|abstract ||The aim of the research reported in this dissertation is to describe how experienced secondary school teachers learn at work in an informal environment. Until recently, teacher learning has mainly been studied in the context of professional development programs. Teachers themselves, however, report that they continuously learn from the daily activities they undertake as part of their job, not only in professional development. Not much is known yet about how teachers learn in such an informal learning environment. Hence, the overall problem definition of the dissertation is: How do experienced teachers learn in an informal learning environment? We focus on experienced secondary school teachers and in particular on one domain of teacher learning: fostering students’ active and selfregulated learning (ASL).
Teacher learning is defined as engaging in activities that lead to a change in cognition and/or teaching behavior. Because learning in an informal learning environment may be planned or unplanned, conscious or beyond the learner’s awareness, we have aimed to study teacher learning on several levels of conscious awareness. Moreover, as the role of emotions and needs in the teaching profession is increasingly recognized, this dissertation adopts a perspective on learning that embraces not only cognitive and behavioral, but also motivational and emotional aspects of the activities involved in learning.
The dissertation describes three related studies.
The first study in the dissertation yields a categorization of learning activities on several levels of conscious awareness. By studying the cognitive, behavioural, motivational and emotional aspects of activities simultaneously we were able to distinguish a number of activities that have been overlooked by current theories of teacher learning. Such as suppressing emotion and behavioural tendencies in practicing new teaching behaviour in the classroom.
The second study used a mixed method approach to study 32 teachers over the period of a year. In the study teachers’ self reported learning activities are related to teachers’ changes in conceptions and behaviour. We studied the behavioural as well as the mental part of the activities simultaneously. The study shows that certain combinations of behavioural and mental aspects of activities: amongst others experimenting in combination with meaning oriented reflection, could be related to a change in conceptions towards becoming more ASL oriented.
The third study is a contrasting case study in which two teachers who greatly differed in learning outcomes are studied in the context in which they work. The study shows that teachers’ autonomy, collaboration, reflective dialogue, feedback reception and shared norms are important for teacher learning, but that these conditions are shaped in the interactions between the teacher and his/her environment. Both the teacher and the organization play their part in shaping these conditions.
Some important implications for research are that in the study of learning in the workplace the overt and mental aspects of activities should be considered simultaneously. Moreover, in the study of the mental aspects of activities the role of consciousness and the role of emotional and motivational aspects of activities should be taken into account.
Practical implications of the study are that all stakeholders in education including the teachers themselves should acknowledge that teachers are also learners.|
|keywords ||Workplace learning, Informal learning, Teacher learning, Conditions for learning, Learning activities, self-regulated learning, consciousness, emotions, Mixed methods, Case study|