University Of Tasmania
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Teaching the teachers : an examination of an inservice program and its effects in the classroom

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posted on 2023-05-26, 23:34 authored by Gardner, Caroline Jane
An expectation of professional teachers is that inservice education is undertaken, on an on-going basis. This is particularly important at a time when society is undergoing major technological, social, economic or cultural changes, which requires teachers to play new and expanded roles. Policy direction in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America has led to school-based management, which, in a large part, means that inservice programs are budgeted for, and managed by, individual schools. It would seem important to ensure that the resources directed to professional development from school budgets are used for inservice models and implementation processes which achieve intended outcomes in terms of improved quality of teaching and learning, The purpose of this study was to conduct an indepth investigation of a commercially provided inservice program that enjoyed a positive reputation among teachers and which was in high demand by schools. No record could be found of a critical analysis of commercial inservice programs prior to this study. It was considered valuable to scrutinise closely a particular program in order to identify the qualities which made it popular, and how teachers utilised skills and knowledge presented in the workshop sessions. An inservice program, Teaching for Effective Learning, developed and presented by a private Australian education consultant, Dr. Julia Atkin was the focus of this study. Using document analysis and observations the study first examined the relationship between the theory and practice of the inservice program, and between the conceptual structure of the program and the literature on teaching and learning. Secondly, the study examined the impact of the inservice program in terms of implementation in schools. A naturalistic inquiry was deemed appropriate for the study of implementation, using interviews, a questionnaire, observations of teachers in their classrooms, teacher journals and student work, as data gathering methods. Three groups of teachers, initially comprising a group of forty-six, who represented all those who had attended the Teaching for Effective Learning workshops in Tasmania between 1991 and 1993 were used in the study. Data were analysed in terms of a final group of thirty-one. Results indicated that the Teaching for Effective Learning workshops were held in high regard, as was Atkin as a presenter. However it was found that the theoretical underpinning of the workshops, Atkin's Framework for Effective Teaching, while in print and in presentation, encompasses most dimensions found in the literature on teaching and learning, did not provide adequate structures for teachers to be able to fully implement it in the classroom. Problems of transfer of skills and knowledge learned in the workshops was compounded by a lack of administrative or collegial support for those attempting implementation. There was a high level of transfer of at least three strategies taught in the workshop, though there were approximately eighteen concepts and strategies taught. This raised issues of why some were implemented rather than others; whether those used had more practical application, were seen as more valuable in improving student learning, or the conceptual underpinnings of the strategies were clearer. The data also indicated that, in her presentation, Atkin paid attention to those aspects shown in the literature to be important for adult learners, and she brought together a range of teaching and learning theories, while presenting them in language, and with processes, which were meaningful to teachers. Atkin also made explicit the craft knowledge of teachers and used that knowledge as a basis for most of what was taught in the workshops. One important outcome related to Atkin providing teachers with a 'language' that they could use to describe classroom processes and practices. The data also indicated that there was a congruence between Atkin's theory and the way in which she presented her workshops. This research has implications for educational policy, at school and system level, regarding cost effectiveness of inservice education for teachers and tertiary training programs. Without attention to those factors which lead to improved teaching and learning, through effective transfer of skills and knowledge, schools will continue to expend large sums of money on inservice with little improvement in student learning.


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Copyright 1996 the Author ‚Äö- The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania at Launceston, 1996. Includes bibliographical references

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