Examining Teacher Education Programs and Field Experiences in K-12 Online Learning Environments

Published on December 20, 2016

Modified on December 10, 2020

Written By: 

Leanna ArchambaultArizona State University


Kathryn KennedyMichigan Virtual Learning Research Institute


Kristen DeBrulerMichigan Virtual Learning Research Institute


Catharyn SheltonArizona State University


Medha DalalArizona State University


Laura McAllisterBrigham Young University


Sabrina HuyettBrigham Young University


Little has evolved when it comes to how field experiences, or the practical, hands-on component of learning to teach, are structured. A study conducted in 2010, looking at how teacher education programs offered field experiences in K-12 online learning environments, found that only seven programs nationally, or 1.3% of responding programs, offered such an experience. In comparison, this report found a small expansion that includes 15 programs across nine states, representing 4.1% of responding teacher education programs. Despite being limited, there appears to be slow, targeted growth. Although signs of progress are noted, significant work remains to move the field forward with respect to K-12 online teacher preparation.

Download the Report

Prepared By:
  • Leanna Archambault
  • Kathryn Kennedy
  • Kristen DeBruler
  • Catharyn Shelton
  • Medha Dalal
  • Laura McAllister
  • Sabrina Huyett
What We Already Know About This Topic:

Very few programs offer field experiences in K-12 online learning. According to the last systematic look at this issue in 2010, only a small fraction of responding teacher education programs offered students the ability to complete a field experience online (Kennedy & Archambault, 2012). These programs were predominantly located in Florida universities and represented only 1.3% of those surveyed. Teacher education programs as a whole have made little progress in preparing preservice teachers for online settings (Kennedy & Archambault, 2012).

What This Report Adds:

The report examines how U.S. teacher education programs have evolved to prepare preservice teachers for K-12 online learning, particularly when it comes to field experiences. Results indicated that only 4.1% of those surveyed were offered a field experience opportunity in an online setting. Relatively speaking, there were few program expansions resulting in an increase from seven programs, representing 1.3% of responding programs in 2010 to 15 programs, representing 4.1% of the 2016 sample.

Implications for Practice and/or Policy:

During the past six years, there appears to be a greater recognition of the need for preservice teachers to be ready to teach in a variety of learning environments. With the need for K-12 online teachers is likely to increase, there will be additional demand for preservice teachers who are well-qualified and who can be hired directly from their teacher education programs. Teacher education programs have continued to struggle with preparing candidates for 21st century teaching and learning environments (Kennedy & Archambault, 2012). What is clear from revisiting the issue six years later is that while pockets of progress have been made, significant work still remains.

Previous Publications

Kennedy, K., & Archambault, L. (2012). Offering preservice teachers field experiences in K-12 online learning: A national survey of teacher education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(801), 185–200. doi:10.1177/0022487111433651

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