The complexity of teacher professional growth – experiences of professional learning and development, including practice-based inquiry

Taylor, Philip Robert (2018) The complexity of teacher professional growth – experiences of professional learning and development, including practice-based inquiry. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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In this thesis, teacher professional growth is conceived as complex, relational, adaptive and recursive, comprising processes of learning and development. Teacher learning is considered an ongoing, everyday process of building on experience through interpretation, integration and application. Teacher development is viewed as a continuous, longer-term process of journeying, more outward-facing to encompass professional knowledge, practice and status. Professional growth unfolds within one or more organisational contexts that mediate the external conditions of an educational system currently dominated by performativity. Teacher practice-based inquiry is explored as a vehicle for professional growth. Suggested critical aspects of teacher professional growth are intended purpose, enacted opportunity and lived response, considered intertwined or complex and employed as an interpretive framework. Six secondary teachers have participated in this study, through recorded conversational accounts of professional growth and twenty written accounts of their practice-based inquiries. Unravelling purposes, opportunities and responses in this material suggests categories of description and variation that together form a possibility space, for both interpreting past experience and projecting future potential. Teacher practice-based inquiry offers an expanded space of possibilities for professional growth. This study utilises the theoretical perspectives of complexity thinking and participatory inquiry, complemented by agential realism, enactivism and relational being. Together, these trans-disciplinary approaches challenge representationalist ontologies and epistemologies, embracing axiology, and positioning researcher and participants as part of the phenomena to be studied. A recurring theme is complicity, mutually adaptive change, between teacher and learner, leader and teacher, teacher and context, and researcher and research. The contribution made by this thesis is a re-working of conceptualisations of teacher professional growth, combining identity, experience, learning and development, in a continual and complicit process of being and becoming, sustained through a sense of belonging. The resulting possibility spaces offer exemplary knowledge and tools for re-thinking teacher professional growth as a complex adaptive process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: There are many contributions to this study that have made it possible, from family, friends and colleagues in the past and present, all accomplices, who have shaped me, my learning and development in profound and important ways, for which I will always be thankful. This study would not have been possible without the experiences of professional growth and accounts of practice-based inquiry, shared willingly and generously by the six participating teachers, to whom I am sincerely grateful. I am indebted to my supervisors, Professor Alex Kendall and Professor Richard Hatcher, who have both supported and challenged me along the way with knowledge, insight and wisdom, giving me time and space to learn and grow. I thank them and their colleagues at Birmingham City University, where I am proud to have worked for six years. Most of all I thank my family, particularly those closest to me, who have put up with my semi-detached and study-absorbed moments, always encouraging and enabling me to carry on. I dedicate this work to them.
16 July 2018Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: Teacher professional growth, teacher learning, continuing professional learning and development, practice-based inquiry, complexity thinking
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-02 - teacher training
CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2019 11:15
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:23

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