Working with student teachers

Subject: Information studies. Study level: Bachelor. Class size: 75.

Motivation for the activity

The students - especially during the first semester - do not in general like to make presentations in front of the whole year or in the front of the lecturer. Student teachers are older students, which means that the students are more open to discussions and in general not so afraid to show doubt and ignorance.

Description of the activity

The students on the basic studies - here specifically first semester students - have a weekly lecture for all members of the year group. The lecture contains primarily theory, as well as examples of various elements of the theory. In continuation of the lecture there are training lessons, where the year group is divided into three classes of approx. 25 students. These training lessons are conducted by the student teachers, who in part organise student presentations in the study groups and in part use relevant empirical material to help the students apply the theory analytically in practice.

What do the student teachers do?

  • The student teachers set weekly assignments for the study groups which must be uploaded via AULA prior to the training lessons, so that everyone is prepared to a certain extent.
  • The student teachers attend my lectures as part of their own preparation. This is not compulsory, but it has proved to be very useful for the student teachers as they then know what the lecturer has been telling the students. After the lecture we hold a brief meeting about how things are going with the students.

It is important to give the student teachers a high degree of freedom to run the training lessons as they wish. This gives them more job satisfaction and it thus also gives the students more motivation when the student teachers are ‘fired up.’

What does the lecturer do?

It is important that the lecturer is responsible for

  • emphasising to the student teachers that they are not lecturers: They do not need to be able to answer every question and they are allowed to say "I don't know, but we can ask Anne Marie."
  • talking of the lecturer + student teacher as a 'we', and emphasising that the student teachers count just as much as the lecturer in educational terms.
  • having a close collaboration on what we require from the students; this means that we always agree on 'the rules'.
  • always supporting the student teachers, even with the smallest problem. As a lecturer you have enough authority to be able to admit mistakes that you have not made, such as taking the blame in case of doubt arising about something or other.

As a lecturer you must never undermine the authority/status of the student teachers. You should therefore avoid hinting at disagreements between lecturer and student teacher. It is better to say "Oh dear, I have not given you thorough information, I'm sorry."

Ergo: It is very important that there is a common 'we' both out of consideration for the student teachers, but also for the sake of the students' confidence in us, which ultimately does have an influence on the students' learning.

Reflections on the activity

Having two student teachers is an advantage; one who has experience and can 'train' the new - so you always have someone who has tried it before and someone new who is in training as a student teacher. This ensures there is continuity. But you should also remember to give them the freedom to do things differently.

This has in practice improved the academic/educational aspect over the years. As a lecturer I have received good inputs