Relections from an 'Australian' perspective

Roslin Brennan Kemmis, Sharon Ahern

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


There is a long history of discussion and debate about the 'practicum'. The word practicum is derived from a Latin adjective~ practicus- that means 'active'. By definition, the term needs a noun or an action to qualify. It does not stand-alone grammatically. In current usage, the practicum is seen to be an experience that is practical and it is sometimes cast as being necessarily distinct from theory. It is usually a supervised activity where a novice is placed in the workplace and mentored through a set of experiences that will hopefully equip them to enter the profession. The practicum is generally assessed. The practicum is the overt and tangible expression of practice. However as Mattsson, Eilertsen and Ronison (2011, Ch.l) maintain: 'practice' is a controversial phenomenon that is characterised by different traditions, processes and agents, situated in different contexts, fonning practice in different ways. Given this diversity, the exploration of the practicum contained in this volume exposes the similarities and differences in the issues, debates and concerns across national boundaries. The practicum has traditionally been, and continues to be, an integral part of any teacher education program. As we can see from the chapters of this volume, practicum has a variety of forms, and the term we use to describe the practicum varies (Ronison, 2011 ). The design, the model and the assessment practices Vary between countries, states, cities and in some cases university campuses. At one end of the definitional spectrum, the focus of the practicum is on translating theory into practice in a real world situation. It is seen as the opportunity to interweave the threads of theory and practice in a symbiotic way. At the other end of the spectrum, theory and practice are cast in a dualistic relationship - either 'theory' or 'practice'. This dualism thrives in a context where different professional cultures characterise the site of theoretical learning (the university) and the site of the practical learning (the school) and where there are few opportunities for professional conversation between inhabitants of the two sites.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA practicum turn in teacher education
EditorsMatts Mattsson, Doreen Rorrison, Tor Vidar Eilertsen
Place of PublicationRotterdam, The Netherlands
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789460917110
ISBN (Print)9789460917097, 9789460917783
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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