01 SES 04 C, The Impact of Teacher Professional Development Programmes
The aim of the paper is to focus on professional development for teachers through interventions. The study was part of a larger intervention study carried out in Norway and founded by the Norwegian Research Council. 10 lower secondary schools were involved, with 40 math teachers and approximately 1000 9th grade students. The project was initiated and academically supported by a research group consisting of seven researchers from four teacher education institutions in Norway.
Every principal had to approve their school’s participation in the research project and commit to be actively involved during the intervention period. Each school also selected one teacher who was supposed to be a leader of the schools participating math teachers and to act as a link between the research-group, the principal and the math-team.
The current study is a case-study based on experiences from two of the involved schools. The research questions are:
How is the professional learning process through the intervention experienced by three different stakeholders: Teachers, contact persons and principals in two schools?
What are differences and similarities between the two schools’ experiences?
Through the current 7 months’ intervention period math teachers were expected to develop what we describe as responsive pedagogy through three intervention cycles of two or three weeks. The concept responsive pedagogy is defined as the recursive dialogue between the learner's internal feedback and external phases of self-regulation; forethoughts, monitoring and reflections (Smith, Gamlem, Sandal & Engelsen, 2016). The first cycle focused on feedback, the second on self-regulation and the third on self-efficacy. Simultaneously, pupils were supposed to be taught how to give accurate information to their teachers concerning their learning and progression. The math teachers were free to decide what kind of learning activities and practice they chose for the intervention periods. For the purpose of discussing experiences and to document the learning process, teachers were supposed to use logs, observation of colleagues’ lessons and videos. The two schools in each district were closely connected as learning partners and collaborated with each other and a mentor from the research group.
In the meta-study “Teacher Professional Learning and development” (Timperley, Wilson, Barrar and Fung, 2007) 97 studies of the factors that influence teachers’ development of personal professional competence highlighted by students’ learning-outcome are presented. Seven characteristics can describe possible effective contexts supporting student learning. First, time for learning, and second the presence of external expertise. The third point is enhanced teachers’ engagement, whilst ongoing didactic discussions for teachers are mentioned as the forth. The fifth point states that it is more important for teachers to participate in a community of practice than where the location of this community might be. Sixth, there a connection between the topic of competence development and trends and tendencies expressed through political documents and research. The seventh point highlighted by Timperley et al. (2007) is leadership in schools where teachers’ professional development and students’ learning should be taken care of. Meta-studies like Timperley et al.’s (2007) study are valuable as their conclusions are supported by massive empirical data. One of their weaknesses might be that nuances in the individual studies are invisible and the review study tells little about details in the seven characteristics and in what framework they work best.
In the intervention study the teachers were not asked beforehand if they wanted to participate. The question is how they responded to the intervention and how the intervention influenced their professional development related to responsive pedagogy and Timperley et al’s seven characteristics.
The 10 lower secondary schools were selected by representatives from the research group. Two schools represented by the principal in each district were asked to participate and all the schools responded positively. Through the intervention period one of the representatives from the research group had regular meetings with the two schools in his/her district in order to support the schools in their learning process. The two schools met three times during the intervention period. All the schools also congregated three times. At these meetings the teachers shared experiences and listened to lectures concerning responsive pedagogy and planned further actions for their classrooms. In the current study two of the ten schools are selected. During the intervention period data was collected regularly. All the teachers were interviewed in focus-groups before and after the intervention. The contact persons were interviewed by means of semi-structured interviews four times during the intervention period. By the end of the period also the principals were interviewed. The interviews were transcribed and the two researchers are currently working on the analysis. We first make a matrix based on a thematic analysis. Afterwards we will analyse the data using an interpretative approach (Hatch, 2002). For each step we first will conduct the analysis separately, then together. The process is inspired by a hermeneutic understanding, which is a matter of trying to understand the whole while at the time reconsidering that whole (Gadamer, 2004/1975). The analysis is based on the seven characteristics developed by Timperley et al (2007).
We are currently working on the analysis of the data and are not able to report any concrete results yet. Preliminary analysis from the main study shows that pupils have experienced a change from individual to collaborative learning activities. Many of them work in pairs and are supposed to discuss with their peers before they ask their teachers. They also report that they are given more precise feedback from teachers, that they have more control and less anxiety as pupils. When it comes to the teachers the preliminary results from the whole group (40 teachers) shows that teachers claim to be more conscious on the way they act in the classroom. They ask more open questions, give responsive feedback and are concerned with creating a more confident learning environment. The preliminary results show, however, that there are large differences within and between schools when it comes to learning outcome for pupils and teachers. Results from the current case-study will hopefully add to the knowledge about reasons for these differences by focusing on the professional learning process through the intervention seen from different perspectives inside two different schools.
Litterature Gadamer, H-G., 2004/1975. Truth and method. London, New York: Continuum. Hatch, A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. State University of New York Press, New York Smith, K. S.,Gamlem, A.K. Sandal, K.S. Engelsen. 2016. Educating for the future: The use of responsive pedagogy- a conceptual framework, Educational Assessment & Evaluation Review Article Cogent Education, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1227021 Timperley, H., A. Wilson, H. Barrar, and I. Fung. 2007. Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES), International Academy vi-220.
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