Teachers’ professional learning: perspectives and reflections of practising teachers

Loneragan, Damian James (2016). Teachers’ professional learning: perspectives and reflections of practising teachers. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c194


This thesis uses a case study to explore teachers’ professional learning in one secondary school in the south of England.
An interpretive, qualitative case study approach was adopted. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and staff biographies to explore the key research questions. These investigated how the teachers perceive their own learning and development, what teachers think they learn and develop and what activities impact teachers’ learning and development.

A review of the conceptual frameworks focused on three different areas. Firstly, a consideration of how teachers and adults define their own learning. Secondly teachers’ knowledge and skills base were explored; looking in particular at what authors argue constitute teachers’ knowledge. Finally, there was an overview of the varied activities and experiences that affect and impact teachers’ learning.

Analysis of the data indicated that secondary school teachers perceive their learning through the lens of acquisition and a new perspective described by participants as ‘developmental’. The teachers in the study also showed that those who had been teaching for longer had different perceptions of learning from those with less experience.

A teacher’s knowledge base was considered to consist of knowledge and skills related to the school, subject and personal efficacy of the teacher. The content of teachers’ knowledge, however, was influenced by external factors such as policy and social changes in education.

Finally, the study found that teachers learnt from a wide range of formal and informal activities. Formal activities tended to be less successful if the aims were not shared and the teachers felt the learning was imposed. Informal activities were more successful as they were normally instigated by staff with their own professional development in mind. Drawing together these findings the study proposes a new model of teacher learning.

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