I used their teaching practice marks given by me for their earlier observed lessons. Using criteria included in the score sheet, I could identify the weakness and strengths students had. I summarized those details regarding each student and compared them with student’s reflection notes. Furthermore, interviews were used to emphasize those data. I also maintained reflection notes to guide me and determine how my special intervention plan should be organized.
Reflection for Action. I asked myself “why are these prospective teachers not clever and can’t explain any concept of a lesson clearly?” “Why don’t most prospective teachers’ have sufficient skills to teach a lesson quite satisfactorily?” For example, why were 6 of 10 students unable to give a clear explanation. I thought again and again about the lessons on theory and practice in the prospective teachers’ classrooms at the training college. In particular, I questioned whether they have enough opportunities to enhance their performance properly”? I hypothesized that there are less opportunities in their classrooms for practical activities. Due to that reason students lack sufficient skills for teaching practice in primary classrooms. According to the microteaching approach, opportunities need to be provided for educators to collaboratively discuss students’ needs, solve problems, demonstrate instructional techniques, lead or participate in professional development initiatives, share resources, and network with other professionals and outside agencies. On the whole, as a mentor I organized my “action” plan to examine my ideas and related hypotheses through 3 phases in the next step.
Step 3: Action
My intervention plan was devised in 3 phases.
Phase 1. Using presentations based on syllabi and modules, I conducted a 2-day awareness programme to develop my students’ subject knowledge. For this programme I invited lecturers in my college to contribute. My focus was to increase prospective teachers’ lesson plan writing based on subject knowledge, presentation skills, and assessment skills. Prospective teachers in this study learned some new concepts from sharing their experiences with their peers and they discussed with lecturers individually to address their particular issues. One prospective teacher (B) wrote in her reflection, “Being able to discuss with lecturers individually I was able to find answers to many questions I had. I learnt how to explain a basic concept step by step to primary students.” I could understand the prospective teachers’ views better using their reflection notes after the 1st phase.
Phase 2. This session was to develop students’ pedagogical knowledge and help them practice the knowledge they gained from the above session. I organized a one-day workshop in which I divided the participants into three groups; I instructed them to participate in all activities and keep a reflection note after each activity. I guided them to demonstrate micro lessons during 20 minutes. In addition, video cameras and portable receivers were used to record lessons. The prospective teachers then watched and listened to the video recording at the end of the presentation on their own. I and their friends provided constructive feedback and ideas to the prospective teachers. They used the ideas to rewrite the lesson plan and re-teach micro lessons to the same group. After seeing the second micro lesson from video, I and peers gave our feedback on the worst and best aspects of the first and second micro lessons. I noted how each prospective teacher participated in the activities.;
Phase 3. The focus of this phase was to prepare lesson plans and produce teaching aids. After getting theoretical and practical experiences, I guided the prospective teachers to write lesson plans and make teaching aids for selected lessons. In this phase prospective teachers exhibited more confidence than previously. For example, a prospective teacher (E) wrote in his reflection note, “I could write a lesson plan within a short period. But, before the workshop I needed about 3 hours to write a lesson plan. Although I had much time I don’t know whether it was correct or not.” When preparing teaching aides I noted that prospective teachers were being very creative and producing attractive materials.
Step 4: Evaluation
In the post-Intervention evaluation, prospective teachers were given two weeks for teaching in schools. Based on the scores obtained during teaching practice, I could identify if they had developed their skills compared to the pre-intervention evaluation (see Figure 2; Slide #5). I observed that when they were teaching lessons they taught with confidence. Their reflection notes demonstrated it further. After coming back from schools, every day during these two weeks I summoned all the participants to a meeting at the college. They all participated in the meeting enthusiastically. At this meeting, they prepared their lesson plans and teaching aids for the next day in schools under my guidance. I helped each prospective teacher individually and discussed the preparations with them.
Step 5: Modification
I checked the lesson plans, teaching aids, and teaching practice marks, and provided the necessary support. When observing teaching practice, I identified that two prospective teachers in my class (C,G) had difficulties managing the class in a good manner. Further, three students (D, F, and H) had some weakness in conducting outdoor activities exhibiting the use of classroom management. I then paid special attention to these students and supported them in addressing the issues.
Assessment of Intervention Results
The comparison between pre- and post-intervention scores shows students’ progress (Table 2; Slide #4, and Figure 2; Slide #5). In future follow-up studies with more participants, I will be able to conduct statistical significance testing. With regard to planning lessons, a pre-test and a post-test were administered and marks were offered. Here, all the students in the group showed an improvement in their lesson planning. Regarding the use of teaching aids during teaching practice, the same procedure was carried out as above. The performances of the group indicated a clear difference after the intervention process. Presentation and explanation was another area of focus. The group exhibited a clear difference between the pre- and post-tests. For instance, Student I and J who scored eight out of twenty (40%) at the pre-test, scored 17 (85%) at the post-test. Likewise, classroom management and assessment also showed a similar pattern of improvement. When 5 sub-scores were combined for each student, all students performed better after the intervention. Slide 5, 6, and 7 shows prospective teachers’ sample microteaching activities
The results indicate that microteaching had an impact on the improvement of teaching skills including developing lesson plans, using methods and techniques, presentation explanation, classroom management, and assessment skills of prospective teachers. It is reasonable to conclude that for these prospective teachers providing opportunities to identify their weaknesses by recording and reflecting on recordings was productive. As found in this study, for microteaching practice to be effective, the duration of each lesson needed to be within 5-20 minutes and the number of students in a classroom should be 15 or less. However, this conclusion should be further examined with more participants with varied duration and student numbers. Further, more studies should be conducted to examine whether microteaching can be used by mentors to practice not only for pre-service teacher education but also as a part of in-service teacher education.
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To cite this work, please use the following reference:
Kumari , H. M. N. D. (2021, June 11). Microteaching as a method to enhance prospective teachers’ teaching skills. Social Publishers Foundation. https://www.socialpublishersfoundation.org/knowledge_base/microteaching-as-a-method-to-enhance-prospective-teachers-teaching-skills/