Professional Learning Orientations

Patterns of Dissonance and Alignment Between Teachers' Values and Practices

Published in: Research Papers in Education, 2012

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by David J Pedder, V. Darleen Opfer

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Through its positive influence on teachers' classroom practices and their students' learning, effective professional learning of teachers is an important condition for school improvement. However, the Teaching and Learning International Survey reports that teachers' professional development in most countries falls short of meeting the needs of teachers. This paper reports analysis of survey data collected for a national study of teachers' professional development in England, although the issues it raises have international relevance. Through factor analysis four underlying dimensions of teachers' learning orientations were identified and used as the basis for developing profiles of teachers' professional learning values and practices through cluster analysis. Based on these profiles, five distinctive groupings of teachers were identified: 'engaged learners', 'moderate learners', 'infrequent learners', individual explorers' and 'solitary classroom learners'. The concept of dissonance between values and practice is a strong theme in the findings and for policy development. The main findings are that only a minority of teachers are 'engaged' learners. There is a prevailing individualist approach to learning among the majority of teachers. And there are important between and within school differences in the mix of teachers' learning orientations. This leads to recommendations for more differentiated forms of support for promoting effective professional learning in schools.

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