Using Multimodal Narratives in Professional Development to Support Collaborative Work: Improving Teaching Practices to Enhance Learning

Using Multimodal Narratives in Professional Development to Support Collaborative Work: Improving Teaching Practices to Enhance Learning

J. Bernardino Lopes (Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8570-1.ch007


In this chapter, the authors discuss professional development (PD), self- and hetero-directed based on cases of physics education teachers in secondary and higher education and the role that multimodal narratives have in both processes. They adopt the PD perspective, which assumes that PD should be evaluated by its impact on teaching practices improvement. In this context, the PD aims to improve, incrementally, teaching practices. This process is difficult and complex and involves both teachers themselves and other professionals. Multimodal narratives (MN) are a tool that makes it possible to make teaching practices public and thus open to analysis by the teacher, other professionals, and researchers. The reported PD uses MNs as a tool that supports the teacher's collaborative work with peers and researchers. This collaborative work results in important incremental improvements in teaching practices.
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This chapter focuses on professional development (PD) centered on improving the quality of teaching practices with impact on student learning in line with the current definition of PD (Soebari & Aldridge, 2015). The PD of teachers involves multiple dimensions, one of which is the improvement of the quality of teaching practices and students’ achievement (Desimone, 2009; Fischer et al., 2018). There may, however, be PD without there being improvement of teaching practices in classroom lessons (Bakkenes, Vermunt & Wubbels, 2010; Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008). The most recent conceptualization of PD emphasizes that improving teaching practices in classroom lessons with effects on the quality of student learning is an essential component of the definition of PD (Desimone & Garet, 2015; Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos, 2009). It is necessary, therefore, that teaching practice in the classroom be central to the PD itself (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008; Wei et al., 2009). As teaching practices are difficult to change (Bakkenes et al., 2010; Lopes & Cunha, 2017; Morris & Hiebert, 2011; Osborne, 2014), it is necessary to consider PD as incremental: a PD that allows successive iterations of the teaching practice and verifying in what conditions a certain aspect of teaching practices works and is effective to students’ learning. Thus, the PD, centered on the improvement of teaching practices, must be based on successive cycles of action research, each of them (Lopes & Cunha, 2017) with: (a) design of a proposal for teaching based on intentions, explicit didactics, past experience and research results; (b) implementation of the teaching proposal and data collection; and (c) analysis of data collected to determine the effectiveness of teaching practices and seek new lines of action in teaching practices or refinements of them.

The central idea of this chapter is to show how a tool – Multimodal Narratives (Lopes et al., 2014) – that helps to collect, organize and aggregate data about classroom teaching practices can be used in PD (self- or hetero-directed) centered on teaching practices. The PD is based on collaborative processes of a teacher with peers or with researchers (Avalos, 2011). In these processes, Multimodal Narratives (MN) of lessons allow that: a) teachers collaborate with each other using the MN as a tool to identify objectively what promotes or inhibits students’ learning; and b) researchers study the dynamics and processes of teaching and point out new directions. Thus, the main objectives of this chapter are:

  • Objective One: Conceptualize PD articulating teaching practices and research evidences.

  • Objective Two: Show how PD centered on teaching practices can incrementally improve the quality of teaching practices and students’ learning.

  • Objective Three: Present the different roles that MN can play in promoting PD focused on teaching practices.


A Framework For Professional Development Articulating Teaching Practices And Research Evidences

Teaching practice in classroom lessons is an essential component of a teacher’s professional practice in any curricular area. The teaching practice as a professional practice has a tacit dimension that articulates with the explicit dimension in a way that is different according to the theoretical perspective of the authors (Baird, 2004; Cook & Brown, 1999; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Winch, Oancea, & Orchard, 2015). Understanding the nature of teaching practice is important because only then is it possible to conceive and frame the theoretical and practical problems that its improvement involves.

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