Alberta Teachers' Association logo in colour, all one line.


Purpose of Field Experience

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Purpose of Field Experience Within the Profession

In Alberta, field experiences are a required component of the teacher preparation programs leading to initial teacher certification. Field experiences also provide opportunities for preservice teachers to integrate theoretical knowledge with teaching practice, gain insight while assuming emerging responsibility for teaching, better assess their aptitude for teaching and finally take flight towards becoming effective certificated teachers.

When fears are grounded, dreams take flight.


Field Experience Definition

Field experience refers to a combined minimum of one semester or equivalent period of not less than 13 weeks of full-time, classroom-based experience as part of the requirement for initial teacher certification. It has the status of a regular credit course toward the bachelor of education degree.

What the Association Believes About Field Experiences

Teacher education programs in Alberta universities and the Alberta Teachers’ Association jointly acknowledge that field experiences are key processes in teacher education, which require for their success a close collaborative relationship between the teaching profession and preservice teacher education programs. Field experiences create conditions that recognize and promote teaching as a reflective and collegial practice. Teacher education programs in Alberta universities and the Alberta Teachers’ Association are committed to field experiences that develop the student teacher’s reflective capacities for observation, analysis, interpretation and decision making as well as the competencies required for effective teaching and learning.

Opportunities: What Do Field Experiences Provide?

The Association believes that field experiences provide opportunities for

  1. inquiry into teaching and an orientation and socialization to the teaching profession;
  2. prospective teachers to consider how students learn and why, their own teaching strategies, and the social and cultural milieu that influences learning and teaching within schools; and
  3. a forum for preservice teacher education program faculty, professional teachers and preservice teachers to engage in meaningful discourse regarding competing ideas, approaches and pedagogical strategies that inform teaching.
Sharing Commitment With Teacher Education Programs in Alberta Universities

Teacher education programs in Alberta universities and the teaching profession share in the commitment to foster these opportunities. The field experience program will continue to be a matter of ongoing examination, refinement, enrichment and improvement involving preservice teacher education programs, the Association, the Department of Education and other relevant government departments as well as partner groups.

Required Basic Features of an Effective Field Experience
  1. a graduated set of classroom-based field experiences extended throughout the teacher preparation program;
  2. appropriate orientation of the student teacher to the school, the system and the profession;
  3. procedures that will provide for effective evaluation of student teachers during each phase of the field experience program;
  4. an opportunity for field experience in both rural and urban settings;
  5. formative and summative evaluation consistent with Association policy;
  6. each field experience connected to a specific on-campus course;
  7. participation by the Alberta Teachers’ Association in the resolution of professional conduct disputes related to field experience programs in schools;
  8. an appeal procedure for student teachers who are unsuccessful in their field experiences and a remediation plan, developed by the teacher preparation program and provided to the cooperating teacher, for those students who must repeat a practicum;
  9. evaluation of a student teacher’s performance as a shared responsibility of cooperating teachers and preservice teacher education program personnel, provided that cooperating teachers have the major responsibility for final evaluation; and
  10. safeguards to ensure that the field experience is not compromised by activities related to teacher recruitment.
    Benefits of a Field Experience Program Within A School
    • Fosters a culture of collaboration and professional learning among schools, jurisdictions and teacher education programs
    • Positively impacts the efficacy and teaching of both the student teacher and the cooperating teacher
    • Builds teacher leadership capacity
    • Promotes and develops innovative teaching practice
    • Is responsive to learner needs
    • Increases retention of skilled teachers