n Education as Change - Learning through fieldwork : undergraduate research and teacher education in South Africa

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In this paper we offer fieldwork as an opportunity to move away from the more procedural and routine tasks of the teaching practicum to the more desirable focus on teaching as research and an inquiry-oriented practice (Hussein, 2006; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Zeichner & Teitelbaum, 1982). Moore (2003:31) points out that fieldwork "holds great potential for ... reflective practice", and we feel that it offers prospective teachers opportunities to think about learning, about how learners learn, and about what is most useful to them. Through empirical research practices of fieldwork, prospective teachers can construct their own understandings about teaching in complex contexts. They can also develop their competencies towards becoming 'scholars, researchers and lifelong learners'. Fieldwork has a long history as a form of social science research. At a very basic level, it involves long-term observations of an area of study, interviews with people involved, and narrative data collection in the form of field notes and interview transcripts. Fieldwork as a qualitative methodology has influenced sociology, anthropology, history, economics, documentary film-making, photography, and many other areas of study. It can also be a powerful research tool for those entering the teaching profession.


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