Doctoral Dissertation

22.2.2019 Colleagues can influence PE teacher educators’ career pathways (McEvoy)


22.2.2019 12:00 — 15:00

Location: Seminaarinmaki , Seminarium, S212
Professional relationships can influence the career pathways of those who educate physical education teachers. Colleagues have the potential to influence PE teacher educators’ career decisions and their development within the profession. PE teacher educators experience a range of underlying feelings about the research aspect of their working lives. The motives associated with doing research can impact upon the experience of conducting research.

Eileen McEvoy from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, studied in her dissertation the professional journeys and research lives of 14 physical education teacher educators based in seven countries. McEvoy noted that in many cases decisions about embarking on a career in teacher education and turning points along the way were shaped by the influence of colleagues. For most, their transition into the teacher education profession was eased by pre-existing relationships with staff in higher education.

- Many participants also mentioned as career landmarks meeting people who would go on to provide support and mentorship during their careers, McEvoy says.

Mixed emotions associated with engagement with research

Another key finding from this study related to the underlying feelings participants had about their engagement with research.

- It was often the case that the type of research being undertaken and the motivations for embarking on research impacted on their experience of involvement in research. It was found that research motivated by practical and contextual drivers, such as job requirements or a wish for promotion, was often associated with feelings of frustration and stress, McEvoy says.

Research driven by personal or altruistic motives, such as desire to improve practice or a desire to enhance personal learning, often elicited feelings such as enjoyment and passion.

Pointing to a need for critical conversations

There is a need for critical and collaborative professional learning conversations. The authenticity of such conversations may be heightened by taking account of differences in teacher educators’ motives, contexts, work roles, levels of autonomy, felt institutional priorities, felt disciplinary priorities and underlying feelings about the research experience.

- I hope that the insights shared in this study regarding the social dimension of the teacher education profession and the realities of being researchers and PE teacher educators may serve to inform such important conversations, McEvoy says.

Eileen McEvoy defends her doctoral thesis, “Professional Journeys and Research Lives of Physical Education Teacher Educators”, on Friday 22nd February 2019 at 12.00 in auditorium S212. The opponent is Prof Mary O’Sullivan (University of Limerick, Ireland) and the docent is Prof Pilvikki Heikinaro-Johansson (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

More information:

The dissertation is published in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä. Research Report series with the number 54. Jyväskylä 2019, ISSN 2489-9003, ISBN 978-951-39-7673-6 (PDF), Link to thesis: https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/62563

Eileen McEvoy, epmcevoy@gmail.com

Eileen McEvoy graduated from the University of Jyväskylä in 2006 with a Master of Sport Sciences. She now works as Policy and Projects Manager at the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Ireland. 

More information

Eileen McEvoy