Becoming professionally qualified: The school-based mentoring experiences of parttime PGCE students
This paper reports on a study which explored the mentoring experiences of professionally unqualified practicing teachers enrolled in a part-time Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The study sought to understand the mentoring experiences these students received from their teacher mentors, who were also their colleagues. Data was collected through interviews towards the end of their programme. Drawing on the concept of teacher knowledge, findings indicate that some students experienced subject-specific mentoring, others received only feedback on generic pedagogic issues, and some received minimal mentoring. They reported content-specific and pedagogical mentoring as the most useful, indicating that this significantly assisted them in improving their teaching, even though they had been teaching for some time. It also emerged that some students received very limited mentoring, where mentors simply complied to fulfil university assessment requirements. The study suggests a need for more focused, comprehensive and ongoing mentor training for mentor teachers. The success of this would require collaboration between all stakeholders involved in departments of education and universities. This paper further suggests that university-school partnerships required strengthening, along with appropriate strategies put in place, towards ensuring mentoring effectiveness.
Keywords: emerging economy; mentoring; PGCE; professionally unqualified practicing teachers; school-based learning; teacher knowledge