Orr, Kevin (2009) College Cultures and Pre-Service Trainee Teachers: a study in the creation and transmission of ideas about teaching. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis analyses the college placement element of pre-service initial teacher training (ITT) and its impact on ideas about teaching in Further Education (FE). It considers both trainees and serving teachers to investigate this impact on ideas in relation to individuals’ experiences of placement and in relation to ideas held in general society by distinguishing cultures and questioning how they each shape
notions about teaching. The placement experience is examined within the broad context of work-based learning (WBL) and the thesis draws on and assesses the explanatory power of three theorisations commonly adopted within WBL research; communities of practice; Cultural Historical Activity Theory; and Bourdieu’s concepts of field and habitus. Though trainees’ experience of the placement is characterised
by messiness and diversity, the small groups they work within at colleges generally cannot be defined as self-sustaining cultures. Moreover, ideas about teaching held in society are often more influential on trainees’ development than the particular situation of their placement during training, even where trainees are placed within distinctive cultures. Trainee and serving teachers in FE, therefore, experience a
hierarchy of influences, including government policy, as well as concomitant tensions between agency and control, all relating to the unequal structures of society. This understanding exposes the weakness of some theorisations in describing how ideas about teaching are formed and disseminated. This thesis argues that the Marxist
concept of alienation more adequately describes the situation of trainees and teachers in FE and the formation of their ideas and practice. It finally argues for ITT for FE to be constructed around a body of professional knowledge as a
counterbalance to the limitations of the experience of placement.

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