oa The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning - Mentorship challenges in the teaching practice of distance learning students
Effective mentoring is pivotal to the development of student teachers. In this study, the researcher focused on the experiences of the University of South Africa (Unisa) distance education students who are enrolled for the Bachelor of Education qualification, who are in their fourth year of study, and who have already completed three cycles of teaching practice. This study evaluates mentoring practices using a five-factor mentoring model as a theoretical framework. Quantitative data were collected and supported by additional information provided by open-ended questions. The findings indicate inter alia that student teachers need to be placed at schools that will provide constructive learning environments and that more training should be provided to mentoring teachers. Mentors need to provide student teachers with emotional support and opportunities to develop their own identities as teachers, and to create challenging and complex environments in which to learn. Partnerships between schools and the university need to be improved. There should be greater clarity on the who, what and how of mentoring during teaching practice in order to increase the quality and quantity of mentoring for enhancing student teachers' practices. The findings of this study may have implications for other programmes that use work-integrated learning (WIL), beyond teacher education in a distance learning environment.
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