טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentFurman-Shaharabani Yael
SubjectA Matter of Time:The long Term Effects of Extended
Professional Development programs for
Science Teachers
DepartmentDepartment of Education in Science and Technology
Supervisor Professor Tali Tal
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

In-service professional development of science teachers is of great importance. Although studies of in-service programs (PD) are widespread, there is limited research of long-term effects of PD on science teacher development. The main goal of this study was to examine the long-term effect of extended PD in the past on science teachers' professional development. A minor goal was to describe how the science teachers characterized effective PD.

This study draws upon two theoretical frameworks: models of teacher development and the sociocultural theory. The research employed a grounded-theory approach and encompassed 33 teachers (grade 7-9) and 8 teacher educators, who participated in 3 extended PD about 10 years beforehand. All the participating teachers were interviewed, and 10 teachers were chosen for profound case study, which included in-depth interviews and screening of teachers' documents relevant to the PD and present practice. The data was inductively analyzed to identify themes and construct categories, which were organized as patterns.

The teachers described PD's as contributing to their professional lives, and characterized effective PD as: innovative; aims at implementation; provides supportive learning environment; encourages active learning as teachers and learners; provides opportunity to meet colleagues.

The research main findings indicate two aspects of science teachers' professional development following an extended PD in the late 1990's. The Practical Aspect refers to innovative approaches, methods and techniques which became part of teachers' regular "tool-kit".  The Conceptual Aspect refers to a change in the teacher's views of teaching and learning science, during the PD, which is consciously articulated at the present and is related to change of practice. We portray three patterns of long-term professional development of science teachers regarding conceptual and practical aspects: "advanced", "on the way", and "delayed".  Significant long-term development is a combination of the change of conceptions and the change of practice.

Our findings emphasize the importance of the teacher's characteristics and teaching context to the professional development. We found seven context components, related to the continuous implementation of the PD's innovations, with emphasize of the science teachers' team work and management support. The teachers' career stage and tendency for innovations and initiative were important as well.

Our findings suggest that major changes in science education require change of teacher conceptions regarding science teaching and learning, to maintain long term implementation of innovative practice. We propose that science teachers' conception development, characteristics and context, should receive more attention as key constituents of PD.