Third Space Creates Collaborative Environments to Develop Pre-service Teachers


  • Amanda Steiner University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Julie Bell University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Chris Wilcoxen University of Nebraska at Omaha



Third Space, teacher preparation, field-based experience, clincial practice


In the fall of 2012, 11% (n=157) of clinical practice (i.e. student teaching) candidates at a metropolitan university were in jeopardy of not passing clinical practice. Public schools in the area began to voice their concerns, and placements of candidates became a challenge. As a result, the university re-envisioned the program, utilizing third space to facilitate discourse between local school districts and university faculty. The development of third space was based on program data, which led to the following shifts in the program: scaffolded coursework with increased time in the field; instructional coaching prior to clinical practice; and a system for collecting feedback to sustain partnerships. Collaboration between P-12 schools and the university was essential in preparing candidates to connect theory and apply it in practice. By spring 2016, the initiatives implemented led to a 12% decrease of candidates in jeopardy of not passing clinical practice. As the teacher preparation program continues to grow, one of the biggest challenges is continuing to build and sustain new partnerships. The authors provide a framework for how programs could adapt some of these initiatives to develop and sustain university and school partnerships. 

Author Biographies

Amanda Steiner, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dr.Steiner graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. She began her career working as a teacher and tutor in the Czech Republic. Dr. Steiner taught in the Millard Public School district for 7 years, serving as a Primary Montessori Teacher. During this time she earned her Montessori Certification and a Masters in Curriculum in Instruction from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Dr. Steiner earned a second Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Doane College. In 2017, she graduate with her doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Julie Bell , University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dr. Julie Bell knew as a young child she wanted to be a teacher. Her mom and many of her family members were educators, and Dr. Bell saw firsthand what it meant to care about students and their success. She went on to teach high school English, speech, and theatre. Dr. Bell decided to pursue a Ph.D. because she enjoyed having conversations with teachers and hearing about the amazing, innovative practices happening in their classrooms. Dr. Bell considers herself extremely fortunate to teach and learn with colleagues, teacher candidates, teachers, and librarians who care just as deeply about working with youth as she does.

Chris Wilcoxen, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dr. Chris Wilcoxen is the the Director of the CADRE Project and Graduate Program Chair in the Teacher Education Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 


American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (2018). A pivot toward clinical practice, its lexicon, and the renewal of educator preparation.

Abbott, C. J., & McKnight, K. (2010). Developing instructional leadership through collaborative learning. AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, 7(2), 20-26.

Beck, J. S. (2020). Investigating the third space: A new agenda for teacher education research. Journal of Teacher Education, 71(4), 379-391.

Boyd, D. J., Grossman, P. L., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2009). Teacher preparation and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(4), 416–440.

Braaten, M. (2019). Persistence of the two-worlds pitfall: Learning to teach within and across settings. Science Education, 103(1), 61-91.

Costa, A.L., & Garmston, R.J. (2015). Cognitive coaching: Developing self-direction leaders and learners (3rd ed.). Rowman and Littlefield.

Clarke, D., & Winslade, M. (2019). A school-university teacher education partnership: Reconceptualising reciprocity of learning. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 10(1), 138–156.

Darling-Hammond, L., Hammerness, K., Grossman, P., Rust, F., & Shulman, L. (2005). The design of teacher education programs. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world (pp. 390-441). Jossey Bass.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Teacher education and the American future. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 35–47.

DeAngelis, K., Wall, A., & Che, J. (2013). The Impact of Preservice Preparation and Early Career Support on Novice Teachers’ Career Intentions and Decisions. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(4), 338–355.

DeLuca, C. C. (2012). Preparing teachers for the age of accountability: Toward a framework for assessment education. Action In Teacher Education, 34(5-6), 576-591.

Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). From Preparation to Practice: Designing a continuum to strengthen and sustain teaching. Teachers College Record, 103(6), 1013-55.

Feiman-Nemser, S., & Buchmann, M. (1985). Pitfalls of experience in teacher preparation. Teachers College Record, 87, 255–273.

Goodlad, J. I. (1993). School-university partnerships and partner schools. Educational Policy, 7(1), 24.

Hammerness K. & Kennedy, B. (2019). Teaching practices grounded in foundational knowledge, visions, and contexts. The New Educator, 15(1), 66-83.

Hollins, E. (2011). Teacher preparation for quality teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(4),395-407.

Klein, E., Taylor, M., Onore, C., Strom, K.,& Abrams, L. (2013). Finding a third space in teacher education: Creating an urban teacher residency. Teaching Education, 24(1), 27–57.

Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching; A partnership approach to improving instruction. Corwin Press.

Lawley, J.I., Moore, J., & Smajic, A. (2014). Effective communication between preservice and mentor teachers. The New Educator, 10, 153-162.

Lee, R. E. (2018). Breaking down barriers and building bridges: Transformative practices in community- and school-based urban teacher preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, 69(2), 118-126.

Moore, L., & Sampson, M. B. (2008). Field-based teacher preparation: An organizational analysis of enabling conditions. Education, 129(1), 3–16.

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE]. (2010). Transforming teacher education through clinical practice: A national strategy to prepare effective teachers.

National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. (1996). What matters most: Teaching for America’s future. Report of the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future. National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.

Orland-Barak, L. & Wang, J. (2020). Teacher mentoring in service of preservice teachers’ learning to teach: Conceptual bases, characteristics, and challenges for teacher education reform. Journal of Teacher Education, 72(1), 86-99.

Ronfeldt, M., Brockman, S. L., & Campbell, S. L. (2018). Does cooperating teachers’ instructional effectiveness improve preservice teachers’ future performance? Educational Researcher, 47(7), 405-418.

Ronfeldt, M., Owens Farmer, S., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. A. (2015). Teacher collaboration in instructional teams and student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 475-514.

Sailors, M., & Hoffman, J.V. (2019). Mentoring in transformative hybrid spaces: Preservice teacher preparation and literacy learning in Mocambique. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 63(2), 127-133.

Torrez, C. A. F., & Krebs, M. M. (2012). Expert voices: what cooperating teachers and teacher candidates say about quality student teaching placements and experiences. Action in Teacher Education, 34(5-6), 485–499.

Wilcoxen, C., Proctor, J., Steiner, A., & Lemke, J. (2015). Collaborating with University Faculty and District Partners to Provide Meaningful Field Experiences for Pre-service Teachers. The Field Experience Journal. 15 Fall, 111.

Zeichner, K. (2010). Rethinking the connections between campus courses and field experiences in college- and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 89-99.

Zeichner, K. (2012). The turn once again toward practice-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(5), 376-382.