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Challenges pre-service teachers face while learning to teach Accounting in the context of mentoring
Dos Reis, Karen Marion
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The study focused on the challenges pre-service teachers face while learning to teach Accounting in the context of mentoring at a University of Technology. The major purpose was to investigate the kinds of challenges pre-service teachers face in teaching Accounting and how their respective school-based mentors respond to these challenges. It is vital to understand these challenges while learning to teach Accounting before a mentor can respond to them. This study was located within an interpretivist paradigm. The interpretivist researcher is keen to address social issues in and through their research. To position this study within the context of learning while teaching within a context of mentoring, I utilized case study research methodology. The main purpose of utilizing case study methodology was to develop a deep understanding of the challenges pre-service teachers face while learning to teach Accounting and the nature of mentoring. The voices and experiences of the respondents were used to explore and understand the reality embedded in the mentoring of pre-service teachers during teaching practice. The research sites included six schools located in the Cape Metropole, Western Cape, South Africa. I used purposive sampling to select the participants for my study. I focused on Accounting as a ‘vehicle’ to guide my choice of sampling to explore how pre-service teachers learn while teaching Accounting. The sample of this study consisted of six pre-service teachers learning to teach Accounting in the fourth year B Ed:FET programme and their respective school-based Accounting mentors. The main reason for using the fourth year preservice teachers was that in their final year of study they spend six months at a school to work alongside a school-based mentor. This time period gave the researcher sufficient time to explore challenges and how the school-based mentors respond to them. The research methods used in this study were reflection journals, unstructured interviews, focus group interviews and fieldnotes. Reflective journals can provide the teacher educator with a valuable tool showing how pre-service teachers perceive and experience teaching practice while learning to teach (Mills, 2007:69). The pre-service teachers were requested to complete entries in a reflection journal on a weekly basis, to write on their experiences while learning to teach Accounting and to describe the nature of their school-based mentors’ support. The purpose of the unstructured interview with the pre-service teachers was to gain a better understanding of their challenges while learning to teach Accounting and their interaction with their mentors, if the information in their reflection journals were unclear. Unstructured interviews were conducted with the Accounting school-based mentors to ascertain the preservice teachers’ performance while learning to teach Accounting, and to gain perspective of the Accounting mentor’s role as mentor. Two focus group interviews were conducted with the pre-service teachers to corroborate the challenges the pre-service teachers experience while learning to teach Accounting. A total of 96 reflection journal entries were collected from the pre-service teachers, 18 unstructured interviews were conducted with the pre-service teachers, 12 unstructured interviews were conducted with the school-based mentors and 2 focus group interviews were conducted. Data revealed that despite mentoring having the potential to enhance the preparation of preservice teachers, it does not always yield positive results. It also became clear in the data that the nature of the Accounting discipline requires a different type of mentoring as opposed to other disciplines. Hence a ‘one size fits all’ mentoring institutional policy does not yield the desired results of mentoring pre-service teachers in the B Ed:FET programme. Findings from this study suggest that the university must play a greater role in developing mentorship programmes to support pre-service teachers learning to teach during teaching practice, especially for Accounting pre-service teachers.