FIPAIF - Initial Training of Helping Professionals and Identities of Trainers: A Study of Teaching and Nursing


FEDER funds through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors - COMPETE and National Funds through FCT - Foundation for Science andTechnology within the project PTDC/CPE-CED/113015/2009




Project Coordinator
Amélia Lopes (FPCE/UP)


Partner institutions
FPCE/UP - Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto
IPVC - Polytechnic of Viana do Castelo
IPP - Polytechnic of Porto


Research team (FPCE/UP)
Ana Freitas
Ana Mouraz
Carlinda Leite 
Elisabete Ferreira 
Fátima Pereira 
Margarida Marta
Preciosa Fernandes 


01.03.2011 - 30.09.2013






The helping professions are an important part of the world and of the professional system (Hugman, 2005). Embedded in gender issues, they have specific characteristics - engaging specific individuals and presenting special challenges to the professionals and to their trainers. Education and health are fields of great importance in contemporary societies and education and nursing share conditions and challenges, nationally and internationally. Two characteristics define the specificity of these professions: the relationship between professional knowledge and human development; and the particularly complex nature of the professional activity - as multidimensional and interactional (Dubet, 2002). Personally demanding, they are particularly susceptible to processes of routinisation and dehumanisation with serious consequences for professionals, for users and society in general. Historically, training attracted people who often have low expectations, induced by the fact that these courses are valued as trajectories for social mobility and considered easy. The training was short and more prescriptive than instructive, highlighting the aspects of technical and hierarchical obedience. Beginners often had a professional project, at times full of good intentions, but little developed in relation to the human dimension involved in practical action. Hence, with the exigencies of the work contexts, this good will easily transformed itself into defensive postures. In general, the trajectories of these professionals were characterised, and are characterised, by processes of accommodation to existing defensive cultures (Lopes, 2006, A. Pereira, 2008). The social importance gradually assumed by teaching and nursing has positioned these professions within a movement of professionalisation with an impact on initial training, which has become more demanding, longer and of a higher level. The scientific and professional communities have produced studies that call for a professional model of training: training must be grounded in practice, institutional and training partnerships and the personal development. However, training has encountered serious difficulties in deploying these model. The integration in higher education had a positive impact on objective dimensions of professionalisation, but also intensified the academic training (Lopes, 2006, A. Pereira, 2008) increasing the gap between training knowledge and professional knowledge (Blin, 1997). Research results (Lopes, Pereira, Ferreira, Silva, & Sá, 2007, Lima & Lopes, 2009) indicate that this academisation is due to the representation of trainers as being teachers in higher education, or rather, to the identities of trainers as trainers. The aim of this project is to identify factors in the initial training of teachers and nurses as helping professionals, which may contribute to a more adequate training in terms of its professional character. Specifically, it aims at: acquiring knowledge about the identities of trainers as situated identities; building knowledge about teaching and nursing as helping professions; making proposals of training modalities for trainers and of organisational forms of training. The project lasts for 24 months and is developed as a multi-case study involving a training course for primary teachers (ESE-Porto) and a course in nursing education (ESENF-Viana do Castelo). In each case it is intended to characterise the situated identities of trainers and the training climate. Situated identities relate to the definitions, roles and identifications in the concrete work situation (Hewitt, 1991). They are therefore also the expression of their own situations as interpreted by the subjects. In order to study situational identities it is necessary to characterise and to relate them to the dynamic structural dimensions of these situations. We define training climate as the characteristics of the contexts of training (training schools, cooperating institutions and their relations) that may interfere with the situated identities of trainers (Lopes, et al., 2007). The project is carried out through 10 tasks, one of these concerning itself with research and systematisation of literature and another with dissemination and disclosure. In the core tasks - relative to data collection and analysis - the team is organised into two sub-teams according to the qualifications and skills of its members: the trainers’ identities of sub-team (ITS) and the training climate sub-team (CTS). Each sub-team is composed of specialists in nursing and teaching. These core tasks are preceded by a task of organising the team and making exploratory contacts with the courses of study. The work of the ITS will result in typologies, their mapping and emergent contextual factors, whilst that of the CTS will result in ideal-types and associated factors. In a following task, these partial results will be interknit so that they meet the objectives of the research.