Thesis (Ed.D., Leadership and Counseling)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | The following Dissertation in Practice (DiP) consists of three parts: (a) a single qualitative case study which examined professional development opportunities in a small, rural school district in Southeastern Idaho, (b) a secondary qualitative analysis (SQA) which examined adult learners' expectations of agency (Bandura, 2001), and learning as part of a community when experiencing Professional Development (PD) courses, and (c) a white paper intended for stakeholders to consider plausible policy or procedural changes informed by the findings of these inquiries.
The case study, an individual study, examined both the teaching and professional development experiences of six K-12 educators to determine the teaching methods they deemed effective, and whether such methods were currently being utilized in district PD. It was found that the majority of participants modeled the following higher-order teaching strategies within their classrooms: (a) creating agentic learning environments, (b) advocating for informed risk taking, (c) offering frequent opportunities for collaboration, and (d) establishing meaningful relationships between teacher and student, allowing the teacher to assess student needs and progress.
The SQA, a collaborative study, examined data from the case study in conjunction with data collected by a fellow researcher investigating the experiences of undergraduates regarding agentic course design. Both studies shared the themes of agency, risk taking, and collaboration and the roles they play in adult learning.
Implications for practice from the individual study included suggestions for districts to model higher-order teaching skills in PD by incorporating agency, informed risk taking, collaboration, and relationship building, thus enabling teachers to provide students with similar opportunities for higher-order learning. Implications for practice from the collaborative study included guidelines to inform the creation of a well-designed PD course, focusing on principles such as agentic learning and community building. When put into practice, these elements encompass a high-quality PD experience for learners. These findings are reflected in the suggestions for change found in the white paper.