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Partnership in the Third Space: Creating a new learning arena in Icelandic preschool teacher education

Partnership in the Third Space: Creating a new learning arena in Icelandic preschool teacher education

Title: Partnership in the Third Space: Creating a new learning arena in Icelandic preschool teacher education
Author: Mörk, Svava Björg
Advisor: Kari Smith
Date: 2022-01
Language: English
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Menntavísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Education (UI)
Department: Deild kennslu- og menntunarfræði (HÍ)
Faculty of Education and Pedagogy (UI)
ISBN: 978-9935-9625-2-2
Subject: Third space, mentoring, theory and practice, preschool teacher education; Leikskólafræði; Leikskólakennarar; Doktorsritgerðir
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/2846

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The project is an empirical qualitative research that aims to explore the concept of the “third space” as a collaborative learning arena with partners in Icelandic preschool teacher education. The explicit focus is preschool teacher education, specifically the connection between theory and practice during field practice and how the third space can be used to link theory and practice. The overall research question is: “How can ‘the Third Space’ become a meaningful learning arena in Icelandic teacher education?” Thus, emphasis was on the issues of importance in developing the third space—that is, partnership in preschool teacher education, preschool student teachers’ learning during their field practice, and communication and division of labor among actors. To achieve this goal, four studies were conducted, presented in four articles: Article I, Historical perspective of the third space in Icelandic preschool teacher education; Article II, University-preschool collaboration in preschool student teacher education in Iceland; Article III, Between a rock and a hard place: The importance of education and professional development of preschool student teachers in field practice; and Article IV, During the field practice, their professionalism increases: Collaboration in the practicum. The contribution of the project is threefold. First, the project is intended to contribute to the theoretical knowledge regarding third space and partnership in preschool teacher education, an issue that has not been at the forefront in preschool teacher education studies. Second, as the context of the project is Iceland, it contributes to the Icelandic and international discourse on preschool teacher education and policy. The dissertation explores partnership in preschool teacher education and how stakeholders perceive the collaboration. The four studies contribute to knowledge about the university-preschool partnership and how it affects student teachers’ learning. Third, the intention of the project is to contribute to professionalism in preschool teacher education. Sociocultural constructivism is the epistemological framework for this project. In cultural and social contexts, by interacting, asking questions, and discussing issues with each other, individuals construct meanings of situations (Creswell, 2009; Crotty, 1998; Edwards, 2005). The project is framed by Engeström’s theory of expansive learning (2015) and theory about the third space (Bhabha, 1990; Zeichner, 2010) and partnership (Halvorsen, 2014; Smith, 2016). The methodology is qualitative research (Creswell & Poth, 2018) using triangulated data collection. To get an in-depth understanding of the issue and to ensure triangulation, data were collected from different sources, in three different ways using multiple theories in data analysis (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). The findings from the four studies provide an answer to the overall question” “How can ‘the Third Space’ become a meaningful learning arena in preschool teacher education?” The findings indicate that true partnership in the preschool teacher education in Iceland is scarce, and that the partnership is more separated than collaborative. The main findings show that participants found it important to build good partnerships, involve more stakeholders, and strengthen the collaboration between the field and the universities, with the overall goal of ensuring professionalism in the early childhood sector. They saw this as an important factor in creating a shared learning platform that held innovation, vitality, and flexibility—all fundamental steps to forming true partnership. Participants also discussed that lack of communication and discussions seemed to hinder the collaboration and decreases opportunities to develop true partnership.

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