Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

The Group as a Source of Development: Rethinking Professional Development in a Collaborative Perspective

Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

The Group as a Source of Development: Rethinking Professional Development in a Collaborative Perspective

Article excerpt

Initial Considerations

This paper presents research that has been developed at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (State University of Campinas - Brazil) to investigate the professional development of psychologists and other professionals who work with educational demands, through a collaborative work group. The paper begins with a brief discussion of Brazilian Educational Psychology and the professional development field, followed by a discussion of concepts of cultural-historical theory as analytic tools for data analysis. The second section presents the research methodology and research data analysis.

Brazilian educational psychology and professional development topic: A brief contextualization

In Brazil, psychology is a relatively new profession; it only gained legal status in 1962 (Law 4.119/62). Nevertheless, Antunes (2007) indicates that psychology, as a subject, has existed in the country since the colonization period, around the 18th century, when the themes of emotions, childhood education and human behaviour were discussed in publications such as books, monographs and theses. During those times, psychological knowledge was strongly related to the educational field. Consequently, schools and other educational institutions became an important working area for psychologists in Brazil. Unfortunately, extensive use of intelligence and others psychological tests was common practice, with less attention being paid to broader social and cultural aspects of learning problems (Patto, 1984; Pfromm Netto, 1996). Since the later decades of 20th century, Brazilians psychologists have been questioning the perspective, which considers psychological phenomenon apart from it's social and cultural context, in order to develop a new approach based on a critical and contextualized viewpoint (Patto, 1996, 2005; Machado & Souza, 1997; Bock, 1999; Tanamachi, Proença & Rocha 2000; Martínez, 2007; Meira, 2012; Guzzo, 2014).

Currently, Brazilian psychologists are gaining credibility in different settings, such as health institutions and social services. However, they are becoming increasingly separate from schools. It is still common to find psychologists who are professionally unprepared to perform within this context and, furthermore, school principals do not always understand the role of psychologists in education settings. Nevertheless, educational demands exist in psychologists' daily work in a range of contexts (Tanamachi & Meira, 2003). Thus, a psychologist who works in a health or social service will often assist with cases related to educational issues. Moreover, a critical and contextualized perspective in educational psychology is gaining increasing strength and many psychologists are working not from an individualistic point of view, but in collaboration with teachers and other educational professionals. This indicates the relevance of and the urgency to improve psychologists' professional development in order to deal with educational demands.

After this brief contextualization, the question arises: "What do we mean by professional development"? Professional development is a complex process, which is not restricted to undergraduate courses, embracing the entire professional trajectory. Regardless of the background, every professional is constantly learning, considering that the initial professional education cannot embrace all challenges demanded by a future job (Aragäo, 2010).

Professional development is a term related to teachers' continued education. Nóvoa (1995, 2009) argues that teachers' training is usually indifferent to educators' contributions and dependent on external experts to improve professional practice. According to this author, there is a massive lucrative market related to teachers' training, through seminars, courses and activities, ignoring teachers' knowledge and capacity to deal with practice issues. Nóvoa (2009) indicates that the only way to overcome this situation is to arrange practices in a collaborative perspective, based on sharing and dialogue about professional performances. …

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