Secondary teacher experiences of professional development : a focus on sustained application to practice

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Wright, Martin
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Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Maurice-Takerei, Lisa
Cardno, Carol
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
professional development
secondary teachers
qualitative research
New Zealand
professional learning and development (PLD)
Wright, M. (2015). Secondary teacher experiences of professional development: A focus on sustained application to practice. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Despite considerable growth in the theory of professional learning and development (PLD), improvements to teacher practice often remain inconsistent or short lived. A review of literature suggests that understanding how teachers learn will need to address how teachers make sense of new theories that confront their beliefs. Sensemaking involves teachers negotiating new theory to suit their situation, and is influenced by the professional communities in which they practice. Qualitative data was gathered by way of individual interviews of six teachers, and two managers responsible for professional learning, in two randomly selected Auckland state-funded secondary schools. Official documents from each school were also analysed. The findings indicate that PLD programmes that promoted sustained improvements to practice gave specific attention to establishing a culture of professional learning based on the teaching-as-inquiry model. Structured staged activities, the primacy of evidence, duration and professional interactions all encouraged teachers to enact changes to practice, which in turn challenged their pre-existing assumptions. PLD programmes are more likely to achieve sustained improvements to practice if they promote opportunities for teachers to negotiate the theories that they apply in their practice, enable teachers to confront their personal pre-existing beliefs through enactment of changed practice, and situate these processes in professional communities.
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