Making the Connection: An Approach to Linking Theory and Practice in a Special Education Internship Program
Keywords:Connecting theory and practice, Special education, Preservice teachers, Internship, Student teaching
In this paper, the authors discuss an approach to dismantle the divide that exists between theory and practice. Connecting theory and practice in teacher education is critical to the work of preparing teacher candidates for the teaching profession. The separation that exists between educational research and teacher in-field practices has forced preservice teacher educators at colleges and universities to critically examine the roots of disconnect between methods courses and field work in schools. However, conversation about the divide between theory and practice in special education preservice teacher programs appears to be scant in the existing research literature. This paper contributes to the literature by focusing on major components of a special education internship program developed through a Higher Education Initiative Grant in narrowing the gap between theory and practice in teacher education. These components include: strong school partnerships, intensive field time, integrating coursework and field work, and reflective practice. Implications for future studies examining the perceptions of special education preservice teachers regarding their ability to connect theory and practice is considered.