UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Supporting teachers' professional learning through collaborative inquiry : a case study MacNeil, Kimberley


Teachers' professional learning is important for optimizing students' learning opportunities in schools. Establishing professional learning that supports improvements in teaching and learning is difficult work, and is enhanced by attending to the experiences, learning needs, and agency of teachers. Collaborative, inquiry-based approaches are promising because, through them, teachers have opportunities to learn in sustained and situated ways which can support them in making connections between current practice, their contexts, and new learning. However, more understanding is needed about how to design and support collaborative inquiry in ways that balance teachers' needs for both agency and support. With the goal of advancing understanding about designing and supporting teachers' professional learning through collaborative inquiry, this study sought to: document how one community of inquiry (CoI) was designed to foster teachers' learning; examine the process of teacher learning; and explore how teachers' learning and practice were impacted through their participation. Using a case study design, I co-facilitated a CoI with eleven educators interested in fostering students' self-regulated learning (SRL). Data collected for the study included: (1) artifacts documenting resources and supports offered through the CoI; (2) assignments educators submitted to represent their learning and practice outcomes; (3) field notes; and (4) interviews with educators. Findings were that the CoI was deliberately structured with attention to key professional learning processes (e.g., collaborative, sustained, situated). Moreover, supports (e.g., resources; guiding tools for inquiry processes; individualized feedback from the facilitator) were offered to participants as they made choices about their learning. Participants engaged in multiple, continuous inquiry cycles. Teachers' monitoring (e.g., observing student responses to new practices) was key for linking inquiry processes and when participants reflected on practice, identified tensions, and brought in new professional learning they most fully engaged in cycles of inquiry. Participants collaborated both within and beyond the CoI and exercised agency for their own learning. They also reported learning about SRL and SRL-promoting practices, benefits for their students, impacts to their process of professional learning, and influencing their colleagues' learning and practice beyond the CoI. Contributions, limitations, and implications are discussed.

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