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19 July 2010
Deakin University and the University of Ballarat are collaborating to find ways to better entice and retain teachers in rural areas.
The project aims to improve rural workplace learning experiences for teacher education students in the hope that they will return and take up ongoing jobs.
Case studies will be conducted at Hamilton, Horsham, Maryborough, Portland and the Mallee region as part of the 12-month project that has been funded by the University of Ballarat and Deakin University Collaboration Fund and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
The project is being undertaken by School of Education Senior Lecturer at Deakin University’s Warrnambool Campus Dr Bernadette Walker-Gibbs; Director of Professional Experience, School of Education, Deakin University Associate Professor Simone White; and Associate Professor Maxine Cooper and Dr Michelle Ortlipp from the University of Ballarat’s School of Education
Dr Walker-Gibbs said the focus was on educating teacher graduates to be ready to work in rural communities.
She said the project would seek to better facilitate Work Integrated Learning in rural areas where access, isolation, attraction and retention were increasing issues. “The project aims to explore how teacher education can build and better support rural and regional pre-service teachers through community based Work Integrated Learning experiences.”
Dr Walker-Gibbs said there was a need for universities and education authorities to better prepare for a national crisis in attracting and retaining professionals to rural areas. “A systemic approach which focuses on recruiting professionals for rural and remote communities is desperately needed,” she said.
“It is an age-old problem and we hope to address how teacher education courses and local communities can better support teacher students when they are undertaking professional experience placements in rural areas.
“Some student teachers aren’t necessarily prepared for working in a small rural community, including coping with the lack of access to resources and the high visibility that their position might attract. It is hoped this project can find ways in which universities, schools, councils and other community groups can collaborate to improve professional experiences.”
The project will culminate early next year with a report to both universities and seminars to discuss the findings.
Dr Walker-Gibbs said it was an exciting project to bring together four researchers who previously worked separately in rural teacher education. “Both universities have a focus on rural and regional education so it is a great match for us to work together,” she added.
Deakin Media Relations
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