In recent years, the English curriculum team at an Australian university has been integrating online learning into its undergraduate courses. While online delivery had been common in postgraduate programs, this has been a new development for pre-service teacher education in this context. One of the challenges of teacher education has always been to create authentic connections with the world of professional practice so that students experience the relevance of their university learning. The advent of online delivery models has added a new dimension to, as well as new resources for addressing, this challenge.
One of the skills pre-service educators need to learn is how to interpret evidence of students' learning. In the English curriculum this involves considering a student's achievement in reading, writing, speaking and listening as demonstrated in the performance of a range of learning tasks and activities. Concerns have been raised about new teachers' preparedness to carry out literacy assessment once they are in practice (Bainbridge & Macy 2008).
A case-based approach has been in use in in this particular course owing to its potential to engage pre-service educators in active decision making and bridge the gap between theory and practice (Bronack et al 1999). Multimedia technologies are currently expanding the affordances for presenting cases in teacher education contexts (Koury et al 2009). The Authentic Literacy Data Analysis project (ALDA) was established to develop and trial the use of digital resources in the form of learner case books. These digital case books contain multiple kinds of evidence gathered from classrooms relating to specific children at a range of year and ability levels.
This paper describes the process of implementing ALDA in the undergraduate English curriculum in a pilot study involving a cohort of 125 third year students. Pre- and post-surveys were carried out and student assignments were analysed. Teacher education academics were also interviewed. Initial analysis addressed the following questions:
• Which cases did the students choose to analyse?
• Which sources of evidence did students use?
• How did students engage with the evidence?
Three themes will be highlighted in this paper. First, the cases provided students with a motive and support for applying conceptual models encountered in the curriculum. Second, the multimedia presentation of case materials encouraged students to consider a wider range of semiotic modes in interpreting evidence. Thirdly, the provision of multiple sources of information invited students to adopt an independent critical position in negotiating between different possible interpretations.
Bainbridge, J., & Macy, L. (2008). Voices: student teachers link teacher education to perceptions of preparedness for literacy teaching. Teacher Education Quarterly, 35(2), 65 - 83.
Bronack, S. C., Kilbane, C. R., Herbert, J. M., & McNergney, R. F. (1999). In-service and pre-service teachers' perceptions of a web-based, case-based learning environment. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education, 8(3), 305-320.
Koury, K. M. K., Fitzgerald, G., Hollingsead, C., Miller, K., Hui-Hsien, T., & Shenghua, Z. (2009). The effects of instructional implementation on learning with interactive multimedia case-based instruction. Teacher Education & Special Education, 32(4), 297-318.