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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Practices in professional development : does professional development enhance teacher education? Vroom, Dalila Mihic


Using ethnographic research methods, this study examined a group of elementary teachers' immediate and past perspectives on professional development based on their personal experiences. The study explored the teachers' conceptions of education and professional development. It analyzed the teachers' specific professional development needs and situations and attempted to provide some insights into what they believed is occurring in one British Columbia school district. The guiding research question was: Does professional development enhance teacher education? All of the teachers interviewed firmly believed that their professional development endeavors did enhance their education. The guiding research question was followed by interviews which centered upon four sets of thematic questions dealing with education and professional development. The results of these interviews provided the findings that: education was defined on a personal level, separate from the teachers' jobs, and professional development was defined as inservice or training. The teachers seemed to equate professional development with workshops / courses and thus, failed to realize the scope and options which were possible to them as various forms of professional development such as: networks, collaboratives, district / university partnerships, teacher as researcher and practical inquiry. Teachers seemed unaware of the latest professional development innovations which may signify that they may not be accessing educational journals or professional libraries. Overall, it was evident that the teachers interviewed needed and wanted to engage in collective experiences that would reflect in their practice and would not be limited to curricular inservice. This study provides insights about teachers' professional development and in turn their conceptions of education. Building on the study, researchers might explore a number of research questions, including: Are there any criteria as to what counts as "good" professional development? How can dialogues be established between the researchers and the teachers? What needs to occur in order for a change to happen whereby the teachers' visions become a reality so that they will be able to reflect on varied viewpoints which may in turn change, enhance or validate their classroom practice?

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