Community-Based Placements As Contexts for Disciplinary Learning: A Study of Literacy Teacher Education Outside of School

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Community-based field placements have shown promise as a strategy for preparing teacher candidates to work in diverse, high-needs schools, but they have rarely been designed or researched with subject-area methods learning in mind. Drawing on data from observations, interviews, documents, and journals, the author investigated how placements in two case study community-based organizations (CBOs) shaped candidates' learning about literacy and literacy pedagogy. Using cultural historical activity theory as an analytic framework, the author found that contextual components in CBO activity systems guided teacher candidates to take up more complex theories of literacy, demonstrate unusual proficiency in engaging language-minority students in text-based conversations (a critical strategy for promoting reading and language development), and leverage teacher-student-family relationships in ways that enhanced pupils' literacy engagement and learning experiences. Findings highlight implications (related to literacy and other skill/subject areas) for prospective pupil learning, course-based mediation of community-based fieldwork, and placement site selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Teacher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Research is funded in part by the Ford Foundation.

FundersFunder number
Ford Foundation


    • field experiences
    • learning environment
    • literacy/reading teacher education
    • partnerships
    • urban teacher education


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