University of Limerick
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Preparing physical education teachers for the reality of teaching in schools: the case of one physical education teacher education (PETE) programme

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posted on 2022-11-24, 12:32 authored by Therese Hartley
The purpose of this research is to determine the ways in which learning opportunities within the physical education teacher education (PETE) programme are continued in practice by beginning and experienced physical education teachers in post-primary schools. The project identifies the extent to which particular PETE programme experiences and opportunities are relevant to beginning and experienced teachers, establishing the extent to which what teachers need to consider as practitioners is part of the discursive dialogue in PETE programmes. There is a necessity for such a study because, firstly, previous studies question the effect of PETE programmes with respect to more familiar practices observed and practiced in school settings (Matanin and Collier, 2003). Secondly, Irish PETE has yet to contribute to the current international debate of content knowledge within PETE programmes (Siedentop, 2002; Tsangaridou, 2002) and it is imperative that it is conversant with the issues, and actively contributes to, the expanding international research on PETE. Zeichner & Conklin's (2008) framework for thinking about teacher education programmes provides a way to highlight the substantive features of the PETE programme, examining any gap between the PETE programme and reality of teaching in schools. That is, this project provides empirical evidence demonstrating the link between (1) the PETE programme and teachers' learning and (2) teachers' learning and their practices in the school. The occupational utility of knowledge, with a focus on knowledge of physical education content and knowing how to teach in schools, examines the link between the content knowledge focus in the PETE programme and the content of physical education in schools. Beginning and experienced teachers' changing perceptions about the physical education teaching field is examined with respect to their experience of physical education as a school student, their involvement as a pre-service teacher in a PETE programme and their current role as a teacher. Mapping the extent of these changing perceptions identify what beginning and experienced teachers bring with them to teaching and the impact particular institutional practices have on teachers. Working conditions are crucial to remaining in the profession, acknowledging that teachers often decide whether to remain in the profession based on early experiences (Weiss, 1999). This project identifies the extent to which conditions such as appropriate and fair teaching assignments, working relationships with colleagues and school organization and leadership encourage teachers to remain in the profession. Working to an interpretive paradigm (MacDonald, Kirk, Metzler, Nilges, Schempp and Wright, 2002), the research methodology sets out to investigate the similarities and differences that exist in beginning and experienced physical education teachers' experiences of teaching. The intention is to identify issues that arise within the first year of teaching and appear to embed themselves as practices for experienced teacher as well as identify issues that arise for beginning teaching but are addressed as one becomes more experienced in teaching. Six beginning teachers were interviewed, focussing on current conceptions of the PETE programme, anticipated career trajectories and valued knowledge. Six experienced teachers were identified and were interviewed focussing on their teaching background, the relationship between PETE programme content and teaching school physical education and plans for the future. Data from the interviews were supplemented by monthly prompt sheets from both the beginning and experienced teacher cohorts, serving to record what both cohorts know and are able to do in their job as well as identify areas they are lacking to teach effectively. They were also prompted to note the maintenance of, or any changes to, their working conditions and how they impact on their teaching. The extent to which the PETE programme prepared teachers to teach was achieved with varying degrees of success. The PETE programme was viewed more favourably by the experienced teacher cohort, with the beginning teachers highlighting a general lack of preparedness, particularly in relation to content knowledge, contributing to feelings of frustration and resignation. It is necessary to address these issues associated with the PETE programme if it is to successfully prepare pre-service teachers for the real world of school life. Recommendations to emerge from this study include the necessity to provide school-aligned content knowledge and a more accurate depiction of the environment beginning teachers are likely to encounter in schools in which they work.



  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences


  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

MacPhail, Ann





Department or School

  • Physical Education and Sports Science

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