University of Limerick
Young_2012_defining.pdf (1.28 MB)

Defining possibilities for learning: the learning trajectories of Irish physical education cooperating teachers

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posted on 2023-02-10, 14:17 authored by Ann-Marie Young
Effective school-university partnerships can enhance a pre-service teachers’ (PST) experience and encourage experienced teachers to become cooperating teachers (CT). International literature alludes to the lack of formalised links between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and schools (Beck and Kosnik, 2000, McCullick, 2000) and a similar concern is noted in Ireland (Conway et al., 2009). Acknowledging this concern, ‘Initial Teacher Education: Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers’ (Teaching Council, 2011) recommends that “new and innovative school placement models should be developed using a partnership approach, whereby HEIs and schools actively collaborate in the organisation of the school placement” (p. 16). The aim of this study was to examine the intricacies of the learning trajectories of CTs when responsibility was devolved to them in a bid to contribute to effective school placements. The study employed a situated learning framework, utilising Lave and Wenger’s (1991) concept of legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice. This framework was developed to understand how CTs’ learning trajectories enhance or inhibit the move towards full participation in effective school placements. The study involved five phases and included eighteen qualified physical education teachers. To gain insights into the school placement process, a constructivist paradigm was employed, incorporating a number of qualitative data collection methods including observations, reflections, individual interviews and focus group interviews. The findings indicated that the partnership element between the CT and the PST was particularly strong due to the gradual development of an effective working relationship based on respect and trust. It is clear from the findings that within the school placement the role of the CT is very influential but poorly prepared for and supported by the HEI. CTs identified that there was ambiguity surrounding their role in the school placement process and that there was a need for in-service on the effective delivery of feedback to PSTs on school placements. CTs’ responses support the implementation of a more formalised role in the process of supervision. Data have identified mechanisms to potentially enhance existing policy and practice, develop the role of the CT, and create a systemic shift in schooluniversity partnerships.



  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Ann MacPhail





Department or School

  • Physical Education and Sports Science

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