n South African Journal of Higher Education - Mentoring conversations in the professional preparation of teachers

Volume 27, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article reports on a study that focused on the ways in which the quality of teacher education may be enhanced by mentoring, specifically conversational strategies used by lecturer mentors and the expected and actual impact on student teachers' learning. The notion of knowledge productivity in mentoring conversation was highlighted to emphasise the importance of mentoring in the professional preparation of teachers. Using a comparative case design, 12 conversations between a student teacher and his/her mentor were video-recorded and analysed with regard to mentors' conversational moves to help students attain learning goals. This was compared with student teachers' perceived knowledge productivity as measured in terms of stated intentions to change practices. An instrument was developed to code the mentor's conversational moves. The findings of the study suggest that: (1) the mentor's approach during conversation differed, signifying how different strategies relate to the attainment of learning goals; (2) conversational moves did not significantly influence the student teacher's perceived knowledge productivity. We noted two dominant moves: a scaffolding and prescriptive one, and an exploring one; and (3) student teachers who have a closer relationship involving regular interaction with a mentor, benefited in terms of higher knowledge productivity. Although the findings indicate an overall positive effect of mentors' conversational moves on student teachers' learning outcomes, almost 60 per cent of the conversational talk was non-learning goals related, as opposed to relational talk. No direct relation was found between specific mentor conversational moves and perceived knowledge productivity.

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