Examining the Effectiveness of Teacher Professional Development in an Authentic Learning Environment as Part of a Whole-School Initiative for School Improvement.

Year: 2010

Author: Bell, Lisa, Aldridge, Jill M., Fraser, Berry J.

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper reports a case study of one school which used teacher action research as part of a school-wide initiative to improve the classroom learning environment. At this school, a total of 35 senior secondary teachers were involved in the study over a three-year period. Each of these teachers selected one or two classes and used feedback data, gathered from their students, to make improvements to the classroom learning environment utilising an action research process. The study involved a mixed-methods approach that included questionnaire responses, document analysis and interviews. A total of 628 student responses from 55 classes were collected for analysis over the three years.

The paper examines first, how an action research activity, at the whole-school level, contributed to school improvement efforts over a three-year period. The paper also reports how one teacher involved in the action research activity used student feedback to guide improvements in her secondary classroom. Finally, the paper examines the use of student feedback reports as one form of data used to monitor the effectiveness of school-wide initiatives.

The findings indicate, firstly, that a whole-school approach to teacher professional development contributes to building a school culture that values continuous learning and which encourages teachers to trial strategies consistent with a whole-school focus on teaching and learning. Secondly, teacher action research using student feedback provides an authentic learning experience that gives teachers the opportunity to monitor, reflect and act to improve what they do in the classroom.