How do Teachers’ Perceptions of their Agency and Engagement Change after Participating in Self-directed Professional Development?

  • Author / Creator
    Rose, Kerry
  • One defining feature of a profession is control over decision-making with respect to professional development (PD). This study of three schools in an Alberta school district in Canada allowed teachers the option to opt out of centrally organized PD in order to pursue self-directed professional development (SDPD) for one school year (10 months). Activity Theory was used as a lens through which to visualize any changes in teachers’ perception of their agency and engagement during this intervention. Agency and engagement were operationalized into components and criteria derived from the literature for recognition from the data. Naturalistic observation of the negotiation of the intervention process and of SDPD projects during the intervention period described how teachers were able to organize SDPD projects and that these projects had diverse memberships, goals and durations. Semi-structured interviews with 20 purposively selected teacher-participants including 3 principals, one assistant principal and one guidance counsellor asked similar questions about teachers’ experiences with PD before and after the intervention. Inductive and deductive thematic analysis of these interviews revealed that, although teachers exhibited some of the components of agency and engagement in the pre-intervention phase of the study such as self-efficacy and self-reflection, especially with respect to the social environment surrounding PD and how power, identity and subjection were acting in this system, in the post-intervention phase results, teachers reported shifts in perceptions of agency and engagement, with more confidence in their self-efficacy, more reflexive work in their groups, and more intentional planning when undertaking SDPD. Teachers reported taking more control and responsibility for their learning and exhibited more consideration of how and what they learned. Most teachers reported that SDPD was satisfying and productive for them and described having more trust in and from administrators with regard to their PD experiences. Agency and engagement were used as indicators of PD quality in this study, as other evaluation measures of teacher PD have failed to capture a holistic view of what and how teachers learn, how this learning contributes to their ability to understand and to meet their learning needs, and how they consider themselves as professionals.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.