Teaching out of field in Maths and Science: the experiences of rural and regional teachers

A School of Education seminar presented on July 19th, 2017 by Dr Frances Quinn

The incidence of teaching out of field (OOF) in Australia is significant, with about 16% of Year 7-10 classes being taught by teachers teaching out of field. This phenomenon is common in rural and remote areas, so it is important to understand how it impacts teaching and learning and how schools can most effectively support OOF teachers. This 3-year Australian Research Council study is investigating out-of-field mathematics and science teaching in rural and remote schools in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. It focuses on how teacher knowledge, practice and identity are inter-related and how they change as teachers adapt to new teaching roles within particular school environments. The study is on-going and the researchers are nearing the end of data collection. Some preliminary findings indicate that OOF teaching has been a positive and enjoyable experience for some teachers. There are substantial challenges including additional workload, how to respond to student questions in the new subject area, limited access to support people or professional learning. Teachers who perceived their OOF teaching experiences as negative, reported facing tensions around their professional identity amongst other challenges.