Inquiry as a Tool for Professional Development School Improvement: Four Illustrations

Sep. 30, 2008

Source: Action in Teacher Education, 30 no. 3, p. 23-38. (Fall 2008)

Given the increasing pressures of high-stakes accountability associated with state mandates and No Child Left Behind (U.S. Department of Education, 2002), linking teacher preparation within professional development schools to the goal of school improvement has become essential. The paper illustrates the University of Florida's efforts to understand the ways that prospective teacher education can be linked to individual school improvement efforts. It explains how teacher educators and their school-based partners collaboratively craft their professional development school work with prospective and practicing teachers to target school improvement and teacher learning. The authors illustrate four models for engaging in inquiry-oriented school improvement and outline the factors that underlie their design.

These four models illustrate the ways that inquiry-oriented professional development school work contributes to individual school improvement efforts while cultivating in its participants an inquiry stance, a pedagogical content knowledge base, and a favorable disposition toward participating in school change.
The first illustration describes how individual prospective teacher inquiry can serve as an entry point to influence teacher and student learning within a PDS. The second illustration describes how collective prospective teacher inquiry, broadly focused on a shared school improvement area (e.g., mathematics), can support student learning and introduce inquiry to the school. The third illustration depicts how PDSs can use inquiry to study a specific research-based intervention targeted at supporting struggling readers by connecting university researchers to the PDSs. In the fourth illustration, the authors demonstrate how inquiry becomes a vehicle for whole-school inquiry efforts in the area of writing.

Updated: Apr. 22, 2009