Towards a New Model for Effective Professional Teacher Development

Year: 2010

Author: Tsolakis, Kim, Cornford, Ian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The intense demands currently being made upon teachers by governments and the community to upgrade their teaching skills to produce superior student learning outcomes require effective professional development programs underpinned by appropriate models. Results from a question in a recent survey of NSW teachers and administrators as part of an Australian Government Quality Teaching Program project revealed that many were dissatisfied with the current approach to professional development, that is probably best characterized as the ‘knowledge dump’ approach. First this paper briefly outlines the current, politically challenging context in which Australian governments do not appear to understand the importance of effective teacher professional development to achieve their objectives and the need for appropriate models. Second it notes relevant issues that will not be specifically covered in this paper. Third it draws upon the psychology of learning literature with its empirical basis to present the outline of a new model. The areas of skill learning, development of expertise as well as the general theories of learning, especially the social cognitive theories of Bandura, along with the key concept of transfer of learning, are drawn upon and argued as required to underpin a more effective model. Overall, these theories and constructs indicate that much more careful planning of professional development programs is required, with these underpinned by adequate practice and feedback, and supported by the collegial and management systems that should exist in all effective schools.