The Effectiveness of Teacher Preparation Programs With a Focus in Phonics Instruction
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Background: Proper literacy preparation for the teacher candidate is critical. More specifically, professionals who instruct early readers should have a strong understanding of phonics in order to effectively deliver instruction to students who can benefit from phonics instruction in both whole group and small group settings. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to critically analyze the perceptions of two teachers, one participant and the other as participant-researcher, regarding their phonics instruction preparation and poses the following research questions: 1) What are the perceptions of the two teachers in regards to their preparation for teaching phonics? 2) What phonics coursework did the teachers complete during their preparation program? And 3) How important do you think phonics preparation is? Methods: Multiple access points will be used to answer the research questions. A qualitative narrative design case study was conducted and data was collected using a semi-structured interview, participant-researcher self-study to provide an autobiographical account of phonics preparation, along with observations and field notes via the researcher-participant’s use of a bias journal. Interview and bias journal data was analyzed using constant comparative analysis. Results: The themes emerged which indicated that both participants felt inadequately prepared by their respective university programs to carryout phonics instruction. Additionally, the lack of fluidity and gap in timing between the phonics coursework and fieldwork proved to be disadvantageous to the teacher candidates’ ability to retain knowledge of phonics instruction. Finally, the participants’ responses shed light on the necessity of having preservice teachers engage in hands-on experiences in order to deepen their understanding and improve their ability to conduct phonics instruction. Conclusion: These findings identify the need for change in teacher preparation programs in order to better prepare preservice teachers for high-quality phonics instruction in the elementary classroom setting.