Evaluation of the testing of the practical semester in the teacher training program (PraxisEVALUATION)

By resolution of the Hessian Parliament on March 21, 2013, a new practice model was introduced in the first phase of university teacher training for some of the Hessian student teachers at the universities of Kassel, Frankfurt and Giessen. At the University of Kassel, the trial of the so-called practical semester affects all students studying to become primary, ,lower secondary and intermediate secondary school  from the start of the 2014/15winter semester.

In order to assess the quality of the practical semester and its effects on teacher training, the state government has commissioned an evaluation contract for the practical semester leading universities . The evaluation contract is being carried out in cooperation with the universities of Frankfurt and Giessen.

The evaluation will include the teacher training students of the primary school as well as the lower secondary school and intermediate secondary school who began their studies in the winter semester 2014/15. Furthermore, students in the Gymnasium teaching program who do not complete the practical semester are also surveyed. Since the practical semester is being tested in different teacher training programs at the participating universities, this enables an inter-university comparison of the new model in one teacher training program with the old model at another university possible (e.g., a comparison of the Gymnasium teacher training program in Frankfurt with an introduced practical semester and the Gymnasium teacher training program in Kassel becomes possible).

The basic characteristics that are evaluated at all three universities with the support of all involved stakeholders (student teachers, universities, schools) are initial/framework conditions under which the internship takes place, processes that take place within the internship, and (effects of) the internship on the aptitude test and the students' competence development.

The study of initial/framework conditions focuses on the structures and resources of universities and schools, as well as on the teaching-learning prerequisites of student teachers. This includes the students' expectations, their goals for the internship semester, their prior experiences, and much more. The surveys at the process level focus on the implementation of the internship semester. Here, the focus is primarily on job shadowing, initial teaching attempts, insights into teaching, parallel supervision by university lecturers and the support provided by the teaching staff at the schools from the point of view of all those involved. On the student side, the motivational-affective experience and the handling of experiences in the internship are also examined.

When considering the (training)effects, the focus should lay on developmental processes in and through the practical semester. For the students, this consists of both the experienced consolidation and correctness of their own choice of study as well as their own competence development towards becoming a professional teacher. In addition, determinants should be identified that are helpful for a successful internship semester.