Professional development and sustained change in teachers’ practice

Herbert, Paul A. (2019) Professional development and sustained change in teachers’ practice. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

Text (Whole Thesis)
Thesis Paul Herbert Submission without tracked changes Final.pdf

Download (1MB) | Preview


This study explores the impact of professional development on the pedagogical practice of teachers. Educator Thomas Guskey (1985) developed a model of staff development that identified four key stages that needed to occur if professional development was to result in sustained change in the professional practice of teachers. The study sought to identify a process whereby Guskey’s four stages could be successfully followed, culminating in sustained and lasting change to personal and professional teaching practice.

A qualitative work-based study involving the collection and analysis of personal interview data from members of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) at Fairholme College, Toowoomba, was conducted in 2017/2018. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of participants participation in the modelled professional learning process in assisting them progress through Guskey’s staff development model and effectively change pedagogical practice, particularly including the incorporation of elements of the schools teaching and learning framework (based on the Principles of Learning and Teaching PoLT 2) into that practice.

Guskey argues that if teachers are to change practice, they need to progress through a process of effective professional development which leads to a change in practice. This change needs to result in teachers identifying enhanced student learning and engagement in order for the teacher to be completely convinced that the ‘new’ pedagogical approach is effective. Only when this occurs will teachers change their beliefs and incorporate a new pedagogical approach into their foundational teaching practice.

This study collected data at each stage of the implementation of the Guskey model in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the approach taken and to determine its benefit as an exemplar for implementation in other schools. In addition, participants feelings on positive adult interdependence and a collaborative learning approach were also evaluated.

Qualitative data were obtained through personal interviews with teachers of varying levels of experience, from different teaching areas and from differing sections of the school (Kindy through to Senior Secondary). Data were collected that reflected participants views on self-improvement, collaborative engagement, enhanced
pedagogical practice and the effectiveness of the professional learning process they had participated in. Data also sought to identify the lasting changes to pedagogical practice evident as a result of this process. Would teachers embrace PoLT 2 into their foundational teaching practice?

Informal data collection, in the form of teacher feedback and ongoing professional reflection as part of the work-based study, contributed to an understanding of teacher progress in their journey towards a sustained change in pedagogical practice. Student data were also collected as part of teacher measurement of the effectiveness of pedagogical change on student learning and engagement.

The results indicated that the trialled model of professional learning supported the long-term professional growth of participants and increased the likelihood of lasting change in pedagogical practice. Outcomes illustrated that the successful implementation of Guskey’s staff development model benefits from a collaborative
approach to professional learning and the modelling and trialling of new pedagogical practice. Students became aware of adjustment in teacher practice and were generally positive in affirming the value of the changes to their learning. This data helped teachers meet Guskey’s third stage, by confirming the positive effect of pedagogical change on student learning and embedding that change into teaching practice. In addition, key recommendations for improvement of the process for future implementation, such as the need to obtain data from schools new to a school
improvement process and with a less experienced staff, were forthcoming.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 39560
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Master of Professional Studies (Research) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Supervisors: Fergusson, Lee; van der Laan, Luke
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2020 05:31
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 23:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: teacher change, professional learning, professional development
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390307 Teacher education and professional development of educators
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/hfme-p413

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only