01 SES 06 B, Evaluating Teachers and the Impact of Professional Development
Effective teacher professional learning is fundamental for the ongoing support and motivation of teachers. Collaboration between teachers is critical to the effectiveness of their professional learning. In fact, this agentive collaboration between teachers is an important distinction that can be made between teacher professional learning and professional development where their learning is dictated by the provider. Effective teacher professional learning contributes to teachers’ sense of collective efficacy.
Collective efficacy is an extension of the construct of self-efficacy from the broader theoretical framework of social cognition. Collective efficacy is defined as “the extent to which people believe they can work together effectively to accomplish their shared goals” (Maddux & Gosselin, 2012, p.214). Social cognition assumes reciprocal causality exists between a person and their environment, “people respond cognitively, emotionally, and behaviourally to environmental events. Also, through cognition people can exercise control over their own behaviour, which then influences not only the environment but also their cognitive, emotional, and biological states” (Maddux & Gosselin, 2012, p.199). This reciprocal causality has positive implications for teacher collective efficacy as it creates a virtuous cycle of improvement where enhanced collective efficacy contributes to student achievement which then further strengthens collective efficacy (Roger D. Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000)
The four key motivational sources of collective efficacy beliefs are mastery and vicarious experiences, social persuasion and affective states. A positive relationship between these motivational constructs and collaborative professional learning has been found (Durksen, Klassen, & Daniels, 2017). More research is needed beyond these measures to examine what this actual collaboration looks like in practice (Durksen et al., 2017) as we know it is effective but need to know more on why it is effective. This research might provide clues as to how perceptions of group capability “might be changed to strengthen organizational culture” (Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2004, p.10).
There is not a clear answer in the literature on teacher professional learning to the question of why collaboration is so important. More is known about which design features are reported to enhance professional development. These core features include an integrated content focus, active learning and longer duration (Desimone, 2009). Kennedy (2016), however, argues strongly against such a typography of teacher professional learning that she described as a laundry list of design features. Instead, Kennedy (2016) advocates for a classification of professional learning based on a program’s theory of action as it has a stronger empirical relationship with program efficacy. This study regards both classifications as offering merit and sought to gather evidence that would allow this debate to go beyond a simple binary choice.
Collective teacher efficacy has not been commonly associated with a theory of action for teacher professional learning as it has been predominately employed as a measure of the health of a teacher professional learning culture. The evidence linking collective teacher efficacy to improved student outcomes is so strong that it should be regarded as both a measure and a guiding framework for teacher professional learning. However, what is missing in the literature is an explication of the processes that create the conditions for effective collaboration.
It has been argued that qualitative studies are needed to help deepen understanding of the consequences of CTE (Donohoo, 2018). We endorse this argument but also contend that further qualitative analysis is required to deepen the understanding of the antecedents of CTE. This paper focuses on the antecedents of collective teacher efficacy as they are manifest in the practices of teacher professional learning.
This paper reports the data in a larger study which focuses on an exploratory investigation of designing a professional learning model to assist teachers to get to the instructional core of primary science in Australia. The context for the study was a primary school located in Sydney, NSW. 12 primary school teachers voluntarily participated in a teacher professional learning program in primary science. Primary science is an area of the curriculum where it has been claimed that there is not a keen sense of collective efficacy among teachers (Nowicki, Sullivan-Watts, Shim, Young, & Pockalny, 2013). As context is crucial, a case study approach was used that examined the particular location and a professional learning model for teachers. Yin (2003) defined a case study as an investigation of a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life setting. Many researchers (eg. Merriam, 2002; Yin, 2003) acknowledge that a case study is appropriate when investigating what is happening with a social context. In this study, the researcher intends to make a thorough and intensive exploration of a contemporary issue (professional learning experience and teacher collective efficacy ), within a real-life setting (the contexts of in-service teacher professional experience in Australia). More specifically, a case study design was applied in order to provide rich data from the teachers and students. Using this design allowed the researcher to investigate phenomena in-depth within their real-life contexts, this study provided a rich and varied set of circumstances to investigate (Merriam, 2002; Yin, 2003). In this study, data were collected from multiple sources, including classroom observations, interviews, field notes, observation of the PD programs, group teacher discussions to provide triangulation. Evidence from interviews as primary data was used in each single case. Audio and video-recorders were employed to support the primary data. Data from observations, field-notes, and reflective journals were employed to support the primary data We undertook a thorough process of data analysis that involved thematic coding (Yamagata-Lynch, 2010). The theoretical framework of teacher collective efficacy informed the coding as both authors sought to identify the antecedents of teacher collective efficacy evident in the participants’ comments at the focus groups and interviews. These themes were moderated through discussion between the authors and an active search for disconfirming evidence.
There are four motivational constructs that contribute to teacher collective efficacy identified in the literature: Direct experience, vicarious experience, social persuasion and affective states. This study found that direct and vicarious experiences were the dominant modes of learning in the teacher professional learning examined in this study. More importantly, there was evidence that collective teacher efficacy is generated through collaborative discourse between teachers in what Habermas termed the ideal speech situation (Habermas, 1970). Finally, the false binary between program design and a theory of action in teacher professional learning is exposed by the evidence produced in this study. In fact, both are needed for teacher collective efficacy to be generated in teacher professional learning. Thoughtful program design is required to create the necessary learning environment for the theory of action to be enacted. To use a biological metaphor, the program design is the necessary DNA that allows the theory of action to be expressed in the teacher professional learning environment.
Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181-199. Donohoo, J. (2018). Collective teacher efficacy research: Productive patterns of behaviour and other positive consequences. In (pp. 1-23). Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media. Durksen, T. L., Klassen, R. M., & Daniels, L. M. (2017). Motivation and collaboration: The keys to a developmental framework for teachers’ professional learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 53-66. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2017.05.011 Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W. K., & Hoy, A. W. (2000). Collective Teacher Efficacy: Its Meaning, Measure, and Impact on Student Achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 479-507. Goddard, R. D., Hoy, W. K., & Hoy, A. W. (2004). Collective efficacy beliefs: Theoretical developments, empirical evidence, and future directions. Educational Researcher, 33(3), 3-13. Habermas, J. (1970). Towards a theory of communicative competence. Inquiry, 13(1-4), 360-375. doi:10.1080/00201747008601597 Kennedy, M. M. (2016). How Does Professional Development Improve Teaching? Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 945-980. doi:10.3102/0034654315626800 Maddux, J. E., & Gosselin, J. T. (2012). Self-Eficacy. In M. R. Leary & J. P. Tangney (Eds.), Handbook of Self and Identity. Second Edition (Second ed., pp. 198-224). New York: The Guildford Press. Merriam, S. B. (2002). Qualitative research in practice : Examples for discussion and analysis (1st ed.). San Francisco Jossey-Bass. Nowicki, B. L., Sullivan-Watts, B., Shim, M. K., Young, B., & Pockalny, R. (2013). Factors influencing science content accuracy in elementary inquiry science lessons. Research in Science Education, 43(3), 1135-1154. Yamagata-Lynch, L. C. (2010). Activity Systems Analysis Methods: Understanding Complex Learning Environments. In. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-6321-5_7 Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
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