ERG SES D 07, Professional Development and Education
The purpose of this study was to examine Physical Education (PE) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision for primary school teachers in Cyprus. Grounded in the existing effective and, ineffective CPD literature, the aim was to understand and analyse the experiences of Cypriot primary school teachers, taking into account unique contextual factors, and to contribute to the international literature on supporting teachers’ learning. The study was conducted from an interpretive perspective drawing on multi-layered theories of situated learning (Borko, 2004) and ecological understanding of agency (Biesta & Tedder, 2007) to ensure that the views of teachers and CPD providers inform future policy and practice. In addition to addressing a gap in knowledge about PE-CPD in the Cypriot context, this research also offers new insights into the nature of effective and ineffective CPD.
On a global level, much attention has been focused on teachers’ CPD in research (De Vries et al., 2014) and at the policy level on organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Commission (OECD, 2014) and national governments. It is widely accepted that the quality of teachers, including CPD, is central to improving the quality of students’ learning in schools (Darling-Hammond & Lieberman, 2012). Despite this recognition, however, there are persistent concerns about the quality of CPD provision (Schleicher, 2011).
In the context of PE, similar questions remain about the quality of CPD provision (Armour & Makopoulou, 2012). Indeed, a wealth of research evidence suggest that primary school teachers are concerned about teaching PE, with a number of challenges reported around initial training, personal competence and CPD (Tsangaridou, 2014). It is somewhat obvious to state that PE-CPD provision should meet teachers’ learning needs, but evidence suggests that often, it does not (Jess et al., 2014; Patton & Parker, 2014).
In the Cypriot context, the importance of CPD for teachers has been recognised (Karagiorgi, 2012). Throughout the conduct of this research study, the Cypriot educational system was in a dynamic reform phase, including a new emphasis on understanding the ‘important role of physical education and giving it the attention it deserves in terms of effective development and support of their staff’ (MOEC, 2013, p.412). It is also important to note that the global financial crisis impacted Cyprus strongly during the research period, and this contextual factor is reflected in the data. Additionally, although policy documents state the importance of PE, little evidence exists on the ways in which PE-CPD could be designed to meet teachers’ learning needs. It must also be highlighted that in Cyprus, PE in primary schools is taught by generalist teachers who are responsible for all areas of the curriculum. There is scant literature dedicated to the field of PE in Cyprus, leading Tsangaridou (2012) to argue for further research on this topic.
The research question addressed in this research was: Does PE-CPD meets the career-long learning needs of primary school teachers in Cyprus?
The sub-questions were:
What can be learnt from the research literature about 'effective' and 'ineffective' models of CPD for professionals, teachers and PE teachers?
What learning theories underpin different models of CPD?
What is the CPD opportunities’ nature offered to PE teachers in Cyprus throughout their careers?
What evidence is there to suggest that the current model of CPD offered to PE teachers in Cyprus is either 'effective' or 'ineffective', and why?
What would an 'effective' model of CPD look like for PE teachers in Cyprus and how could it be implemented?
What are the implications of this research for PE teachers in Cyprus and in other comparable international contexts? How can this research inform CPD policy?
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