Early career teachers' changes to practice, confidence and understandings in cooperative learning: a case study doctoral project update

Year: 2008

Author: Ferguson-Patrick, Kate

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teacher retention is an issue in many education systems, and retaining early career teachers is even more problematic. There is a need for support and professional learning for beginning teachers. This paper explores results from classroom observations and interviews with two early career teacher participants after professional development in cooperative learning (CL). The classroom observations focussed on the implementation of cooperative learning, with follow-up interviews focussed on understandings of practice. Difference was found in the impact of professional learning between the two teachers (an early career teacher in her third year and another in her first year of teaching). Whilst both teachers made gains, the more experienced teacher made greater gains in understanding and practice, while the inexperienced teacher, improved in knowledge and practice but also struggled with other factors related to beginning teaching. The prevailing culture of the school also had a huge impact on the practice of these teachers. It is important to have a focus on pedagogy to enhance early career teachers' professional accomplishment, as well as maintain the enthusiasm that they portray in these early years, if we are to retain quality teachers in the profession.