Longitudinal Research on Beginning Teacher Development: Complexity as a Challenge to Concerns-based Stage Theory

Jan. 15, 2007

Source: Teachers ad Teaching Education, Volume 23, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 106-122

Stage theory represents a concise explanation for change in teacher professional development with gained experience in the classroom. This study examines the self-task-impact stage chronology proposed by concerns-based theory within the framework of longitudinal research on beginning teaching.

The study investigated developmental change in a panel (N=79) of beginning teachers across two years utilizing the Teacher Concerns Checklist, a concerns inventory, at six application points. Analysis of variance with Scheffé post hoc tests was utilized to rank categories of concerns and to test whether teacher and school contextual variables would affect these rankings.

The results confirm findings of similar longitudinal studies, indicating teachers’ concerns for impact consistently rank highest across time. Additionally, the ranking of concerns categories was not affected by the contextual variables. Two aspects of impact, one academic in orientation and the second consisting of personal and individual concerns for students, emerged as distinct dimensions across time.

The author proposes a reconsideration of concerns-based theory for its limited ability to comprehensively explain the complex nature of teacher development. Rather than chronological, concerns are recurring and indicate the need to scaffold linkages between student learning, learning theory, and instructional practices early in teaching careers in lieu of singularly focused managerial aspects of teaching.

Updated: Jun. 12, 2008