e-ISSN 2231-8542
ISSN 1511-3701

Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 32 (1) Mar. 2024 / JSSH-8735-2022


Theory-Practice Divide: Pre-service Teachers’ Application of Pedagogical Knowledge During Teaching Practicum

Renuka V. Sathasivam, Mohd Nor Syahrir Abdullah and Rose Amnah Abd Rauf

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 32, Issue 1, March 2024


Keywords: Pre-service teachers, pedagogical knowledge, teaching practicum, theory-practice divide

Published on: 19 March 2024

Good teacher education programmes ensure good resonance between the pedagogical knowledge learned at the university and the teaching practical. However, the literature shows a significant gap between these two elements. This theory-practice divide can dishearten and potentially jeopardise pre-service teachers’ ability to remain in the field. This study investigated pre-service teachers’ experiences applying pedagogical knowledge learned at the university to their teaching practicum. The research aims to answer two research questions: (i) what pedagogical knowledge learned at the university was useful or inadequate during teaching practicum, and (ii) what suggestions do they have to reduce the theory-practice divide? An exploratory qualitative research design was employed. The sample consisted of seven pre-service teachers who had recently completed their teaching practicum. The main data sources were an open-ended questionnaire and online interview sessions. Data analysis used a constant comparative method to look for emerging themes. Two themes emerged regarding the first research question: (i) Useful Pedagogical Knowledge and (ii) Inadequate Pedagogical Knowledge. For the former, three categories identified were (i) general teaching methods, (ii) research-based teaching findings, and (iii) sharing of teaching experiences and modelling by lecturers. In the latter, four categories coded were (i) classroom management, (ii) online classes, (iii) completing official forms and (iv) comprehensive lesson plan. Accordingly, the pre-service teachers provided three suggestions to improve these adequacies. The study’s implications indicate meta-conversations among stakeholders for more holistic programmes and as starting grounds for curriculum reviews.

  • Abas, M. C. (2016). Difficulties in field-based observation among pre-service teachers: Implications to practice teaching. International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, 5(2), 101-112.

  • Allen, J. M., & Wright, S. E. (2014). Integrating theory and practice in the pre-service teacher education practicum. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 20(2), 136-151.

  • Andreasen, J. K., Bjørndal, C. R. P., & Kovač, V. B. (2019). Being a teacher and teacher educator: The antecedents of teacher educator identity among mentor teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 85, 281-291.

  • Atay, D. (2008). Teacher research for professional development. ELT Journal, 62(2), 139–147.

  • Bainbridge, A. (2011). Beginning teaching: The theory/practice divide. Cliopsy, 6(2), 25–32.

  • Beck, C., & Kosnik, C. (2002). Professors and the practicum involvement of university faculty in pre-service practicum supervision. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 6-19.

  • Buchanan, R. (2017). “It’s not about that anymore”: An ecological examination of the theory-practice divide in contemporary teacher education [Doctoral dissertation, University of California]. ProQuest LLC.

  • Buchanan, R. (2020). An ecological framework for supervision in teacher education. Journal of Educational Supervision, 3(1), 76–94.

  • Buchanan, R., & Olsen, B. (2018). Teacher identity in the current teacher education landscape. In P. Schutz, J. Hong, & D. Cross Francis (Eds.), Research on teacher identity (pp. 195–205). Springer.

  • Clift, R. T., & Brady, P. (2009). Research on methods courses and field experiences. In M. Cochran-Smith & K. M. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (p. 816). Routledge.

  • Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1999). Chapter 8: Relationships of knowledge and practice: Teacher learning in communities. Review of Research in Education, 24(1), 249–305.

  • Cohen, E., Hoz, R., & Kaplan, H. (2013). The practicum in pre-service teacher education: A review of empirical studies. Teaching Education, 24(4), 345–380.

  • Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3-21.

  • Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approach. SAGE Publications.

  • Darling-Hammond, L., Flook, L., Cook-Harvey, C., Barron, B., & Osher, D. (2020). Implications for educational practice of the science of learning and development. Applied Developmental Science, 24(2), 97–140.

  • El Masry, T., & Mohd Saad, M. R. (2017). Complexities and tensions ESL Malaysian student teachers face during their field practice. English Teacher, 46(1), 1-16.

  • Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). From preparation to practice: Designing a continuum to strengthen and sustain teaching. Teachers College Record, 103(6), 1013 -1055.

  • Flessner, R. (2012). Addressing the research/practice divide in teacher education. Action in Teacher Education, 34(2), 159-171.

  • Goh, P. S. C., & Canrinus, E. T. (2019). Pre-service teachers’ perception of program coherence and its relationship to their teaching efficacy. Pertanika Journal of Social Science & Humanities, 27(T2), 27–45.

  • Guise, M. (2013). Forming university and teacher partnerships in an effort to reframe and rethink mentoring programs. English Journal, 102(3), 65-70.

  • Haritos, C. (2004). Understanding teaching through the minds of teacher candidates: A curious blend of realism and idealism. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(6), 637–654.

  • Holton, E. F., Bates, R. A., Seyler, D. L., & Carvalho, M. B. (1997). Toward construct validation of a transfer climate instrument. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 8(2), 95-113.

  • Honan, E. (2007). Teachers engaging in research as professional development. In T. Townsend & R. Bates (Eds.) Handbook of Teacher Education (pp. 613–624). Springer.

  • Hume, A., & Berry, A. (2011). Constructing CoRes—a strategy for building PCK in pre-service science teacher education. Research in Science Education, 41(3), 341–355.

  • Jaspers, W. M., Meijer, P. C., Prins, F., & Wubbels, T. (2014). Mentor teachers: Their perceived possibilities and challenges as mentor and teacher. Teaching and Teacher Education, 44(1), 106-116.

  • Johnstone, A. H. (1993). The development of chemistry teaching: A changing response to changing demand. Journal of Chemical Education, 70(9), 701-705.

  • Junker, R., Gold, B., & Holodynski, M. (2021). Classroom management of pre-service and beginning teachers: From dispositions to performance. International Journal of Modern Education Studies, 5(2), 339–363.

  • Kakazu, K., & Kobayashi, M. (2022). Student teachers’ development throught a first-time teaching practicum and challenegs: A qualitative case study approach. Journal of Education for Teaching, 49(3), 401-415.

  • Khan, I., & Nazir, N. (2017). An empirical examination of the effects of personality traits and transfer climate factors on transfer of training & motivation: A longitudinal study. Studies in Business and Economics, 12(3), 92-111.

  • Komolafe, B. F., Ogunniran, M. O., Zhang, F. Y., & Qian, X. S. (2020). A comparative perspective of teaching skill acquisition in pre-service physics teacher (PSPT) training program in China and Nigeria. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 19(3), 356–373.

  • Lampert, M., & Ball, D. L. (1998). Teaching, multimedia, and mathematics: Investigations of real practice. Teachers College Press.

  • Li, P. B., Sani, B. B., & Azmin, N. A. B. M. (2021). Identifying mentor teachers roles and perceptions in pre-service teachers teaching practicum: The use of a mentoring model. International Journal of Education and Practice, 9(2), 365–378.

  • Lim, W., Son, J. W., & Kim, D. J. (2018). Understanding pre-service teacher skills to construct lesson plans. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 16(3), 519-538.

  • Lynch, D., & Smith, R. (2012). Teacher education partnerships: An Australian research-based perspective. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online), 37(11), 137–151.

  • Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2015). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. John Wiley & Sons.

  • Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. SAGE Publications.

  • Mutlu, G. (2015). Challenges in practicum: Two sides of the coin. International Journal of Learning and Teaching, 7(1), 38–48.

  • O’Dea, J. A., & Peralta, L. R. (2011). Perceptions of the teaching practicum among Human Movement and Health Education pre-service teachers in Australia: The role of university coursework, university-school partnerships and e-learning. Waikato Journal of Education, 16(1), 77-92.

  • Olsen, B., & Buchanan, R. (2017). “Everyone wants you to do everything”: Investigating the professional identity development of teacher educators. Teacher Education Quarterly, 44(1), 9-34.

  • Patton, M. Q. (2002). Two decades of developments in qualitative inquiry: A personal, experiential perspective. Qualitative Social Work, 1(3), 261–283.

  • Petre, G. E., Jalba, C. M., Sasu, M. R., & Visan, D. (2022). Teaching practicum: An interplay between ideal and real in pre-service teacher’s training. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 15(2). 198-208.

  • Safari, P., & Rashidi, N. (2015). Teacher education beyond transmission: Challenges and opportunities for Iranian teachers of English. Issues in Educational Research, 25(2), 187-203.

  • Sieberer-Nagler, K. (2015). Effective classroom-management & positive teaching. English Language Teaching, 9(1), 163-172.

  • Simon, M., Chitpin, S., & Yahya, R. (2010). Pre-service teachers’ thinking about student assessment issues. International Journal of Education, 2(2), 1-20.

  • Snoek, M., & Volman, M. (2014). The impact of the organisational transfer climate on the use of teacher leadership competences developed in a post-initial Master’s program. Teaching and Teacher Education, 37, 91-100.

  • Takaoglu, Z. B. (2017). Challenges faced by pre-service science teachers during the teaching and learning process in Turkey. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 5(2), 100–110.

  • Toe, D. M., Ure, C., & Blake, D. (2020). Final year pre-service teachers’ views of professional experience in partnership schools. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online), 45(2), 104–127.

  • Tracey, J. B., Tannenbaum, S. I., & Kavanagh, M. J. (1995). Applying trained skills on the job: The importance of the work environment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80(2), 239–252.

  • Ulvik, M., & Smith, K. (2011). What characterises a good practicum in teacher education? Education Inquiry, 2(3), 517–536.

  • Wiseman, D. G., & Hunt, G. H. (2008). Best practice in motivation and management in the classroom (2nd ed.). Thomas Publishing.

  • Xiao, J. (1996). The relationship between organisational factors and the transfer of training in the electronics industry in Shenzhen, China. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 7(1), 55-73.

  • Yamagata-Lynch, L. C., & Smaldino, S. (2007). Using activity theory to evaluate and improve K-12 school and university partnerships. Evaluation and Program Planning, 30(4), 364-380.

  • Yin, J. (2019). Connecting theory and practice in teacher education: English-as-a-foreign-language pre-service teachers’ perceptions of practicum experience. Innovation and Education, 1(1), 1–8.

  • Yuan, R., & Lee, I. (2014). Pre-service teachers’ changing beliefs in the teaching practicum: Three cases in an EFL context. System, 44, 1–12.

ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

Article ID


Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Related Articles