Understanding teachers' professional development : the impact of the target oriented curriculum
Abstract of thesis entitled
Understanding Teachers' Professional Development: The Impact of the Target Oriented Curriculum
Fung Lo Mun Ling
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
at the University of Hong Kong
in October 2000
This is a five-year longitudinal study of the impact of the Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC): a top-down, state mandated reform, on teachers?professional development. By taking a perspective that focuses on teachers?learning during the reform process, it allows the reform, the context and the interaction between them to be taken into consideration. The study focuses on two interrelated areas of inquiry; namely, understanding how the TOC affected teachers?professional development and the conditions which seemed to explain why this occurred. Given the nature of the research questions, a case study approach was used, and the main data collection method was by individual interviews. Other methods ?like direct observation and document review ?were used for triangulation purposes. Starting with a large database, the study then focuses on one school ?P.C. Memorial Primary School and two teachers in the school ?Mary and Shirley. The study goes beyond just describing teachers' state/level of professionalism and analyses how change occurs.
Contrary to the proposition that such educational reforms serve to diminish the professional autonomy and compromise the ideology of teachers, the findings of this study suggests that the TOC, despite its well documented deficiencies, served as a source of critical events which both provided authentic learning situations and promoted reflection for some teachers. It also provided conditions which served to facilitate reframing and professional development for some teachers.
What happened in P.C. Memorial Primary School shows that the success or failure of a reform effort is a relative matter. It depends on what was in focus and considered to be important. Also the response of individual teachers to the same conditions differed very markedly. This is exemplified by the different opportunities to learn created for the two teachers in the same school, which accounted for their different paths of professional development.
Although this study is in a very specific context with a very specific culture, it nevertheless contributes to our understanding of how teachers?professional development can be facilitated during a reform process. It also contributes to understanding the dynamic nature of reforms as they interact with a school? organizational structure, school culture and teachers?professional development.
This study also shows that one must be cautious of a bird's eye view to evaluate reforms, because a broad generic overview will miss the impact on individual teachers. The meanings that teachers attached to their experiences varied and reflected differences in personalities, beliefs and values, as well as past experiences and life histories.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:education primary china hong kong curricula longitudinal studies elementary school teachers professional socialization
Date of Publication:01/01/2001