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, funded by the Department of Education and Skills (DES), was to develop and implement a study of initial teacher education in the PGDE in post-primary education, in the School of
Education, University College Cork. Its aim was to identify the individual and
lar competences during initial teacher education (ITE). Within an overall framework that explores how student teachers develop 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. LETS is the first programe level research on the PGDE, familiarly known to generations of student teachers and teachers as 'the Dip' or 'the HDip'.
LETS report is divided into six sections encompassing thirteen chapters. Section 1 includes the review of literature and study aims in Chapter 1 and the research
methodology in Chapter 2. Adopting an interpretive approach, LETS involved the collaborative development of three interviews protocols and a survey by the research team. Seventeen (n=17) students were interviewed three times over the course of PGDE programe, 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 212 students in the PGDE 2008/09 cohort). The four chapters in Section 2 focus on professional identity as a central dimension of learning to teach. Among the dimensions of learning to teach addressed in this section are the role of observation and cultural scripts in becoming a teacher, the visibility/invisibility of PGDE students as learners and the relationships between emotions, resilience and commitment to teaching. The three chapters in Section 3 focus on mathematics, modern languages and science respectively in the context of conventional and reform-oriented visions of good teaching. A number of common as well as subject-specific themes emerged in this section in relation to subject matter teaching. Section 4 focuses on PGDE students? experience of inclusion (chapter 10) and reading literacy (chapter 11) while learning to teach. Section 5 focuses on a key aspect of initial teacher education, namely, the school-university partnership. The final section provides a summary of the findings, identifies seven key issues emerging from these findings, makes recommendations under four headings (system, teacher education institutions, partnerships in ITE and further research) and discusses some implications for
research, policy and practice in initial teacher education.
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 felt 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. In the context of research on teacher education, many of the findings are not unique to the PGDE or to UC but reflect perennial dilemas and emerging challenges in initial teacher education. This fact is important in setting a context for the wider dissemination of the Learning to Teach Study.