AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Collaborative professional learning: investigating impact and sustainability

by Lorraine Beveridge

Institution: University of Newcastle
Degree: PhD
Year: 2015
Keywords: collaborative teacher professional learning; impact; sustainability; teacher dispositions
Record ID: 1056009
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1058694


Research Doctorate - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) This thesis examines the sustainability of collaborative professional learning in schools and its reported impact on teacher dispositions and school culture. Existing research has considered how teacher professional learning is sustained in the short term, but less attention has been paid to longer-term sustainability. One of the most vexing, lingering issues in the field of education is how meaningful educational change can be sustained such that teacher quality is ensured and impact on student learning is maximised. This work investigates a significant funded professional learning project in NSW government schools from 2006 to 2010. The particular project, Quality Teaching Action Learning, focused on improving teacher quality through the implementation of the NSW model of pedagogy and action learning, with a dual emphasis on both process and content. The study consisted of an initial survey sent to the 160 schools that received project funding during the time period specified and designed to inform the selection of cases; and multiple case studies that involved interviews, observations, and document studies in four case study schools. Results of the study were classified under three broad areas. The first of these related to school culture. Schools where there existed high levels of collaboration, professional trust, and shared practice, were more likely to sustain changes associated with collaborative professional learning. Second, where school infrastructure was in place to support sustainability, including time, funding, and other enabling conditions, learning was more likely to be sustained. Third, in those schools where learning was sustained and professional learning communities were established, leadership was distributed and the group shared a collective theoretical understanding and language with which to reflect on their practice. Learning in this instance was focused on improving student outcomes. This research resulted in the development of a framework which identifies factors that sustain professional learning over the longer term, all of which relate to building school capacity. The study contributes to a growing body of research on collaborative professional learning, increasingly considered as a “cornerstone” of school improvement and reform.