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


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Gardner, Caroline Jane 1996 , 'Teaching the teachers : an examination of an inservice program and its effects in the classroom', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Gardner, Caroline Jane
Keywords: Teachers
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1996 the Author – 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).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania at Launceston, 1996. Includes bibliographical references

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