Changing teacher professional learning: Transitioning from train-the trainer to participatory action research

Year: 2008

Author: Cloonan, Anne

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Diffusion-adoption professional learning models which position teachers as compliant technicians of policy and practices are limited in their long term effects on teacher professionalism. In contrast, co-researching models of professional learning hold the potential to engage teachers and researchers in explorations of mutual concern which impact on professionalism and contribute to development of both theory and practice.

This article describes professional learning within the context of an Australian state department of education during a period of reform. The contextual influences and design of a collaborative, film-driven participatory action research design which explored teacher learning and application of multiliteracies theory are explored. A spiral of cycles of action research incorporated engagement with multiliteracies theory and collaborative planning; filming of teacher classroom ‘action’ and reflective interviews; collaborative observation of and reflection on the resultant filmic artefacts.

The filmic artefacts offered rich multimodal examples of teaching practices, incorporating visual, audio, gestural and spatial classroom information, far beyond the purely linguistic recounts and descriptions which characterise many professional development workshops. Incorporation of collaborative filmic research techniques enabled multimodal observation of teaching practices across a number of sites, with observation unrestricted by temporal or physical parameters