The practical argument staff development process, school culture and their effects on teachers' beliefs and classroom practice.
AuthorHamilton, Mary Lynn E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis qualitative study investigates the interaction among teachers' beliefs, their practices, and the practical argument staff development process in two schools and suggests how school culture may affect that interaction. The subjects for this study were the intermediate teachers from two of the schools participating in the OERI Study, A Study Teachers' Research-Based Instruction of Reading Comprehension (RIS). This study was designed to investigate the proposal in staff development/teacher change literature that conscious examination of beliefs facilitates teacher change. Furthermore, this study explores the importance of school culture to the success of a staff development program. Social interactivity may affect the change process. Data was gathered in a participant-observation process extending over an eight-month period. During that time, there were classroom and staff development process observations, formal and informal interviews with teachers and administrators, examination of audio/videotapes of events, dialogues with the research team, and documentation of each event with field notes. The findings are introduced through a description and interpretation of events in each of the two schools. They are established upon an understanding of how the participating teachers responded to change and to the staff development process, and how school culture affected those teachers and the process. The findings also incorporate the most recent research on teachers' beliefs, staff development, and school culture. They address the theory/practice dichotomy and its relation to change; teachers' beliefs about reading and teaching and their relationship to the teachers' involvement in the staff development program; the culture of each school; the practical argument staff development program, its organization, and presentation; and the relationship between the teachers' willingness to change and the school culture, teachers' beliefs, and the staff development process. This is a set of case studies about teachers in two schools with varied beliefs and backgrounds. Generalizations from this study, applied to other schools and/or staff development programs, may focus on an understanding of the influence of teachers' beliefs and school culture on a staff development program and the process of teacher change.
Degree ProgramTeaching and Teacher Education