Academic journal article Education

Teacher's Experience from Collaborative Design: Reported Impact on Professional Development

Academic journal article Education

Teacher's Experience from Collaborative Design: Reported Impact on Professional Development

Article excerpt

Introduction

This study focuses on the impact of participation in a school-based teacher professional development project, and how the teachers perceive the impact on their professional development. TPD is in this article positioned within the context of teachers' engagement in teaching and change in teaching practice.

Teacher Professional Development

A definition of TPD given by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2009) is that it is a continuing activity, which includes training, practice and feedback, and provides sufficient time and follow-up support. In this study of collaborative design, teachers created new teaching practices in their department. The collaborative process of design provides opportunities for teachers to reflect on the intentions and implications of a change in teaching practice. Professional development needs to be concerned with social aspects of learning (Greeno & Middle School Mathematics through Applications Project Group, 1998; Engestrom, 1987). TPD needs are to be concerned with social aspects of learning, spread across individuals and actions, and perceived as directly meaningful to teachers' practice (Svendsen, 2015; Voogt, Laferriere, Breuleux, Itow, Hickey, & McKenney, 2015).

TPD is placed within the context of lifelong learning by the literature of educational research (Villegas-Reimers, 2003; Svendsen, 2015; Pokhrei & Behera, 2016). Teacher development is an on-going process through which teachers keep growing with their own voluntary effort (Pokhrei & Behera, 2016). TPD usually begins with an understanding of teachers' needs at their school and classroom (Watson, 2015). There has been a shift from teachers being passive participants to becoming active learners. According to Schneider & Plasman (2011) the most influential teaching and learning experiences are based on inquiries in teachers' own classrooms. Successful TPD outcomes are found when development efforts are made together with teachers instead of being designed as doing things to teachers (e.g. Clarke & Hollingsworth, 2002; Nilsson, 2014). This shift can therefore be distinguished from a technical-rational-top-down approach to CPD, towards a more cultural-individual interactive and newer approach to the professional development of teachers (Caena, 2011).

This article will begin by outlining the theoretical framework of the study. Secondly, the TPD project and the teachers will be presented, followed by an introduction to the concept of IBST. Thirdly, the methods used to study TPD are outlined, before moving on to results and illustrations from practice, which are analyzed within the theoretical framework. The article concludes with a discussion and some final comments on how learning by collaborative design can enhance TPD.

Theoretical framework

The theoretical framework for the study is within socio-cultural perspectives on learning and knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978). This article views learning as a natural socio-cultural process that gradually changes both the participant's individuality and the surrounding environment. From a sociocultural perspective, learning is perceived as being embedded in social and cultural contexts, and best understood as a form of participation in those contexts. The theoretical approach emphasizes that knowledge is constructed by an individual through active thinking in the form of selective attention, organization of information, and integration with or replacement of existing knowledge; and that social interaction is necessary to create shared meaning (Cakir, 2008). The social environments are seen as decisive for how the individual learns and develops (Postholm, 2012).

Teacher learning by collaborative design is within the situative perspective a conduit from routines and problem-solving performances to developing understandings (Voogt et al., 2015). New problems are acknowledged and diverse understandings are exchanged, leading to mutual theoretical development and learning practices (Greeno, 2011). …

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