Pedagogical Tact in mentoring of professional school internships

  • Angela Gastager University College Professor at the University College of Teacher Education Styria, Austria
  • Anna Nebel Scientific staff member at the University of Teacher Education, Styria and at the University of Salzburg, Austria
  • Viktoria Präauer
  • Jean-Luc Patry
  • Barbara Fageth
Keywords: theory practice transfer, mentoring, internships, mixed methods, reflective teaching


Pedagogical tact, the “translator” from theory to practice, is a complex construct. A theory of tact has been developed and is tested through comparison of novice and expert teachers. One may assume that experienced practitioners are tactful if they are committed. Preservice teachers may be assumed to be less tactful than experienced teachers for two reasons: (a) they are not used to teaching and applying theoretical concepts in their internships, and (b) they stick “closer” to the knowledge about theories since they are still study­ing. Billett and Smith (2014) proposed that in professional practice an interactive enactment of knowledge is crucial. Qualitative differences between novices and experts were reported by Berliner (e.g. 2001). In a pilot study conducted in January of 2016 at a new lower secondary school in Austria five senior preservice teachers and three mentors were investigated. The preservice teachers and the mentors (expert teachers) were assessed independently for one lesson with stimulated recall. The results were coded along crucial categories in tact situations. Direct comparisons of experts and novices from the same field according to the coding system were interpreted as indicators of the validity of the assessment tool to measure tact. To make sure that there is indeed a difference in the experts’ and novices’ actions, the lesson interruption method (LIM; Patry, 1997b) was used to check tact relevant dimensions. First results showed a statistically significant association between the level of excitement, the level of fun and the level of notice of the surroundings during the learning process due to the estimations in the LIM of the participating pupils.