Understanding teachers' professional development : an investigation of teachers' learning and their learning contexts
The focus of my research is teachers' planned professional development experience and the effect of context on teachers' learning and changes to practice. It seeks to understand effective approaches to teachers' learning, contribute to knowledge and identify implications for practitioners and policy makers. The research begins with an investigation into young people's and teachers' perceptions of effective classroom work. A significant mis-match is found between what is experienced and what they perceive is effective . This is analysed in terms of inhibiting forces and contradictions influencing teachers' practice. An in-service programme is designed as a change strategy for the teachers involved. The research findings suggest this is only partially successful in bringing about change. From a critique of theoretical perspectives of professional development an expanded approach is created. This approach forms the basis of another programme for teachers which includes working collaboratively and integrating personal and professional learning. The research findings demonstrate that this in itself is not enough to bring about changes to professional practice. A typology of teachers' planned development experiences is created and a set of hypotheses used to investigate teachers' personal constructs of the effectiveness of professional experiences for change to professional practice . The significance of the learning context and subjective experiences emerge. This leads to the redesign of the programme to include an explicit focus on learning and the use of action research to bring about change within teachers' own contexts. The research continues to focus on contextual influences in organisational learning. It analyses the effects of a change that contributes to organisational learning by tracking one organisation's revision of its appraisal scheme. Key conclusions emerge: teachers' learning, the processes of learning and the organisational context have strong influences on one other. Effective professional learning for positive outcomes requires both a multi-dimensional and context specific view of learning.