Teachers’ Perceptions of Effective Professional Development

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2013-12

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Abstract

This qualitative study examines practicing educators’ views and perceptions on effective professional development. The researcher explores the experiences of five educators at various points on the experience continuum and questions what constitutes a meaningful learning experience for each one. The framework of this study follows the protocols outlined by Connelly and Clandinin (1990) for experienced based research through narrative. The foundation for this research rests of four theoretical pillars: Adult Learning Theory (Houle, 1972), Motivational Theory (Maslow, 1943), Reflective Practices (Schon, 1987), and Teacher Knowledge (Cochran & Lytle, 1999).
After an extensive review of the current literature, noticeable omissions from the current understanding of professional development for teachers were found that set the stage for the following research questions guiding this study: 1) What elements of professional development do practicing teachers find effective and beneficial? 2) Do teachers at different points in their career report needing the same or different qualities in their learning experiences? 3) What might the researcher come to understand through narrative case studies of the participants and their insights on effective professional development?
The need for this study to address these questions is that annually millions of dollars are spent on teacher professional development in order to improve teacher pedagogy in hopes of improving student achievement; however, achievement scores remain stagnant and there is little evidence that the current system of professional development is working. Though there are a plethora of studies that provide quantitative data regarding certain elements of professional development (e.g. time needed, curriculum design), those studies provide no context from the teachers to help others reproduce the results. This study allowed teachers to provide a context through narrative based on their experiences.

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Keywords

Professional development, Narrative inquiry, Teacher professional development

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