This study investigated the role of experienced practitioners in promoting pre-service teachers' knowledge construction and social interaction in an online professional learning community.
A repeated measures design with control and experimental groups was adopted. Two practitioners supported pre-service teachers in the experimental group to discuss issues around teaching practice. Social network analysis (SNA) and content analysis (CA) were used in the analytical approach.
CA revealed that the practitioners increased pre-service teachers' levels of knowledge construction and high-cognitive discourse. SNA showed that the practitioners enhanced pre-service teachers' professional ties. Though collaboration in high-level knowledge building occurred predominantly in peers in the same discipline, the presence of the practitioners facilitated the development of more cross-disciplinary ties in the experimental group.
The practitioners can be considered as a pedagogical tool to enhance pre-service teachers' engagement in the process of professional learning. This study suggests that in order to enhance the collaboration among pre-service teachers from different departments, the online activity should be designed to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration.
The study contributes new knowledge about the ways in which practitioners can enhance the collaboration among pre-service teachers in an online PLC. It also provides insight on how to combine CA and SNA, to examine professional learning.
The first author, Enas Mohammad Alwafi, would like to acknowledge the scholarship from Umm Al-Qura University, Saudi Arabia. The authors would like to thank the participants of this study.
Alwafi, E., Downey, C. and Kinchin, G. (2020), "Promoting pre-service teachers' engagement in an online professional learning community: Support from practitioners", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-10-2019-0027Download as .RIS
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