Year

2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

This inquiry began as a SPIRT or APA(I) grant between the University of Wollongong and the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay and reflected a common are of need namely an interest in the relationship between literacy based teacher professional learning and their resulting classroom practice. Or, how what teachers learn from their professional learning experiences is translated into their classroom practice. In order to understand this relationship a series of five case studies located within three schools from a Catholic school system were explored. Within Australia there have been calls for increased investments in the professional learning of teachers (McKenzie, 2002; Vinson, 2001; Ramsay, 2000) and more extensive understanding regarding the impact of professional learning on teachers beliefs (Rodgers, 2002). There class have been motivated in part by pressures linked to globalisation (Fullan, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 1996; Hargreaves, 1994; DEST, 2003; NITL 2005) and driven by the need for educators to produce students who realise the need for diverse, continuous and appropriate or life-long learning (Darling-Hammond, 2005; Fullan, 2000). Of interest to this inquiry is the notion that individual teacher change occurs within an organisational context (Weick, 1995; Vaughan, 1996; Mills, 2003; Coburn, 2001, 2004, 2005) fraught with powerful organisational and cultural factors that work to either enable or inhibit teacher change (Datnow, 2002; Fullan, 2000; Goodson, 2001). There is a paucity of literature reporting studies conducted at a classroom level that focus upon understanding how teachers transform professional learning experiences into their individual classroom environments. This study aims to address this research gap by working towards the development of a more robust theory of the change process involved in the transfer of literacy based professional learning experiences into classroom practice. This inquiry utilises a qualitative constructive methodology in a ‘bricolage’ (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000a: 4; Arminio & Hultgren, 2002:456) that reflects the complex nature of classroom research and enables both a grounded theory methodology and case study methods to be utilised within this study. This choice acknowledges the importance of understanding the ‘multiple realities’ of the respondents (Guba & Lincoln, 1989:143) as well as the complex nature of the phenomena under study. The elements of Case Study and Grounded Theory, the way they are used in this inquiry, the unique setting and the interconnections between and among various methods of data collection and analysis serve to create the environment within which this inquiry is contained. The resultant grounded theory presents a theory that is grounded in or emerges from data (Dick, 2002; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). This is represented in diagrammatic form and demonstrates and discusses the type of change processes that teachers engage in. Implications and recommendations for a range of stakeholders are discussed in a number of related areas.

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