What and how student teachers learn during their practicum as a foundation for further professional development
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This study investigates how work placement contributes to the integration of practical skills and theoretical knowledge in teacher education. The lack of connection has commonly been criticised in teacher education as well as in other professional studies. The aim of the study is to gain a deeper understanding of how practicum interacts with the university coursework to enhance professional competencies among student teachers. The context is three different Norwegian teacher education programmes that prepare for secondary school. In focus groups the students describe the placement context and the differences between learning on campus and in the practice field. Furthermore, they explain the outcome of field experiences. The findings show that the learning in practicum should not be taken for granted. The students experience great differences between workplaces related to attitudes, support, facilities, mentoring and possibilities to learn from experiences. Practicum should be recognised as an important part of student teachers’ education. It should not be left to chance, but have a binding framework related to the quality of mentoring and the working conditions student teachers are offered.