When the form stands in the way of content – a study of student teachers’ reading practices
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEducation Inquiry. 2015, 6 (4), 437-455. 10.3402/edui.v6.24297
Even though recurring criticism has been directed against the academic part of teacher education, little research has focused on student teachers as they engage in their academic studies. Reporting on a study of 53 Norwegian student teachers, this article explores student teachers’ reading practices in university courses in education. The study draws on the notion of approaches to learning as a particularly influential perspective in research on higher education. The findings reveal that the student teachers predominantly apply a deep approach to learning (with the aim to understand) and that writing academic texts in particular acts as an enabler of this approach. However, the participants also reported considerable difficulties with reading pedagogical literature. The article suggests that, in order to understand the persistent criticism against teacher education, there is a need to pay explicit attention to supporting student teachers in dealing with different text genres and texts from different academic disciplines. It also suggests that the important factor in students’ engagement with theory is not necessarily that it can be used immediately in the classroom, but that they recognise themselves as persons. Finally, the article raises a question about the balance between breadth and depth in the university courses.