Date of Award

1-1-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Mark Hackling

Second Advisor

Professor Denis Goodrum

Abstract

In education, innovations are frequently introduced to promote changes to the curriculum, teachers' practice, and the classroom environment, however, these initiatives are often implemented without sufficient evaluation to monitor their impact and effectiveness in bringing about the desired changes. This thesis analyses the impact of a teacher professional learning program on lower secondary science teachers' practice. It examines the relationship between teachers' concerns about the strategies incorporated in the Collaborative Australian Secondary Science Program (CASSP) and teachers' ability to understand the strategies, on their ability to utilise those strategies in the classroom. It also seeks to determine teachers' beliefs about their current science teaching practice and how this is different from their beliefs about ideal science teaching, and also, how these beliefs direct teachers’ classroom practice. Finally this study describes a number of primary and secondary factors found to impact on teachers' professional learning. 11tc CASSP model encapsulates the primary factors of curriculum exemplars (curriculum resources), explanation und modelling (professional development), and reflection (participative inquiry). The secondary factors include ensuring adequate time for change to occur, student support and participation, peer teacher support, support from lenders including-heads of department, support from the school administration and support from state education officers. This study has demonstrated that teachers’ professional learning is a complex process that is strongly influenced by teachers' beliefs, concerns and understandings, and is impacted by the primary and secondary factors identified by the research. Teachers must be able to envision the advantages of incorporating new strategies into their existing practice, and consequently seek to make these changes to their teaching. This study has shown that students are also an important influence the implementation of an innovation, without their support, teachers are unlikely to make successful changes to their teaching practice. lmplications of the research include the need to elaborate the CASSP professional learning model to include the secondary factors identified in the study, and the need to inform students about innovations so that they can see the benefits for them in terms of improved learning outcomes.

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