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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teacher professional development and communities of practice Hirtz, Janine Renee Marie


The larger research project seeks to examine the role of technology and factors that influence its overall use and efficacy in supporting a community of teachers engaged in professional development. This thesis examines factors that appear to influence teacher participation in the online community of practice engaging in an overarching research project conducted by Dr. Balcaen and a team from UBC O Faculty of Education and funded by the Southern Alberta Professional Development Consortium (SAPDC). The two groups are acting in partnership for supporting and sustaining communities of practice in social studies in southern Alberta. SAPDC is allowing teachers release time to engage in the project while TC² is providing professional development for the participant teachers to become proficient at embedding TC² critical thinking tools into their classroom practices. Various technologies are used during this study as part of the design of providing professional development for the participants including supporting an online community presence. The guiding question for this thesis is: In a blended approach of face-to-face and online supported professional development for embedding critical thinking into the new social studies curriculum, what significant factors appear to influence teacher participation in the online community of practice during the first year of the project? Overall results during the first year of this project show that various technologies used during the project are valuable and effective in nurturing this community of practice by enabling and promoting collaboration, communication, and the completion and delivery of products to be used in teaching the new curriculum. I also examine negative factors that appear to prevent some teachers’ technology use and online participation and collaboration during this project. Findings show that there are several significant factors that influence participation in the online community and while some participants are reluctant to engage or enter the online environment, others have emerged as leaders and play a significant role in building and sustaining the community of practice. These results provide critical information about implementing and integrating an online component and using technology to sustain communities of practice engaged in this form of teacher professional development.

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