An Exploration of Learner-Centered Professional Development for Reluctant Math Teachers

An Exploration of Learner-Centered Professional Development for Reluctant Math Teachers

Ardyth Foster (Armstrong State University, USA), Joshua Lambert (Armstrong State University, USA) and Jackie HeeYoung Kim (Armstrong State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0892-2.ch010
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Abstract

In recent studies, researchers found that, while 90 percent of teachers reported participating in professional development, most of those teachers reported that it was not effective for improving their practice (Darling-Hammond et al., 2009; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, & Birman, 2002; Corcoran & Foley, 2003). These findings indicate that the real issue is not that teachers are not provided with professional development, but that the typical modes of professional development are ineffective at changing teacher practices and/or student learning. Therefore, there is a need to explore new ways of conducting effective professional development for teachers. This study investigates a learner-centered model of professional development, which is designed to maximize the impact of teacher training on student learning.
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Introduction

Studies have found that teachers do not necessarily find professional development workshops effective for changing their instructional practice, and this phenomenon appears to be related to the mode and design of current professional development workshops. This chapter will present current challenges to effecting change in teachers’ practice, and propose strategies for improving the effectiveness of professional development workshops, based on research that was conducted while executing a Teacher Quality State Grant Professional Development Initiative in two of Georgia’s high-needs public schools. We will first present complex, current challenges that inhibit the transformation of professional development experiences from traditional, random acts happening to teachers, to a systematic and collaborative process happening through teachers. We will then move to discuss the design of a particular form of the learner-centered model, namely, the differentiated instruction professional development model. Next, we will showcase insights gained by two faculty members during the professional development workshop, and we will also present the degree to which teachers effectively implemented differentiated instruction strategies in their practice. Finally, we will conclude with considerations that should be examined while executing learner-centered professional development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flipped Classroom Model: An instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional educational arrangement by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home and engage in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of the instructor.

Differentiated Instruction: A framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues for learning (often in the same classroom) in terms of: acquiring content; processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.

Knowing-Doing Gap: A gap that exists between what people in organizations know and what they actually implement in their practice.

Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK): Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to identify the nature of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration into their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge. The TPACK framework extends Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge.

Learning-by-Design Approach: Learning by Design emerges from the constructionist theory that emphasizes the value of learning through creating, programming, or participating in other forms of designing. The design process creates a rich context for learning. Learning by Design values both the process of learning and its outcomes or products.

Deep Learning: A framework of learning which utilizes learning tasks to harness the power of new learning partnerships. Individuals engage in practicing the process of deep learning through discovering and mastering existing knowledge, and creating and using new knowledge. Deep learning tasks are energized by the notion of ‘learning leadership’, in which students are expected to become leaders of their own learning, who are able to define and pursue their own learning goals, using the resources, tools, and connections that digital access enables.

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