Cairnes & Almeida Positive Aspect of Supervision in Student Teaching: The Student Teachers' Perspective

Cairnes, S., & Almeida, L. S. (2007). Positive aspects of the teacher training supervision: The student teachers’ perspective. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 22(4), pp. 515-528.

Summary: This quantitative study used a survey of 224 student teachers in secondary schools in arts and sciences at a university in Portugal to understand the student teachers’ perspectives of the supervision they received by their university supervisors and their cooperating teachers. The student teachers were undergraduate seniors. In this article, they report on the positive aspects. They found that student teachers want involvement, proximity, respect, and support in their supervisory relationships (and that includes with both the university supervisor and the cooperating teacher). They also note that student teachers identified time as a critical factor in determining the success of the relationship. Over time, the student teachers’ relationships with their university supervisors improved. Student teachers perceived the university supervisor to be more competent at the end of the student teaching experience than at the beginning. The student teachers did not report a change in their perceptions of their cooperating teachers’ competence. Student teachers perceived the university supervisor to have strengths in academic competence and expertise and they perceived the cooperating teacher to have strengths in teaching-in-action such as enthusiasm, sense of professionalism, creativity, and innovation as well as deep knowledge about the school and about the student teachers’ performance.

Description of the divisions of roles between the university supervisor and the cooperating teacher:

“The contact with the university supervisor(s) was more sporadic, occurring usually once per week, approximately for a period of two hours, and requiring the student teachers’ to commute to the university. The university supervisor visited approximately three times the school context in order to join the cooperating teacher in the observation (and evaluation) of the student teacher’s performance. Concerning the cooperating teacher, the contact was more continuous, occurring on a daily basis, and at the school setting (p. 518).”


They used an instrument called the Inventory of Experiences and Perceptions of the Teaching Practice by Caires & Almeida, 2001). The instrument has 61 items that are organized by five dimensions. These dimensions include (1) Professional and Institutional Socialization, (2) Learning and Professional Development, (3) Socio-Emotional Aspects, (4) Support/Resources/Supervision, and (5) Vocational Aspects.


Regarding University Supervisors:

  • They were organized, enlightening, and relevant in their suggestions, but their feedback became less important as the year went on.
  • Factors that may have influenced the change in students teachers’ perceptions include a shift in their ability to report on superficial aspects of the supervisor’s role and responsibilities to a deeper understanding in their role such as sensitivity, recognizing that teaching is hard, and more specific needs in their feedback and emotional support. The more the student teacher knew the university supervisor, the more likely they were to report on these aspects of the university supervisor. In essence, they were better able to describe their perceptions of the university supervisor’s supervision.
  • Student teachers felt the university supervisors had the following attributes: accessibility, good sense, attentiveness, flexibility, and sympathy.
  • The relationship between student teacher and university supervisor included trust, cooperation, empathy, and a high level of complicity.


Regarding Cooperating Teachers:

  • This relationship was privileged or more important than the relationship with the university supervisor.


Student teachers had similar reports on the kinds of feedback they received from both the university supervisor and the cooperating teacher. They wanted feedback that was pertinent, constructive, clear, and objective. Student teachers cherish and expect feedback.


The supervisory relationship is “…an important source of personal and emotional support (p. 525).”


This study calls for studies that examine the “real” impact on student teachers’ personal and professional development.