Engaging minds around curricular and cross-competence in post-primary teacher education: The Learning to Teach Study (LETS)

Conway, Paul, Murphy, Rosaleen, Delargey, Michael, Hall, Kathy, Kitching, Karl, Long, Fiachra, McKeon, Jacinta, Murphy, Brian, O'Brien, Stephen and O'Sullivan, Dan (2011) Engaging minds around curricular and cross-competence in post-primary teacher education: The Learning to Teach Study (LETS). [Conference Proceedings]


The aim of this research, the Learning to Teach Study (LETS), the first of its kind on the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in Ireland, was to develop and implement a study of initial teacher education in the PGDE in post-primary education. It sought to identify the individual and contextual dynamics of how student teachers develop curricular and cross- curricular competences during initial teacher education. Within an overall framework that explores how student teachers co-construct their skills, competences and identity as teachers, it focuses on curricular competences in mathematics, science and language teaching, and on the cross-curricular competences of reading and digital literacy and the development of inclusive teaching practices. Rooted in a socio-cultural perspective on learning and adopting an interpretative methodology, LETS involved the collaborative development of three interviews protocols and a survey by the research team. Seventeen (n=17) students were interviewed three times during the PGDE, and one hundred and thirty three students completed a detailed survey on their learning to teach experience (n=133, i.e. response rate of 62.7% of the cohort). Among the main findings emerging from the study are: (i) schools provide valuable support for PGDE students but this typically does not focus on classroom pedagogy, (ii) PGDE students typically felt that they had to be 'invisible' as learners in schools to gain and maintain authority and status, (iii) inherited cultural scripts about what it means to be a 'good' subject teacher shaped teacher identity and classroom practice, and (iv) as PGDE students begin to feel competent as teachers of maths, modern languages and science, this feeling of competence typically does not include their capacity to teach for inclusion and reading literacy within their subject teaching. We discuss the findings in terms of the student teachers co-construction of their identities and knowledge as teachers.

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