Building conceptions of teaching: Students’ perceptions expressed through artifacts

Keywords: academic writing, artifacts, conceptions, first year students, multimodal, perceptions, preservice teachers


Teacher education researchers have been grappling with the question of how students perceive teaching, an issue complicated by inadequate schooling conditions.  This paper reports on an intervention used in a campus-based programme at the ANON School of Education that involved first year students producing artifacts which included statues or posters to depict their conceptions of teaching. Students drew on their schooling experiences and foundational knowledge of learning theories to formulate their ideas. Our intention was to provide multimodal opportunities for first year student teachers to articulate their views and ‘perform’ their understanding of teaching through visual and written forms. We wished to explore how students, working in groups, developed the capacity to represent their conceptions as they designed an artifact to depict the role of South African teachers. Interesting findings emerged from our analysis of their outputs, not just about theories of learning like behaviourism and cognitive constructivism that underpin and influence student thinking, but also about the power of representing ideas visually in combination with written reflections. We argue that the exclusive use of traditional written methods of eliciting student teachers’ conceptions of teaching, limit creative and critical possibilities for students to extend and challenge their common-sense assumptions.

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