Collaborative Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for Teachers in Scotland: Aspirations, Opportunities and Barriers

From Section:
Professional Development
Feb. 10, 2011

Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 34, No. 1, February 2011, 25–41.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article investigates stakeholders’ views on the desirability of collaborative continuing professional development (CPD) and examines potential barriers from a Scottish perspective.

The projects

This article draws on two empirical projects: ‘Teachers as learners in the context of continuing professional development’ – a project within the Applied Educational Research Scheme (AERS) in Scotland, and ‘Early Professional Development in Scotland: Teachers in Years 2–6’ – a project led by members of the above AERS project team on behalf of Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS).
The AERS project sought to examine the conditions for effective continuing professional development for teachers by developing research instruments and establishing criteria for good practice, which can be applied at a range of different levels within the educational system. This paper draws on interviews with 10 key informants, who were senior figures were drawn from stakeholder organizations with a role/interest in CPD, and with 8 teachers selected because of their ‘CPD successes’.
The LTS project focused on the CPD needs of teachers in the post-induction phase – Years 2–6 of their professional lives.
The research was undertaken in three phases: Phase 1 consisted of 10 nominal group technique interviews with 59 participants; Phase 2 was an electronic survey which generated 667 useable responses; and Phase 3 was a consultation exercise with stakeholders which generated 20 responses, through both face-to-face meetings and electronic communication.

In analyzing the data the paper draws on the ‘triple lens framework’ (Fraser et al., 2007) as a means of better understanding the purpose and potential impact of CPD. This model offers a composite framework for understanding teacher learning.

Concluding comments

The triple-lens framework is a useful tool for considering the factors which might contribute to a teacher’s effective engagement in collaborative learning.
That is, teachers and their professional learning peers or mentors could usefully consider the extent to which any professional learning activity supports the personal, the social and the occupational domain (Bell and Gilbert, 1996) ;the extent to which the professional learning activity results in transmissive learning or in transformative action and increased professional autonomy (Kennedy, 2005); and the sphere of action in which professional learning takes place (Reid’s quadrants of professional learning).

The research discussed and reported here suggests that a greater balance of forms and purpose of CPD is desirable. However, the policy context within which Scottish teachers currently work focuses on an individualized, standards-based framework.
There are clearly tensions here surrounding the extent to which collaborative and informal learning is perceived as valuable and can be accounted for within such a framework.

The author concludes by suggesting that not all professional learning can or should be formally accounted for – there is a requirement for professional trust in order that the benefits of collaborative, informal and incidental learning are not lost in an attempt to formalize and individualize them.

Bell, B., and J. Gilbert. 1996. Teacher development: A model from science education.
London: Falmer Press.

Fraser, C., A. Kennedy, L. Reid, and S. McKinney. 2007. Teachers’ continuing professional development: Contested concepts, understandings and models. Journal of In-service Education 33, no. 2: 153–69.

Kennedy, A. 2005. Models of continuing professional development (CPD): A framework for analysis. Journal of In-Service Education 31, no. 2: 235–50.

Updated: Nov. 09, 2021
Barriers | Education policies | Education practice | Professional continuing education | Professional development | Teacher collaboration | Teachers’ learning