Liaison staff in pre-service teacher education programs

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 33 : Reshaping Higher Education

July, 2010, 654 pages
Published by
M. Devlin, J. Nagy and A. Lichtenberg
0 908557 80 9

University courses that are designed to produce work-ready professionals rely on quality fieldwork education to prepare graduates for the challenges of professional practice. Effective communication between universities and their industry partners is needed to negotiate expectations of roles, assessment practices, strategies and goals of fieldwork education programs to ensure optimal learning outcomes for students. Liaison staff are engaged in some pre-service teacher education programs to bridge the gap between the worlds of university academics and workplace supervisors, to trouble-shoot, to act as ‘go- betweens’ and to problem-solve to support student learning. This paper examines the experiences of liaison staff in three pre-service education programs in an Australian university. The findings of this study suggest that liaison staff can make a significant and timely contribution to the quality of fieldwork education and student learning outcomes, particularly through their ability to enhance effective communication between students, associate teachers and university academics. However, in their own eyes, inconsistencies in induction, training and professional recognition of liaison staff and feedback about their own performance diminished their ability to perform their role. Greater attention to the induction and professional development of liaison staff can make better use of these people who are a valuable and sometimes under-utilised resource.

Keywords: liaison staff, pre-service teacher education, fieldwork education