1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Education is a good instrument for the comprehensive development of the human beings where the whole body is effectively utilized to achieve a pre-determined set of objectives, (A.E. Ejili and N.O. Anyanwu, 2006). It is a complex process which starts to improve out lives as soon as we are born, and continues to do so until we die. According to F.H. Aguba (2006: 58) “The aim of education is the production of good men, that is, for one to be educated, one must be prepared to use the knowledge of what is good and must be prepared to use the knowledge in the service of God and humanity. We can say that, education is a process of acquiring ideas, skills and values that facilitate the development of the learner and the society at large. It is concerned with the development of the society. The nation recognizes the importance of teacher education when they continued to give a major emphasis in all out educational planning. This is basically because no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers, that is to say that the quality of the teachers in any country determines the quality of her education and the level of national development.
The National Policy on Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1998) outlined the purpose of teacher education as follows;
a) to produce highly motivated, conscientious effective classroom teacher for all learning in our educational system.
b) to encourage further the spirit of enquiry and creativity in teachers;
c) to help teachers to fit into the society of the community and the society at large and to enhance their commitment to national objectives;
d) to provides teachers with intellectual professional background adequate for assignment and to make them adaptable to any changing situation not only in the life of their country but to the wider world;
e) to enhance teachers commitment to the teaching profession.
Teaching practice is a very important aspect of any teacher training programme. It is a student-teacher and prospective regular teacher what housemanship is to young medical doctor. Questions may be asked – why does a young lawyer on being called to the Bar choose first to understudy an older and more experienced lawyer? Why do young medical doctors go for housemanship under the more experienced ones? Why do vocational education students go on Industrial Training? Likewise, why do student-teachers or prospective teachers go on Teacher Practice? These questions and their answers are very similar. No human being anywhere would have to face some dangers that could be avoided. There is a popular adage which says that “Prevention is always better than cure” or “a stitch in time, saves nine”. Most of the student-teachers do not seem to be fully aware of this fact, may be because of the small proportion of the entire time allocated to teaching, he needs to go through adequate and appropriate teaching practice experience.
Akilaiya (2001) defined teaching practice as an integral part of teacher education programme which provides opportunity for student-teachers to put all theoretical knowledge into practice in real school situation. It is a compulsory practical exercise for every student-teacher. This, it is the first opportunity for a student-teacher to participate in activities involved in teaching in actual situations. It affords the prospective teacher the opportunity to test, prove the lecture-room theoretical assertions and at the same time provide a forum for him to try out teaching and see whether he can really be a good teacher. So it is very essential that student-teachers should take teaching practice very seriously.
The objectives of teaching practice for assessing student-teachers are as follows:
i) to provide opportunities for the student to acquire and prove teaching skills;
ii) to enable the student effectively plan and prepare lessons;
iii) to help the student develop traits, attitudes and abilities;
iv) to enable the student to acquire the characteristics of a teacher and to display appropriate behaviour; and
v) to enable the student to bring about learning in children.
The seven principles for good practice on good teaching and learning in schools are;
i) it encourages good contact between students and lectures,
ii) it develops reciprocity and co-operation among students,
iii) it gives prompt feedback,
iv) it emphasizes time on task,
v) it communicates high expectations, and
vi) it respect diverse talents and ways of learning.
According to Iloh (2001), the key actors in Teaching Practice are; the student-teachers, the resident supervisors, the college supervisors and the principals/heads of departments of the co-operating schools.
The student-teacher is the prospective teacher that is still under training, who is acquiring skills, knowledge and techniques required for teaching profession. At this point, he puts all he had learnt into practice.
The resident supervisor means the co-operating teacher in the co-operating schools. He is the teacher the student-teacher meets at school where he is doing his teaching practice. He may be the class teacher of the class the student-teacher is using for practice. He sees whether the student-teacher is punctual and regular in his class. He also assists him with his lesson note so as to have an effective lesson note.
College supervisor is the student-teacher’s lecturer. He comes to find out whether the student-teacher has really understood what he has been taught as regards the teaching techniques and methodology. And finally brings back the student-teacher’s performance to his school.
The principals/head of departments of the co-operating schools is the person in-charge of the co-operating school where the student-teacher is doing his teaching practice. He helps in the selection of co-operating teachers who can work with the student-teachers. He builds rapport among resident teachers and student-teachers to enhance their professional growth.
Microteaching is one of the most important developments in the field of teaching practice. It is originated in Stanford University in 1963. This practice holds very great promise for the future of teacher preparations. It goes a long way to solving some of the challenges involved in student teaching practice. Before the introduction of the microteaching, there was no provision for the student-teachers to practice the act of teaching before they do on teaching practice. And their performances in teaching practice during those periods were not satisfied. So microteaching helps the student-teaches to have an early encounter with teaching and in this way attempts to put into practice some of the theories learnt in the lectures.
The importance of teaching practice is that it is a crucial period for the teacher to put into practice all the theoretical/practical concepts learnt at school. It is difficult to recognize good teaching unless one has passed through the process. In order to translate theory into practice, the student-teacher will encounter a lot of challenges, but since teaching practice is important in the teaching preparation programme, there is a need for adequate planning and implementation. This study is mainly focused on finding out those challenges encountered by the practicing student-teachers and possible solutions to those challenges.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
The importance of the teacher in relation to the quality of education a country provides to its citizenry, explains, in part why special training and practical experience are part and parcel of any well programmed teacher education scheme. The teaching practice experience exposes the student-teacher in the field of teaching and enhances him to be effective in the classroom.
There are numbers of problems that militate against the effective implementation of the teaching practice programme in general. The specialized nature of the programme further complicates problems in this area. This study would therefore investigate fully the challenges and also find the possible solutions to them.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study aims at investigating the challenges encountered by student-teachers during teaching practice and their possible solutions. This study is specifically meant to:
i) Find out the exact role of the student-teachers, the co-operating teachers (i.e. the resident supervisors), the college supervisors and the principals/heads of departments of the co-operating school.
ii) Find out the challenges encountered by student-teachers during teaching practice.
iii) Identify useful solutions to the challenges outlined in (ii) above.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is directed towards identifying people that will benefit from this research work and how they benefited from it. The under listed people benefited from this work, they are:
i. The Researcher: This work has challenge the researcher to apply the theoretical knowledge of research work into practical or real project work. Thereby equipped them with rudiment of research work.
ii. The Students: This work can also be of interest to students who may like to carry out research work in the same area which involve the stated problem.
iii. Teachers:Practising teachers will find this material beneficial in the sense that it will help them to understand and device needs of averting challenges that surround teaching career. It can also assist aspiring teachers to develop interest in teaching career, having identified those challenges student-teacher encountered during teaching practice and fortified themselves in order to face the challenges.
iv. Parents: Parents can still find the material beneficial because they can offer solutions to the challenges of teaching practice which have been identified in this project work. They can as well find it useful by reading the work in order to know some of the challenges which student-teachers faced during teaching practice. Furthermore, having identified some of the challenges during teaching practice and proffering solutions will go a long way in directing student-teachers in the right course thereby equipping them to be competent, qualitative, and skillful teachers who will teach the future generation. In that direction, parents have benefited as their children will acquire sound education.
v. Curriculum Planners: This work will help curriculum planners to direct their planning towards addressing the challenges of student-teachers during teaching practice which will in turn improve the planning process and educational activities.
vi. Government: Government will find this work beneficial as they will able to know some of the challenges which student-teachers encountered thereby contribute in an attempt to find a way out.
vii. School Authority: This work will help the school authority to know the areas they are not covering effectively, hence will address the situation.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Due to certain constraints such as time, and finance, this research work was limited to the challenges which the student-teachers encountered during their teaching practice using Enugu State college of Education (Technical) science education final year student-teachers.
This research work does not in anyway investigate problems associated with policy implementation in entire state but mainly focuses on those challenges that influence effective performance of student-teachers during their teaching practice, challenges, and solutions with examples.
There are different factors that make this project to be carried out within the confinement of Enugu State College of Education (Technical) in regards to investigating student-teachers’ challenges during Teaching Practice. Some of these constraints include:-
(i) Poor Management of Time by the Researchers: The researchers find it difficult to manage the time interval meant for this work effectively and this has contributed a limitation to this project work.
(ii) Problem of Unity of the Group: The researchers in this group were unable to maintain group cohesion such as attendance to meeting and contribution to provision of research materials etc.
(iii) Problem of finding material: The researchers find this factor a militating factor as they were unable to gather all relevant data or materials within the time limit.
(iv) Respondents: During the time of administering questionnaire, the respondents in school cannot be reached out due to long vocation of the schools. This creates a barrier to the project, compelling us to use science education final year student-teachers in Enugu State College of Education (Technical), Enugu.
1.7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In order to examine student-teachers’ challenges during teaching practice, the following research questions were formulated:
i) what are the personal challenges facing student-teachers during teaching practice?
ii) do we have challenges posed to student-teachers by pupils in the classroom?
iii) what are the challenges posed by relationship of principal and practising teachers with student-teacher?
iv) do we have challenges associated with the school organization/management?
v) what are the challenges associated with supervision/supervisors?
vi) do we have challenges posed by the student-teachers’ institution?