Guskey (2002) suggests that research points to most CPD as being ineffective in bringing about the desired fundamental change in teachers' beliefs, attitudes and practice. He points out that what primarily motivates teachers to learn is a desire to improve the learning outcome of their students. Adding that they are also very pragmatic, seeking specific, concrete and practical ideas. Programmes that do not take this into account are doomed to failure. He suggests that the underlying model that is often used with teachers' CPD is flawed: based on the ideas of Lewin (1935) it presupposes that in order to change teaching practice we must firstly address teachers' beliefs and attitudes in order to obtain their commitment and enthusiasm to subsequently implement new programmes. Guskey proposes an alternative model based upon the premise that one has to firstly demonstrate the practical and concrete benefits of innovation, and the positive impact on students' learning outcomes:
'The crucial point is that it is not the professional development per se, but the experience of successful implementation that changes teachers’ attitudes and beliefs. They believe it works because they have seen it work, and that experience shapes their attitudes and beliefs' (Guskey, 2002, p.383)
|Guskey (p.383, 2002)|
'In comparison to the traditional ‘one-hit’ workshops, these types of activities are usually longer in duration, allow teachers the opportunity to practise and reflect upon their teaching and are embedded in ongoing teaching activities' (Boyle et al, 2004, p.48)
The findings from their longitudinal study suggest that the most common longer-term CPD activities for teachers involved the observation of colleagues (peers) and the sharing of practice, and that these activities led to one or more aspects of teaching practice being modified.
The conclusions of Guskey and Boyle et al fit well with the approach adopted in eTwinning, where the basic premise is that teachers primarily learn from each other, through concrete activities (often joint pedagogical projects) in an environment that supports longer-term collaboration and relationship building. The conclusions also support the ideas that we are putting forward for the revised LE in the autumn, namely: more support for peer reflection and sharing, and a longer period in which teachers may try-out the ideas in their daily practice.
Boyle, B., While, D. & Boyle, T. (2004) 'A longitudinal study of teacher change: what makes professional development effective?'. Curriculum Journal, 15 (1), pp.45-68
Guskey, T. R. (2002) 'Professional Development and Teacher Change'. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 8 (3), pp.381 - 391
Lewin, K. (1935) 'A Dynamic Theory of Personality', New York, McGraw Hill