SOAP in Practice: Learning Outcomes of a Cross-Institutional Innovation Project Conducted by Teachers, Student Teachers, and Teacher Educators

Aug. 01, 2010

Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 33, No. 3, August 2010, 229–243.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article reports on a case study investigating the learning outcomes of a cross-institutional innovation project based on an integrated approach of Schooling of teachers, Organisational development (of schools and teacher-training institutes), Action and development oriented research, and Professional development of teachers; in short, the SOAP approach (Seezink and Van der Sanden, 2005).

More specifically, this study aims to investigate the individual and organisational learning outcomes of SOAP-inspired knowledge communities based on partnerships among educational institutes.

This study addresses to the following research question:
What learning outcomes can be identified, both at the individual and organisational levels, of implementing a SOAP-inspired innovation project?


There were 37 participants in the study: 21 male and 16 female.
The participants had different backgrounds and worked within inter- and intra-institutional arrangements in the Netherlands: students teachers, teachers working in PVSE schools, teachers working in SSVE schools, and teacher educators.

Semi-structured interviews were held with all participants.

Conclusions and discussion

The authors conclude that participants valued the collaboration as well as the inter- and intra-institutional nature of the innovation project, which led to many reported instances of individual and organizational learning.

At the individual level, participants seem to have learned most about project design and management, about their own action theories with regard to education, and about the professional practice of teaching.

At the organisational level, most learning seems to have occurred at the project level (among partners).

All participants, from all of the different backgrounds, reported having gained a broader view of the teaching profession and the difficulties associated with their different backgrounds.

However, this case study showed that learning outcomes related to transfer between institutions and project, caused some difficulties.
Some teachers reported experiencing resistance within their own institutions, both at the teacher level and at the management level.

Often school management focused on formalised ways of professional development (i.e., attending courses, workshops or similar events), whereas teachers preferred to learn in the workplace by interacting with the SOAP partners in the innovation project which was directly relevant for their work.

The authors conclude that this case study is an example of how these partnerships can take form and what they can contribute.
These partnerships appear to lead to positive learning outcomes for the involved participants.
Furthermore, theses partnerships create a broader view and more mutual understanding for both the challenges faced by initial teacher training institutes and competences required for and the problems associated with continuing professional development trajectories.

The authors recommend on creating networks based on SOAP principles for these cross-institutional innovation projects.

Seezink, A., and J.M.M. Van der Sanden. 2005. Lerend werken in de docentenwerkplaats: Praktijktheorieën von docenten over competentiegericht voorbereidend middel baar beroepsonderwijs. Pegagogische Studiën 82, no. 4: 275–92.

Updated: Nov. 25, 2012