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Title: An exploration of the development of partnership in learning to teach in Ireland
Author: Aingleis, Bernadette N. I.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3403 2092
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2008
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In Ireland, the involvement of schools in initial teacher education (ITE) is most evident in the logistical arrangements which schools make to facilitate the school-based experiences of student teachers. Critically, schools' involvement in ITE is largely unstructured and unsystematic, and has no statutory basis. Whilst the virtues of ITE partnerships with schools are increasingly being extolled by the DES, there is a significant. dearth of research in Ireland on the nature and quality of student teachers' school-based experiences, and on how schools experience and perceive partnership in ITE. Anecdotal evidence suggests variability in mentoring practices and mixed views about formalising relationships and roles in school-ITE college partnerships. Given the aforementioned background, coupled with a professional interest in collaborative learning, this research sets out (1) to examine the constitution and dynamics of partnership in learning to teach, and (2) to examine the learning processes and practices in a design intervention model of partnership with schools in ITE. A small-scale, two-year qualitative design intervention was set up involving primary schools, final year BEd students, and an ITE university college. The research involved the development of a more collaborative role for schools in teaching practice, particularly in sys,tematic mentoring and in evaluation of student teachers. The personal, the political aAd the professional dimensions of the partnership process as experienced by student teachers, class teachers and principal teachers are explored and presented in thi~ thesis. . A constructivist grounded theory approach was used with an action research methodology. Analysis was part-conducted by NViv07, a computer-assisted software research analysis programme. Semi-structured interviews, participant research diaries, and semi-structured questionnaires were used to examine the process of schools, student teachers and the ITE college working closely together in teaching practice. A focus on the learner teacher in a community of practice context is central throughout the process. Findings, presented as principles, are set against three key questions: (1) Did the design intervention contribute to a more collaborative milieu in teaching practice? (2) Did the design intervention enhance students teachers' learning, and if so, what kind of learning? (3) Are roles and responsibilities in a model of schools-college partnership beginning to emerge more clearly as a result of the design intervention, and does this lead to the redefining of the nature of partnerships in ITE in Ireland? Findings indicate that schools desire a systematic role in the professional development of student teachers during teaching practice. .However, schools do not wish to have sole responsibility for the summative evaluation of student teachers. The ITE college is perceived by schools to be expert in all matters relating to teacher professional development including evaluation. Curriculum coverage, classroom management, and pupils' progress are uppermost in classroom mentoring processes. Developing student teachers' reflective dispositions are less obvious in classroom mentoring. Opportunities to observe teaching and to be observed were valued most by student teachers in helping them learn how to teach. The partnership project heightened awareness in schools of student teachers and helped to build relationships and relational agency. Less able and less resilient students did not benefit from mentoring where the emphasis was on imitation and on 'getting by'. Learning to teach and responses to mentoring were influenced by student teachers' previous experiences of teaching practice. Issues of surveillance and power emerged in some mentoring experiences. Perceptions of support and of relationships strongly influenced the nature and quality of student teachers' learning. Structures helped to create the conditions for partnership with schools. A significant conclusion in this study is the need for a national set of standards for qualified teacher status in the Republic of Ireland within a continuum approach to partnership with schools in teacher professional development. Further research is required on the development of structures, processes, and attitudes which help sustain partnerships. The manner in which this stUdy has focused attention on the affective in learning to teach, on teacher fea(s surrounding partnership in ITE, and on the democratisation of teacher professional development, makes a worthy contribution to scholarly research and to improving the current ITE situation,in Ireland.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available