Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education


This research explores the experiences of a group of preservice teachers in the first two years of their experiences in an alternative model of teacher education known as the Knowledge Building Community Project (KBC) at the University of Wollongong in 1999. The KBC Project was initiated as a response to research that suggested preservice teachers needed more experience with the day-to-day operation of schools, and how the daily work of teachers related to the culture of schools and classrooms. The KBC model was based upon the intersection of three sources for learning; (i) Community Learning, (ii) School-based Learning and (iii) Problem-based Learning. The research project uses qualitative methodologies encompassing formal and informal interviews, participant observation and the use of e-mail correspondence over a period of three semesters with the 22 pioneer students of the 1999 KBC Project. The thesis proposes a constructivist grounded theory that emerged as a result of seeking meaning from the students' experiences. It was found that implementing an alternative model for teacher education based on Problem-based Learning was difficult but the data showed that the students involved benefited from the support of the community triad (the KBC facilitators, school-based teachers and each other). The data showed that being members of the community triad enabled students to develop friendship and trust which made working in collaborative school groups advantageous. The students said that the community triad supported their learning. The thesis concludes with a chapter arising from this study that shows that there are key components needed in order to implement a KBC in teacher education. The key feature of the grounded theory highlights the importance of a structure to promote social interaction among the main participants. When students are given the opportunity and support of the community triad, they can develop an ownership and responsibility for their learning. A key trait is the ability of the students to link theory to practice as well as developing an increased understanding about the culture of schools and the way that they operate.

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