Preservice Special Education Teachers' Perceptions of What Influences Their Appropriation of University Coursework, Knowledge and Skills During the Clinical Teaching Internship Experience




McElwee, Christine Belser

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The clinical internship experience for preservice interns has been described as one of the most important components of teacher preparation programs. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s (NCATE) Blue Ribbon Panel Report on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning suggests that teacher candidates need to blend practitioner knowledge with academic knowledge and learn their craft by doing. The purpose of this study is to investigate to what extent contextual (i.e., school and classroom setting) and relationship (i.e., cooperating teacher, university supervisor, students) influences of clinical experiences have upon the appropriation of coursework and/or development of decision making strategies by preservice interns at one university. While there is a dearth of research regarding the clinical experience in teacher preparation programs, there are even fewer studies investigating special education interns’ perspectives of their clinical teaching internship experience. A qualitative study of semi-structured interviews with observations and document reviews was implemented to extend the current research base. The researcher investigated six preservice special education interns’ perceptions of their clinical experiences at one teacher preparation program. Results from this investigation suggested that contextual and relationship factors influenced the participants’ decision making during their final clinical experiences. Future programmatic developments of clinical practice in teacher preparation programs were suggested.



Special education, Educational leadership, Clinical internship, Internship, Special education, Special education interns, Special education leadership, Teacher education