The Efficacy of Training Cooperating Teachers

Apr. 20, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 39, (April, 2014), p. 77-88.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study investigated the differences between trained Clinical Faculty (CF) and untrained cooperating teachers (CTs) in terms of their sense of self-efficacy for mentoring student teachers; ratings of student teachers’ performance; new teachers’ perceived competence; and new teachers’ perceived impact on K-12 student learning and development.

Drawing on multiple data sources from more than a decade of implementation, researchers investigated initial outcomes of the program for cooperating teachers, student teachers, and new teachers.
Data were collected through university supervisors' evaluations and surveys.
A total of 101 CF and CTs completed the survey.
Of the total respondents, 75 were trained CF and 26 were untrained CTs.


The findings reveal that trained Clinical Faculty (CF) tended to have greater self-efficacy for mentoring.
The authors explained that through the training program, CF are taught about, apply, and receive developmental feedback in their use of six different techniques for gathering information about a student teacher’s professional competence.
The CF training emphasizes the qualities and application of effective feedback, which has been characterized as being comprised of honesty, timeliness, specificity, accuracy, and constructiveness.

The provision of such feedback is considered to be critically important to helping a pre-service teacher improve performance.
Trained CF indicated significantly higher self-ratings on several constructs related to serving in the role of cooperating teacher, which notably included understanding the roles of a cooperating teacher in the preparation of new teachers, effectively observing teacher candidates during field experiences, and summatively evaluating student teacher performance.

Finally, evaluations of student teachers mentored by CF tended to be higher.
The findings showed that greater accuracy in assessing student teacher performance may result in stronger actual performance of student teachers placed with CF as compared to those placed with untrained CTs, as evidenced by comparably higher evaluations by university supervisors.


The study suggests that training for the role through a process such as the Clinical Faculty Program may be an effective basis for how to prepare classroom teachers to mentor pre-service teacher candidates.
This model may, indeed, be strengthened by its further emphasis on developing networks of clinical faculty both within and between schools with whom a university regularly partners, thus strengthening field experiences for student teachers placed with untrained CTs, as well.

Updated: Feb. 10, 2015