Issue 3 of Volume 42 of Professional Development in Education now available on-line
Issue 3 of Volume 42 of the Association’s flagship journal Professional Development in Education is now available on-line, edited by Managing Editor Professor Ken Jones.
This issue not only brings together articles on professional learning from a variety of international contexts, it also allows readers to reflect on the many different approaches to researching professional learning and development. One interesting aspect of this is the way in which researchers judge the impact of PLD and the necessity in some methodologies to quantify this. Ken alludes to this in his Editorial which draws on the modern classic The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. In the book, the key character tries to quantify ‘goodness’ and Ken asks how similar this might be to the quantification and measurement of ‘professional learning’. Hopefully this will raise debate from within the research and PLD communities.
The eclectic mix of articles in this issue contains many qualitative studies but also includes quantitative approaches with statistical analysis of results.
The first article presents an interesting insight into the movement to shift from ‘traditional’ to ‘innovative’ approaches in the teaching of mathematics in the USA, and in doing so is presented using statistical analysis. Riley Lloyd, Veal and Howell argue that: Traditionally, mathematics is viewed as ‘an orderly, enduring set of facts and logic’. When this view is combined with direct, teacher-centred pedagogy, mathematics becomes a static subject promoting mediocrity and inequity. The article continues by outlining the ways in which data on teachers’ beliefs and practices are collected and analysed, an approach infrequently used in this journal. Read the article to see whether you agree with their methods and conclusions.
The second article by Izadinia provides a very different approach to research by using interview and thematic analysis to draw conclusions on the ways in which mentoring affects teacher identity. They use metaphor as a tool to guide the sampled individuals to give an insight into the relationship between the mentor and mentee. The use of qualitative methods in this study contrasts strongly with the quantitative style of the previous article, and putting the two together provides a fascinating insight into the ways in which different researchers approach similar aspects of PLD.
The next two articles relate to work undertaken in Malaysia, the United Kingdom and Indonesia. The article by Jarvis, Bowtell, Bhania and Dickerson provides an insight into the ways in which collaboration and a co-constructive approach to curriculum development provides a stronger and potentially more effective programme of teacher education. Rather than focusing on the new programme itself, the article turns the spotlight on the collaborators – the education professionals who were able to develop a self-critical approach in co-constructing the new programme in cross-national settings. The fact that the process impacted on professional learning and practice for both sets of collaborators is an important outcome, and the benefits of a collaborative approach are as significant for what did not take place (i.e. a transmission model) as for the successes of effective shared ownership of the process.
The next article by Zein also focuses on a Southeast Asian context (Indonesia) but gives a highly critical perspective of reasons for the perceived inadequacy of professional development programmes for the teaching of English in that country. An interesting, and not particularly flattering, overview is given of the provision of professional development in Indonesia, focusing especially on the ways in which decentralisation of education decision-making has impacted (in the view of the author) on the quality of teacher education It will be interesting to see whether a response is forthcoming from other educators in Indonesia to confirm or reject the conclusions reached in this article.
The next two articles focus on action research as professional learning, the first in Norway and the second in the USA. The article by Ulvik and Riese does not seek to oversimplify the introduction of this model of professional learning and recognises that it may be a ‘complex and challenging process that needs guidance and facilitation’ (p. 442). The study involves the use of first-order and second-order action research (or action research upon action research) and one of the conclusions reached was ‘how challenging it is to teach and do research simultaneously’ (p. 442), a point frequently overlooked in the advocacy of this approach.
The second article on the theme of inquiry, by Clayton and Kilbane, echoes many of the points from the Norwegian study. They too advocate the importance of inquiry as a tool for professional learning and acknowledge that the professional development support needed to ensure effective inquiry would be ‘multi-dimensional, ongoing and complex’ (p. 458).
The final two articles in this issue focus on one of the fastest growing aspects of education today, the understanding of new technologies and the introduction of new technologies into the process of teaching and learning. One element of this is mobile learning (mlearning) and the article by Crompton, Olszewski and Bielfeldt provides an insight into how effective professional development support may be structured to meet the emerging needs of students and teachers in the USA. Being able to use new technologies is not a recipe for being able to teach with and about them effectively, and the disconnect between technology and pedagogy, often attributed to a lack of effective professional development support, forms the focus of this article.
The final article, again from the USA, is a Viewpoint piece by Boyd and Sampson. This continues the theme of integrating digital technologies with educational practice, this time in higher education. They identify the need to allow ‘structured migration between technologies according to context and task’ both in the pedagogical aspect of teaching and in the approaches to professional learning.
The article discusses the need to promote digital confidence in creative settings and concludes that the confidence to experiment with digital technologies is important, but this must take place in ‘a supportive context where collegiate dialogue …is possible’.
Professor Ken Jones, Managing Editor, Professional Development in Education