Conceptualising work-integrated learning: Supporting pre-service teachers’ capacity for pedagogic reasoning

Keywords: pedagogic reasoning; pre-service teacher; teacher education; teaching practice, work-integrated learning; knower; gaze; Legitimation Code Theory


To enable pre-service teachers to develop more specialised teaching practices, work-integrated learning (WIL) sessions need to provide student teachers with more than opportunities to accumulate time in school-based placements and mimic prevalent practices. Research about WIL in South Africa shows that there is a stronger focus on student teachers’ experiences and perceptions than about the substantive practices that they engage in. Research also shows that there many tensions as around the conceptualisation of WIL and its contribution to a process of ‘learning to teach’. Some teaching programmes focus strongly on the personal identity of the student teacher and minimise their socialisation into a knowledge-based practice. Some focus primarily on the uniqueness of the teaching context and less on the essence of pedagogy, while some emphasise learning by reflection on experience rather than reflection on principled knowledge. We argue that to build cumulative knowledge in the field of learning to teach, we need consider these tensions and bring them into dialogue with each other. In this paper, we draw on concepts from Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) to consider how three tensions in conceptualising WIL support or constrain students’ capacity to make appropriate choices in their developing classroom practices. We suggest that approaches to WIL that develop students’ specialised gaze on practice enables them to recognise and enact pedagogic reasoning in their developing teaching practices. We argue that this approach provides a good way forward to conceptualise WIL as a process of learning to teach and support cumulative learning in teacher education.

Author Biographies

Lee Rusznyak, University of the Witwatersrand

Deputy Head of School: Teacher Education,  School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand

Carol Bertram, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Associate professor, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal