Developmental Changes in Teachers' Attitudes About Professional Development

Developmental Changes in Teachers' Attitudes About Professional Development

Bruce Torff (Hofstra University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3068-8.ch024


Teachers' attitudes about professional development exert strong influence on the outcomes of professional-development programs. This chapter provides a review of the research literature in this area, pointing to a three-phase developmental pattern in these attitudes. This pattern is then elucidated with a theoretical model based on the development of teachers' working styles in the classroom, as a function of processes of innovation and routinization. The three-phase model encompasses early career challenges, mid-career establishment of a working style, and later-career stability. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications of these data and theoretical model for optimal use of PD resources.
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Research On Effectiveness Of Pd Initiatives

An extensive body of literature is focused on the features and characteristics of professional development programs that make these programs effective in promoting teacher growth. For example, a great deal of evidence suggests that these programs are more efficacious when extended over a long period rather than conducted in a single session, responsive to teachers’ perceived needs and concerns, grounded in teacher practice rather than presented as general and abstract, and provided by individuals seen as credible and experienced by participating teachers (Cohen & Hill, 2001; Desimone et al., 2002; Garet et al., 2001; Herrington & Daubenmire, 2016; McGill-Franzen & Allington; Newman, King, & Youngs, 2000; Supovitz, Mayer, & Kahle, 2000; Weiss & Pasley, 2006).

Less attention has been paid to teacher characteristics that influence the effectiveness of professional development (PD) initiatives (e.g., Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 2001; Lumpe & Chambers, 2001; Haney, Czerniak, & Lumpe, 1996; Smylie, 1988; Sparks, 1988; Speck, 1996; van Aalderen-Smeets & van der Molen, 2015). For example, consider teachers’ attitudes about the PD programs in which they participate. An enormous body of literature in social psychology and elsewhere supports the common-sense belief that individuals with supportive attitudes gain more from any kind of initiative, educational or otherwise (Aist, 1987; Graham et al., 2002). PD initiatives are no exception; it follows that teachers who are eager to expand their skills are more likely to make headway in a PD program relative to teachers who would prefer not to participate (a fact not lost on individuals who provide these programs).

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