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Title: Professional learning: teachers’ narratives of experience. It is what you do and the way that you do it…
Authors: Chappell, Anne
Advisors: Bradford S
Alldred P
Keywords: Continuing professional development;Policy;Professionalism;Teacher identity;Policy subject-policy actor
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: Professional learning, commonly referred to in policy and practice as continuing professional development, is presented to teachers as both a requirement and an entitlement in current education policy (Gewirtz, 2002; Ball, 2003). This work explores the ways in which professional learning is experienced by three teachers, and the meanings they attribute to those experiences. The study adopts a narrative approach to these accounts (Clandinin, 2013; Clandinin and Connelly, 1996; 1998; 2004) and is underpinned by the recognition of the complexity in the interplay between the individual teacher and their social context specifically focusing on “the relationship between the state, the ideologies of professionalism, and lived interiority” (Hey and Bradford, 2004: 693). The methodology was developed to overcome the problem of policy and aspects of practice that fail to focus on the effective involvement and engagement of teachers in professional learning: the teachers have become “missing persons” (Evans, 1999: i). The research process placed the meaning made by the teachers of their past experiences, and the way they understood them in the present, at the centre of the research (Kelchtermans, 2009; MacLure, 1993). Data were collected as part of a collaborative process with teachers who shared and analysed their narratives of professional learning through a series of research conversations. The teachers gave accounts of the people and incidents that they understood to be significant in influencing their professional learning, in relation to their expectations of themselves and of professionals and people more generally. In doing so they drew on both professional and personal contexts (Makopoulou and Armour, 2011). There were significant challenges in relation to ethics, analysis and re-presentation. This study illustrates the complexity and contingency of teachers’ professional learning through their understanding of themselves and their interaction with, and response to, significant people and incidents (Kelchtermans and Vandenberghe, 1994). Their “stories to live by” (Clandinin and Connelly, 1998: 149) illuminate the ways in which teachers explain the complexities and contingencies underpinning their experiences of professional learning. The data illustrate the crucial role that context plays in understanding professional learning (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000: 27) and the challenges teachers face in balancing their roles as policy subjects and policy actors (Ball, Maguire, Braun and Hoskins, 2011a and b). This work makes a unique contribution to the field of professional learning by using the detailed individual cases of each teacher to illustrate general concerns for the development of effective policy and practice. It also contributes to the methodological debates around the use of narratives as a means of understanding the “human condition” (Arendt, 1958). The data challenge us to consider the possibilities that narrative accounts and analyses offer for the generation of knowledge in this area with implications for both teachers and other professionals, and policy and practice.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London.
Appears in Collections:Education
Dept of Education Theses

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