The application of interpersonal communication and group dynamics skills as a curriculum component for the professional development of pre- service teachers

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Virginia Tech


This study explores the development of teacher professionalism as it is reflected both historically and philosophically in the educational reform movements of the 1830's and 1980's. Within this framework the study argues that interpersonal communication and group dynamics skills training is now a necessary component for the development of professionalism in teacher education programs.

The study reviews the Carnegie (1986), Holmes (1986) and Nation At Risk (1983) reports on education, focusing on the issue of the professionalization of teaching. The study evaluates the potential impact of the notion of "critical democracy" (Giroux and Mclaren, 1986) on the preparation of pre-service teachers in the 1990’s. The study reviews the following elements: (1) the educational reform movement of the 1980's, specifically focusing on the issues of teacher professionalism, collaboration in educational settings, shared decision making, and critical literacy, (2) the historical foundations of teacher education in America, specifically focusing on the development of the First Normal School at Lexington, Massachusetts (1839), and the professionalization of teaching in the reform movement of the 1830's, and (3) the theoretical development and the practical application of interpersonal communication and group dynamics skills training in the development of professionalism, specifically exploring the utilization of such training in the curricula of pre-service teacher education programs.

The study sets forth a normative philosophical framework for professional development which is grounded in the models of interpersonal communication and group dynamics developed by Jack Gibb (1970) and Gerrard Egan (1976). Specific practical applications are explored and the primary elements of the theory are illustrated in the form of possible curricular elements. These practical applications address the issues of: (1) Team Building and Group Contract Development, (2) Interpersonal Communication and Group Dynamics Skills Training, and (3) Collaborative Decision Making/Empowerment.

The study also critiques the possible benefits associated with the proposed theoretical framework and its practical applications for use in pre-service teacher education programs. Finally, the study makes recommendations for utilization of the theory in various' educational settings and explores the possibility of further research and publication.