The influence of social contingencies on teacher education students undertaking a rural internship

Brian Hemmings, Russell Kay, Ronald Kerr

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Abstract

Hughes (1999) categorised non-work demands such as domestic responsibilities and health of family members (including self) as social contingencies. A literature review on social contingencies, examined from a medical, nursing, and allied health standpoint, revealed that certain factors, especially related to financial matters, impact directly on the professional experience or deter potential students from electing to participate in a rural-based experience. This review was then extended to include teacher education research but it was found that these studies were small in number, somewhat dated, and lacking a strong focus on what stressors arise beyond the classroom and the school for teacher trainees. The present study was planned to reduce existing gaps in the research literature and to better understand the effects of the professional experience in different residential settings by seeking to: 1. examine the predictive capacity of stress in relation to the perceived impact of social contingencies on internship learning; 2. identify factors which distinguish between those students who lived away and stayed at their usual term residence while undertaking an internship; and, 3. explore in greater detail the social contingencies, and other related factors, that influence learning during an internship. The sample consisted of 84 teacher education students attending an Australian regional university. These students were enrolled in the final semester of a four-year course and had just completed a 10-week internship in a rural or remote setting. A survey was the sole means of data collection.The survey data were analysed and the main findings were: financial pressure was viewed by the teacher trainees as the most prominent contingency impacting on their learning; the same trainees rated internet and phone access as the next two most important factors; and, two scales, labelled as personal/health care and life organisation were shown to be the only significant independent variables helping to distinguish between teacher trainees who lived away and those who stayed at their usual term residence during the internship. The implications of the study for course managers, course designers, rural educators, and policy makers conclude the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-110
Number of pages16
JournalEducation in Rural Australia
Volume21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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