A very important stage in pre-service teacher training is the student teaching experience. The university supervisor (US) plays a very important role in this developmental stage by maintaining a connection between the cooperating teacher, student teacher (ST), and the university. One of the major roles of the US is to conduct several formal observations of the ST’s instruction in the school environment. While the traditional method of supervising STs has been found to be effective, several time, distance, and financial constraints have led to the exploration of remote observation utilizing video chat programs (e.g., Skype, FaceTime, etc.) as an alternative to traditional site visits (Kelly & Bishop, 2013). Due to the critical importance of the role of the US in the student teaching experience and the potential of using remote video, the quality of observation in comparison to traditional, face-to-face supervision environments has been called into question. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of STs with regard to traditional vs. remote supervision in terms of logistics, quality of observation, benefits, and challenges.
This qualitative study involved four physical education STs enrolled at a university in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. After receiving each type of observation method (e.g., traditional and remote video), the STs completed the Student Teaching Supervision Method Questionnaire to examine their experiences. In addition, the STs participated in a focus group at the end of their student teaching experience to further investigate their perceptions and experiences with both types of supervision.
Student Teachers’ questionnaire and focus group responses were examined using analytic induction (Huberman & Miles, 1995). Results showed that STs favored traditional over remote video in general, however they would prefer remote video with a PE content expert over traditional visits if the US did not have PE content expertise (i.e., school principal). Technological challenges such as Wi-Fi connectivity, earpiece discomfort, and environmental distraction were noted by student teachers with remote video. Benefits of remote video supervision included increased ability to hear student teachers’ interactions with students, improved feedback potential, and travel time and financial savings.
Results of this study suggest that while traditional on-site observation visits are preferred and ideal, remote video supervision is a viable alternative when technological challenges are appropriately addressed, especially for STs placed out of area.