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An investigation of the role expectations held among and within the groups representing each of the three members of the student teaching triad Ryan, Mark William John


This study examines, describes, and clarifies the role expectations held among and within the groups representing each of the three members of the student teaching triad (the faculty advisor, the student teacher, and the cooperating teacher). The study identifies areas of potential role conflict and role ambiguity. The framework developed by means of which to study role expectations extends the work of Garland (1965). It allows an examination of the way in which certain individual and contextual variables are associated with differing role expectations and also provides a vocabulary for the description of the expected roles of the members of the student teaching triad. A survey instrument listing a number of expectations for each role was developed on the basis of instrumentation used by Garland (1965), Kaplan (1967) and Castillo (1971). The instrument was distributed to all faculty advisors, student teachers, and cooperating teachers participating in the Phase 3 Winter practicum at the University of Alberta. The instrument contained 166 items divided into 3 sections, each of which described expectations for one of the respondent groups in the student teaching triad. Respondents were instructed to complete all sections of the survey by indicating the extent of their agreement to the appropriateness of the described expectation for each role. The analysis of the data showed that the faculty advisor role is perceived less clearly than the other two, and could, consequently be the major source of role ambiguity and potential role conflict in this sample. Further, the rural, field-based faculty advisors of the program expected to be more involved in the practicum and were generally more supportive of a more direct faculty advisor role than were their urban, university-based counterparts. Student teachers are expected to assume total responsibility for the instructional program but no such clarity of expectations exists about the non-instructional aspects of their role such as preparing individual case studies. Considerable overall agreement was evident for the cooperating teacher role with little indication of role ambiguity or role conflict. However, student teachers did express the view that faculty advisors should observe, evaluate and even select cooperating teachers, a finding which suggests that it may be premature to say that no conflict is associated with the cooperating teacher role. Differences in role expectations were also evident between elementary and secondary student teacher and cooperating teacher sub-groups for the student teacher role. The study leads to a number of recommendations for policy and research. The principal recommendation for policymakers is that the members of the triad need to be made aware of: (1) the lower degree of agreement for the faculty advisor role and the consequent dilemmas faced by these advisors and (2) the large number of expectations held for the cooperating teacher role. Further research should consider: (1) the apparent anomoly between, on the one hand, a clear agreement about the designated expectations for the cooperating teacher role and, on the other, the strong feeling of students, not shared by other members of the triad, that the cooperating teacher be screened before appointment to perform the role and (2) those areas in which disagreement was identified for both the faculty advisor and student teacher roles.

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