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Transformative practice in teaching: How experienced teachers explain the profound transformative influences on their teaching practice.

The social transformation represented by a shift from the industrial economy to the knowledge economy presents a challenge to the education sector. That challenge is to provide high-quality teaching that results in improved outcomes for students who are developing the habit of continuous learning. A challenge such as this may be met by teachers transforming their teaching practice. This small-scale qualitative research project seeks an understanding of and insight into those factors which influence transformative practice for experienced teachers. It uses semi-structured interviews to gather the perspectives of seven experienced teachers and explores the themes derived from their stories of transformative practice in relation to themes derived from the literature. The literature reveals four significant dimensions of influence on transformative practice: professional development, individual factors, school factors, and an emerging theme of communities of practice. The research findings confirm that experienced teachers' perceptions of the profound transformative influences on their teaching practice are consistent with some of the literature. These congruencies include teachers working individually or collaboratively on problems of practice using a process of trial and error experimentation, and where workplace conditions support risk-taking and promote ownership of learning. The findings confirm that transformative practice is driven by powerful emotions that connect teachers to the learning needs of their students, and is sustained by intrinsic rewards. The research findings reveal two significant areas of divergence. The literature identifies the need for depth and breadth of content knowledge and assessment knowledge, and for critical reflection on the effectiveness of transformative teaching practices on student outcomes, neither of which were identified by participants as factors which influenced transformative practice. This indicated that teachers were unlikely to be developing local knowledge-of-practice, a necessary prerequisite for linking the purpose of transformative practice with its goal - to improve outcomes for students. Drawing on the understandings of, and insights into, transformative practice, this research presents a diagrammatic representation of a framework to illustrate the transformative influences on teaching practice. It also presents a knowledge-building learning cycle as a diagrammatic representation of the process required to generate knowledge-of-practice. This research project includes recommendations suggesting that teachers develop a rich understanding of the concept of knowledge-of-practice and embed this practice in their daily work. It recommends that the knowledge-building learning cycle is facilitated by leaders of learning who have the skills to activate teacher learning, and that during the knowledge-building learning cycle, teachers develop depth and breadth of content knowledge and assessment knowledge. It recommends that leaders of learning guard against transformative practice becoming an end in itself, and suggests that utilizing the knowledge-building learning cycle could lead to a new form of professionalism that is continuous and sustainable. This study proposes that by acting on these recommendations, leaders of learning may enhance their ability to influence transformative teaching practice where students receive high-quality teaching which simultaneously achieves improved outcomes for students.
Type of thesis
Holden, C. (2010). Transformative practice in teaching: How experienced teachers explain the profound transformative influences on their teaching practice. (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4299
The University of Waikato
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