Publication Date



Teacher candidates (TCs) often feel underprepared for their first teaching positions. Teacher education programs are, at least partially, responsible for the level of readiness of their graduating TCs. Fortunately, teacher educators have the capacity to positively change teacher education, creating a more effective, better prepared teaching force. Embedded clinical experiences connected to university literacy courses are one innovative approach to create more purposeful and engaging learning opportunities for TCs. TCs in an early childhood and special education program participated in an embedded clinical experience focused on reading and assessment, which allowed them to implement course content directly with elementary students, effectively connecting theory and practice. This qualitative study explored the impacts of an embedded clinical experience on TCs’ beliefs, content knowledge, and instructional practices related to reading and assessment. Content analysis was used to analyze data collected through semistructured interviews, participants’ reflective journal entries, weekly lesson plans, audio-recorded Socratic seminars, and video-recorded reading lessons. This inquiry revealed an increase in TCs’ pedagogical knowledge and confidence. The authors found that implementing an embedded clinical experience working with elementary students in conjunction with university coursework contextualized and meaningfully integrated course content in practical teaching experiences, encouraging TCs to refine their philosophical and pedagogical beliefs.