Dissertation projects

A selection of current dissertation projects conducted by our PhDs.


Alexandra TotterMag. Alexandra Totter

Blogging during internship – a reflection medium to cope with stress during professional placements of teacher education students?

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This cumulative dissertation seeks to contribute to the discussion of the potential of weblogs as a reflection medium for teacher education students, to cope with stress during professional placements.

Teacher education students spend a large portion of their studies in internships. These internships serve as an interface between theory and practice and contribute to a large extent to preparing students for their responsibilities in their professional field. Research about teaching internships reports on many stress-inducing challenges for the teaching students (Gardner, 2010; Meyer & Kiel, 2014).

Reflecting on their professional practice is an essential part of teaching internship. Students should be guided and supported in reflecting on their experiences – the challenges and stress they face.

In recent years, new technical means are available for reflection. For example, weblogs are used during teaching internships to promote collaborative learning, reflection, communication and for social support (Deng & Yuen, 2009; Wopereis, Sloep & Poortman, 2010; Yang, 2009). Weblogs are chronologically structured websites, which allow students to publish diary-like contributions (so called posts), which can be commented by readers that have access to them. In this way, weblogs allow for social support and knowledge exchange through the internet. Fellow students have the possibility to read the posts and can (readily) react in the form of written feedback. Such feedback can be supportive for students on an emotional level (e.g., demonstrating empathy, acknowledgement and solidarity) as well as on the cognitive level (though concrete suggestion for problem-solving) (Nückles, Renkl & Fries, 2005).

Despite the effort to integrate weblogs as instruments for reflection in teaching education, the theoretical and empirical debate is still dissatisfying. So far, it remains unclear whether blogging can be prescribed as a reflection medium, or if such an approach might even cause additional stress for students and prompt resistance (Hobbs, 2007; Hramiak, Boulton & Irwin, 2009). Other studies point to the fact, that the level of reflection within blog posts rarely meets the high expectations (Harland & Wondra, 2011; Wopereis, Sloep & Portman, 2010). Studies addressing the evolution of reflection practice over a longer period are entirely missing.

Based on these considerations this dissertation provides directions, what considerations regarding the institutional use of weblogs for coping with stress during professional placement of teacher education students. Didactical usage scenarios will be developed and the reflections practice of students analyzed. Additionally, the study reveals factors influencing reflection using weblogs.

The following questions will be investigated empirically:

  • How students reflect when using weblogs to cope with stress during teacher education internships?
    • What are the topics and content in their posts?
    • To which extent do students reflect about stress during internship?
  • Which factors influence the reflection practices of students using weblogs to cope with stress during teacher education internship?