An exploration of an in-service programme as a means of the professional development of teachers : a case study
This study examined a two-week in-service training agenda as an aspect of teachers' professional development using a two-stage case study design. The case study site was a private school in Lebanon. Lebanon is involved in educational reform and therefore the examination of the entrenched two-week in-service agenda was timely and enlightening. The case study identified factors that contribute to meaningful professional development and identified the parameters within which professional development can function. The study employed a multi-method design in which key constructs were examined using more than one methodology. The multiple methods included ethnographic observation of the in-service programme, semi-structured observation of a purposive sample of teachers teaching, semi-structured interviews of all senior management personnel, as well as a purposive maximum variation sample of teachers, a purposive convenient sample of two student groups and review of relevant documents. This rigorous approach addressed validity issues often associated with case study design as well as enabled the findings of this study to potentially be utilised in policy formulation or used to establish theoretical insight. A constant comparison method of data analysis was employed to categorise the data and generate themes. Specifically, the study asserts that for an in-service agenda to function as meaningful professional development it must be embedded into the school routine, incorporate ways in which adult learners learn best; be practical, transparent, include new and relevant content, be on-going and include follow-up and critical reflection. The study also discovered that the management of the process is critical and that leadership attributes of a transformational and distributive nature facilitate the process. Finally, the study also asserts that the organisational structure of the school plays a vital role in the on-going, embedded professional growth of teachers. The study maintains that organisational structures should be conceived with the goals and vision of the institution in mind and not adopted for habitual or traditional reasons.