A Decade of Evolution in the Practice Teaching Component of a Canadian Teacher Education Program: What Drove Change, What Insights Were Gleaned, and What Challenges Lie Ahead.


  • Fiona Benson McGill University
  • Kate Hooton McGill University


Practice teaching, teacher education, program design, field experience, policy, change


This paper explores the many and diverse factors that have driven changes to the field-based component of a program of teacher education in a large Canadian university over the past 10 years.  We look at key contexts of influence to any work in program change; that of internal and external bodies at the institutional level, the operational or program delivery level, feedback from stakeholders in teacher education, and lastly, the research and scholarship in teacher education that provides a framework for innovation and improvement.   A significant inclusion in this paper is the perspective on the support, at ground level, that is required but rarely acknowledged, to move any change initiatives forward.  We present models that capture a decade of change to 4 undergraduate field experiences and 2 graduate level internships that comprise the field component of our teacher education program.  We share key indicators of success resulting from these changes, highlight important insights gleaned, and point to pressing challenges that we face as we look to future program evolution that will carry us into the next decade.  While this work reflects one single field-based component of a teacher education program in Canada – we trust that useful parallels can be drawn by the reader as they contemplate or are in the process of addressing and moving through similar orbits of change and evolution within their own programs.

Author Biographies

Fiona Benson, McGill University

Fiona J Benson is the Director of the Office of Student Teaching at McGillΓÇÖs Faculty of Education and Director of the MA in Teaching and Learning. She is responsible for the development, coordination, facilitation, monitoring and evaluation of undergraduate field placements and graduate field internships. Another area of responsibility is the sustaining and evolving of critical partnerships in the field. Fiona is a member of the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her areas of teaching and research include teacher education, teacher wellbeing, professional development, and social justice education. She has a BFA degree in Language and Literature from Ottawa University and a Diploma from the London Academy of Dramatic Arts. She also holds a B.Ed. in Secondary Literature and Drama from McGill as well as a Masters in Curriculum Design and a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from McGill.

Kate Hooton, McGill University

Kate Hooton is the Administrator of the Office of Student Teaching at McGill University. She oversees the implementation and management of student teaching field placements at the undergraduate and graduate levels, supports policy development and works closely with schools and students. A graduate of McGill with a BA in Linguistics, she is furthering her research interest in higher education administration with studies at the École Nationale d’Administration Publique.