The Out-of-Field Teacher in Context: The Impact of the School Context and Environment

  • Anna  E. du PlessisEmail author
  • Linda Hobbs
  • Julie  A. Luft
  • Colleen Vale


School environments impact student behaviours and share specific goals, and they develop shared understandings through perceptions and experiences which demonstrate a specific culture in a school community (Shields 2002). Teacher support needs vary, but the adequacy of the support according to teacher needs will strongly influence whether teachers simply cope or manage their out-of-field teaching load. The challenge for out-of-field teachers, then, is how to manage to develop in-depth knowledge of the specific curriculum and how to contribute to planning and evaluating the fit-for-context/fit-for-purpose aspects of the curriculum and the school context. Supporting out-of-field teachers entails an in-depth look at the meaning of out-of-field teaching for enacting a specific curriculum and of the in-school context as a whole, with a specific focus on communication, collaboration and cooperation within the wider school community.


School environment and context Professional knowledge School cultures and traditions Shaping roles Expertise Teacher roles Subject-specific nature of teaching Enactment of the curriculum 


  1. Appeldoorn, K. (2004). Developing and validating the colloboratives for excellence in teacher preparation (CETP) core evaluation classroom observation protocol (COP). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.Google Scholar
  2. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). (2014). Australian professional standards for teachers (1st ed.) [ebook] Melbourne: AITSL (pp. 1–7). Accessed 15 Nov 2015.
  3. Avraamidou, L., & Zembal-Saul, C. (2010). In search of well-started beginning science teachers: Insights from two first-year elementary teachers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(6), 661–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck, L. (2002). The complexity and coherence of educational communities: An analysis of the images that reflect and influence scholarship and practice. In G. Furman (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 23–51). Albany, NY: State of New York Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bennet, J., Singh, H., & Luft, J. A. (2018). Constraining secondary science teacher development: An examination of teaching out-of-field. Paper Presented at the National Association for Research in Science Teaching Conference, Atlanta, GA.Google Scholar
  6. Berliner, D. C. (1986). In pursuit of the expert pedagogue. Educational Researcher, 15(7), 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berthelsen, D., & Walker, S. (2008). Parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Australian Institute of Family Studies. Family Matters, 79, 34–41.Google Scholar
  8. Blazar, D. (2015). Grade assignments and the teacher pipeline: A low-cost lever to improve student achievement? Educational Researcher, 44(4), 213–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blömeke, S., Hoth, J., Döhrmann, M., Busse, A., Kaiser, G., & König, J. (2015). Teacher change during induction: Development of beginning primary teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and performance. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 13(2), 287–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Council, E. (2016). National STEM school education strategy: A comprehensive plan for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Australia. Canberra: Council of Australian Govrernments.Google Scholar
  11. Darby, L. (2009). Subject culture and pedagogies: Comparing mathematics and science. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds.Google Scholar
  12. Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  13. Du Plessis, A. E. (2005). The implications of the out of field phenomenon for school management. Master dissertation, University of South Africa, UNISA, Pretoria.Google Scholar
  14. Du Plessis, A. E. (2010). Continuing professional development and the out of field phenomenon: The implications for school management. Doctoral dissertation, University of South Africa, UNISA, Pretoria.Google Scholar
  15. Du Plessis, A. E. (2014). Understanding the out-of-field teaching experience. Ph.D. Thesis, School of Education, The University of Queensland,
  16. Du Plessis, A. (2017). Out-of-field teaching: What educational leaders need to know. Boston: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Du Plessis, A. E. (2018/Forthcoming). Professional support beyond initial teacher education. Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Du Plessis, A. E., Gillies, R. M., & Carroll, A. (2014). Out-of-field teaching and professional development: A transnational investigation across Australia and South Africa. International Journal of Educational Research, 66, 90–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dubois, S., & Luft, J. A. (2014). Science teachers without classrooms of their own: A study of the phenomenon of floating. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Furman, G. (2002a). Postmodernism and community in schools: Unraveling the paradox. In G. Furman (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 51–75). Albany, NY: State of New York Press.Google Scholar
  21. Furman, G. (2002b). Conclusion: What is leadership for? In G. Furman (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 277–294). Albany: State of New York Press.Google Scholar
  22. Furman, G. (2002c). Introduction. In G. Furman (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 1–19). Albany: State of New York Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Hobbs, L. (2013a). Teaching ‘out-of-field’ as a boundary-crossing event: Factors shaping teacher identity. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11(2), 271–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hobbs, L. (2013b). Boundary crossings of out-of-field teachers: Locating learning possibilities amid disruption. In J. Langan-Fox & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Boundary-spanning in organizations: network, influence, and conflict (pp. 7–28). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Hobbs, L. (2015). Teaching science out-of-field. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of science education (pp. 1044–1048). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Spedlewinde, C., Campbell, C., & Hobbs, L. (2017). The changing identity and practice of early career teacher who teach across subject boundaries. Paper Presented to the European Conference of Educational Research, Copenhagen, August 22–25, 2017.Google Scholar
  28. Hobbs, L., Campbell, C., Vale, C., Speldewinde, C., Quinn, F., & Lyons, T. (2017). Capturing change and experience through metaphor: Understanding the learning journeys of out-of-field teachers. Paper Presented to the Contemporary Approaches to Methodology Conference, Deakin University, Melbourne, November 26–27, 2017.Google Scholar
  29. Hobbs, L., Cripps, C. J., & Plant, B. (2018). Successful Students—STEM program: Teacher learning through a multifaceted vision for STEM education. In R. Jorgensen & K. Larkin (Eds.), STEM education in the junior secondary: The state of play (pp. 133–168). Singapore: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & Stuckey, D. (2014). Seven trends: The transformation of the teaching force, updated April 2014. CPRE Report (#RR-80). Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  31. Lawrenz, F., Huffman, D., Appeldoorn, K., & Sun, T. (2002). CETP core evaluation, classroom observation handbook. Minneapolis: CAREI.Google Scholar
  32. Lewis, C., Perry, R., & Murata, A. (2006). How should research contribute to instructional improvement? The case of lesson study. Educational Researcher, 35(3), 3–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Luft, J. A. (2009). Beginning secondary science teachers in different induction programs: The first year of teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 31(17), 2355–2384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Luft, J. A., & Patterson, N. C. (2002). Bridging the gap: Supporting beginning science teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13(4), 287–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Luft, J. A., Firestone, J., Wong, S., Adams, K., Ortega, I., & Bang, E. J. (2011). Beginning secondary science teacher induction: A two-year mixed methods study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(10), 1199–1224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Luft, J. A., Hill, K., & Wong, S. S. (in review). The impact of induction programs in the first five years of teaching: A mixed methods study of early career secondary science teachers’ beliefs, knowledge and practices.Google Scholar
  37. Mawhinney, H. (2002). The microecology of social capital formation: Developing community beyond the school house door. In G. Furman (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 235–255). Albany: State of New York Press.Google Scholar
  38. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2015). Science teachers learning: Enhancing opportunities, creating supportive contexts. Committee on Strengthening Science Education through a Teacher Learning Continuum. Board on Science Education and Teacher Advisory Council, Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  39. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  40. Nixon, R., Luft, J. A., & Ross, R. (2017). Prevalence and predictors of out-of-field teaching in the first five years. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 54(9), 1197–1218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Noddings, N. (2006). Educating whole people: A response to Jonathan Cohen. Harvard Educational Review, 76(2), 238–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Preston, J. (2011). Influencing community involvement in school: A school community council. McGill Journal of Education, 46(2), 197–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Prew, M. (2009). Community involvement in school development: Modifying school improvement concepts to the Needs of South African Township Schools. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37, 824–846. Scholar
  44. Productivity Commission. (2017). Shifting the dial: 5 Year productivity review (Inquiry Report No. 84). Canberra: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  45. Redding, S. (1996). Quantifying the components of school community. The School Community Journal, 6(2), 131–147.Google Scholar
  46. Redding, S. (1998). The community of the school. The School Community Journal, 8(2), 1–24.Google Scholar
  47. Rolls, S., & Plauborg, H. (2009). Teachers’ career trajectories: An examination of research. In M. Bayer, U. Brinkkjær, H. Plauborg, & S. Rolls (Eds.), Teachers’ career trajectories and work lives (pp. 9–28). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rosenblatt, Z., & Peled, D. (2002). School ethical climate and parental involvement. Journal of Educational Administration, 40(4), 349–367. Scholar
  49. Sanders, M. (2003). Community involvement in schools: From concept to practice. Education and Urban Society, 35(2), 161–180. Scholar
  50. Schaps, E. (2009). Creating caring school communities. Leadership, 38(4), 8–11.Google Scholar
  51. Schutz, A. (2006). Home is a prison in the global city: The tragic failure of school-based community engagement strategies. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 691–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Seidman, I. (1998). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  53. Sergiovanni, T. (1992). Moral leadership: Getting to the heart of school improvement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shields, C. (2002). Learning from educators: Insights into building communities of difference. In G. Furman (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 143–162). Albany: State of New York Press.Google Scholar
  55. Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Siskin, L. S. (1994). Realms of knowledge: Academic departments in secondary schools. London: The Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  57. Stake, R. (2005). Qualitative case studies. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 443–466). Thousands Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  58. Taylor, T. (2000). The future of the past: Final report of the national inquiry into school history. Faculty of Education, Monash University.Google Scholar
  59. Thomas, S., Wernert, N., O’Grady, E., & Rodrigues, S. (2017). TIMSS 2015: Reporting Australia’s results. Camberwell, Victoria: ACER.
  60. Tytler, R., Symington, D., Darby, L., Malcolm, C., & Kirkwood, V. (2011). Discourse communities: A model for considering professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(5), 871–879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. United States of America: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Weldon, P. (2016). Out-of-field teaching in secondary schools. Policy Insights, Issue 6. Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  63. White, R., & Gunstone, R. (1998). Probing understanding (pp. 114–150). London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  64. Zedan, R. (2011). Parent involvement according to education level, socio-economic situation, and number of family members. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 11(1), 13–28.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna  E. du Plessis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Linda Hobbs
    • 2
  • Julie  A. Luft
    • 3
  • Colleen Vale
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher EducationBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Deakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationUniversity of GeorgiaAthens, GeorgiaUSA
  4. 4.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations