Examining Preservice Teachers' Reasoning and Decision Making in Three Case-Based Approaches
The general purpose of this dissertation was to compare three general approaches (worked examples, faded worked examples, and case-based reasoning) to using cases to help preservice teachers advance in complex decision making or problem solving skills. Each approach has empirical studies demonstrating that it can lead to student learning (Jonassen, 1999). However, case-based reasoning and the other two approaches emerged from different traditions that imply different principles for the design of learning environments. Furthermore, no study has yet compared these approaches in terms of their relative effectiveness in improving preservice teachers' reasoning and decision making related to teaching issues, including classroom management. To that end, this dissertation was aimed at comparing the impact of these three case-based approaches on preservice teachers' reasoning and decision making related to classroom management. This dissertation is presented in nontraditional dissertation format as approved by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Iowa State University. It involves three publishable journal articles that would represent Chapter 2, 3 and 4 respectively, along with general introduction and conclusion chapters. The first paper presented a review of literature on the use of cases in teacher education to examine and foster preservice teachers' reasoning and decision making. Comparative examination of the 20 studies in terms of their theoretical and methodological implications for the use of cases to examine or enhance preservice teachers' reasoning and decision making revealed that (a) Students need considerable instructional guidance to effectively use cases and to develop the cognitive and motivational skills to process cases effectively, (b) Changing student conceptions/beliefs about effective teaching and decision-making is a developmental process that occurs over considerable time, and (c) If cases are to be integrated into a teacher education program effectively, their use probably needs to be integrated across multiple experiences within courses and across the sequence of courses in the program. The second paper presented a study which compared the impact of three types of case-based methods (worked example, faded worked example, and case-based reasoning) on preservice teachers' (n=71) learning and decision making about classroom management. In addition to pre-post performance data, a set of individual difference variables and decision-related measures were used to examine the relative impact of each case method on students' interaction with decision tasks and whether decision related measures were associated with the differences in student characteristics. The pre-posttests results did not show a pattern of increased correct performance on the posttest. Additionally, students' interaction with decision tasks did not change as a function of treatment. Furthermore, the relationships between individual differences and decision-related measures were consistent with the existing literature. Overall, the results suggested that students had some established beliefs about classroom management and this short terms intervention was not successful on changing their beliefs or prior conceptions. Finally, the third paper presented a study which focused on analyzing students' open ended responses to classroom management problems presented before, during, and after instruction using one of these methods. The treatment groups did not differ significantly on the number of the alternatives they created and selected in decision tasks or the number of reasons students used to justify their decisions. However, the worked example group, compared to the case-based reasoning and faded worked example groups, consistently performed better on analyzing cases and solving problem cases related to classroom management. Additionally, in each group, the majority of the classroom management strategies generated on all three assessments focused on suppressing inappropriate behavior, rather than promoting appropriate behavior or helping students develop self-regulation.