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 Continuing Professional Development for Lecturers

 Continuing Professional Development for Lecturers

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Table of Contents

Introduction. 3

Purpose of Research; 4

Rationale and Scope. 4

Research question and hypothesis, 5

A Review of Literature. 5

CPD Strategy. 5

Teachers CPD and Action Research. 7

Research Methods. 9

Research Tool Selection and Use of Semi-Structured Interviews. 9

Methods of Analysing and Discussing Findings; 12

Ethical Considerations. 13

Conclusions 14

Introduction

Teacher development is a vicious ending cycle, which is never ending because teacher learning continues as long one remains in the profession. Thus, university lecturers learn all the time and engage in research and teaching. The means to ensure the learning of students is to participate in professional development.  Thus, continuing professional development (CPD) is used to imply” the activities in which teachers engage during the course of a career which are designed to enhance their work‟ (Day & Sachs, 2004, p. 3). Kelly (2003) established that CPD activities are needed to promote ongoing teacher learning and ensure that teachers move towards expertise. A current study by Husband (2015) has indicated that lecturers feel insufficient emphasis has been placed on meeting special educational needs, vocational skills training, and classroom management techniques. In addition, Lecturers have agreed that CPD in learning and teaching remains important to lecturers although there is no meaningful engagement with the currently available training options. Thus, CPD is important to lecturers because it can be used to help them develop their teaching and research capabilities (Chambers, 2011).

Colleges and universities are supposed to fulfill the various needs in post-compulsory education by narrowing the divide between learning and teaching and learning practice (Gallacher, 2006). The facilitation of student learning by lecturers requires high skill levels and a deep understanding of the practice and theory of pedagogic methodologies. Thus, lecturers have to be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge as part of professional development practices. Professional development is centrally important in enhancing and maintaining the quality of learning and teaching in schools.  Chambers (2011) established that professional development was an important constituent of successful school development and level change. In universities and colleges where teachers could have adequate to access new ideas as well as be able to share experiences, school and classroom performance are improved. Improving schools requires institutions to invest in the development of their staff as well as creating new opportunities for teachers’ need for collaborative teaching and sharing of best practices (Husband, 2015). Thus, attention to teacher learning is directly associated with students’ improvements in achievement and learning.

Purpose of Research;

The purpose of the proposed study is to determine whether university lecturers feel they are appropriately supported to develop their teaching and research through CPD and who should be responsible for CPD.

Rationale and Scope

This proposed research is built on Husband’s (2015) research which established that most lecturers felt that they did not have adequate support from universities or the government in order to develop their teaching and research through CPD. Thus, this study is to be undertaken in an effort to establish some of the issues and concerns raised by lecturers when developing their teaching skills and research knowledge via CPD. Such information would be beneficial to different stakeholders in the higher learning education sector.

The study is to be carried out in the United Kingdom (UK). It will be conducted at my current university and it will specifically focus on lecturers. Lecturers are directly involved in this study because the subject of the study is them. Ten lecturers will be targeted for semi-structured interviews to establish whether university lecturers feel they are appropriately supported to develop their teaching and research through CPD.

Research question and hypothesis,

In order to investigate the research problem, the study will be guided by the following research questions below: –

  1. Do university lecturers feel are appropriately supported to develop their teaching and research through CPD?
  2.  Who should be responsible for the development of CPD programs?

It is hypothesized that university lecturers feel they are not appropriately supported to develop their teaching and research through CPD.

A Review of Literature

Continuing professional development (CPD) is presently high for Higher Education in the UK.  For most higher education institutions (HEIs) found in the UK, CPD is used to provide training, which is offered provided as CPD for peripheral professions. King (2015) pointed out that HEIs regard formal courses to be the most suitable mode of teaching to provide new skills and knowledge to lecturers. There are a number of studies undertaken to ascertain the various activities carried out to develop teaching practices (Ferman, 2002). Professional development must be self-directed as well as planned within the institutional, personal, and disciplinary context. King (2015) contended that staff must be supported to enhance their understanding related to their own needs and favored learning styles in order to ensure that research and education development.

CPD Strategy

The term CPD is defined by Day (1999) as a “professional development consists of all-natural learning experiences and those conscious and planned activities which are intended to be of direct or indirect benefit to the individual, group or school and which contribute through these to the quality of education in the classroom” (p. 4). Thus, CPD is a concept of learning and it continues in one’s life via practice, work experience, and learning. The CPD is encouraged because it allows individuals to identify their individual learning needs and to promote progress. Similarly, Day and Sachs (2004) noted that CPD refers to “all the activities in which teachers engage during the course of a career which are designed to enhance their work‟ (p. 3).  These activities could include formally accredited provisions such as informal activities and Postgraduate Certificates. In the UK, the most common teaching-related CPD activities are small development grants, peer reviews of teaching, in-house teaching accreditation scheme, teaching and learning conferences and seminars, workshops, and Postgraduate Certificates in Academic Practice.

The ‘CPD Strategy’ provides an essential departure from conventional forms of In-service training (INSET) as they give teachers a number of opportunities for pertinent, collaborative, and focused approaches to professional learning. The CPD place professional development at the center of learning improvement and it provides a number of new creativities to realize this predominantly significant goal (Day & Sachs, 2004). The mix of professional development opportunities has the ability to help teachers in focusing on their own learning, promotion, and career ambitions. Subsequently, this would result in improved as well as an enhanced sense of professionalism for teachers, coupled with increased motivation for them to stay within the profession.

Importance of CPD in Learning

According to Jaafar (2006), CPD is important to lecturers as it can be used to develop their teaching and research. In a qualitative study conducted by Hustler, McNamara, and Jarvis, (2003) on teachers’ perceptions towards CPD, the findings were that CPD was seen as significant and beneficial to many teachers as a way to update their knowledge and skills that benefit of themselves as well as their students. Also, CPD allowed the teachers to focus on research, award-bearing courses, and secondments. The development activities provided under the COD were seen as particularly beneficial because they were focused, well-structured, presented by expert practitioners, linked to the school development plan, and provided the chance for teachers to collaborate and be active involvement. Hustler et al. (2003) pointed out that the rationale for CPD is to maintain professional competence, minimize professional incompetence, and maintain professional quality in a particular person.

According to Jaafar (2006), “the lecturer must see CPD as a means to realize and identify his/her strengths and weaknesses and thus to select his/her most appropriate learning pathway” (p. 1). Thus, CPD is an intellectual challenge and fulfillment that must be undertaken by the lecturer when undertaking new roles and responsibilities in order to improve skills and knowledge. So as to realize this, the lecturer must be allowed to be responsible for personal own actions and must pursue his own career development as well as setting personal goals. The individual lecturer must thus contribute to learning as well as the development of peers in order to promote the functioning of the whole team and to contribute to institutional excellence and learning.

Teachers CPD and Action Research

Action Research is a term used to describe a group of research methodologies that emphasis on personal reflection and personal empowerment (Cardno, 2003). The methodologies included in action research are such as developmental action research, participatory action research, practitioner research, collaborative inquiry, and emancipatory research (Noffke, 1997). Action research could be described as “a form of self-reflective inquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own practices, their understanding of these practices, and the situation in which the practices are carried out” (Carr & Kemmis, 1986, p. 162). This definition integrates both personal and political aspects of action research, and it reflects attention to individual practice in the classroom. In educational contexts, action research is an important aspect of research that is conducted by teachers and lecturers to understand and change their teaching by adding more value. Thus, the action that takes place in form of a systematic inquiry is the primary element in distinguishing action research from other forms of inquiry.

Action research is developed via a self-reflective spiral of cycles that entail planning, implementation, observation, reflection, and re-implementation (Kemmis, 2007; Thomas, 2013). The use of critical reflection is majorly accepted as the main and most effective means for teachers to develop deeper insight into their practice as well as career development (Forde, et al, 2006).  Reflection is both an intellectual and affective intervention and it is used by teachers to evaluate their experiences in order to develop new understandings.  Nonetheless, Admiraal and Wubbles (2005) recommended that teachers, mostly beginning teachers, face challenges, and action research and CPD are used to develop personal learning and to improve skills and knowledge.

Lassonde and Israel (2008) pointed out that more and more teachers have turned to research to inform their teaching. Thus, research is integral in improving the knowledge of lecturers and it can be achieved through action-based research. Taking action via teacher research could not only have an influence on only classroom practice but also on the education field. All the teachers in different positions in the education sector develop their knowledge through education research realized via CPD (Lassonde & Israel, 2008). Most effective teachers possess deep knowledge with regard to the courses they teach. However, when a lecturer’s knowledge falls below a certain standard, it significantly affects students’ learning. Subsequently, they seek the necessary education and learning required to improve their skills.

Research Methods

The research methodology to be used will be founded on the supposition that the qualitative, interpretive approach will allow the researcher to carry out a credible investigation into situations in their natural settings, and attempt to make sense of phenomena (such as continuing professional development and feeling of lecturers on developing their teaching and research through CPD in this case). Thus, based on the nature of this study, a qualitative research method will be applied. Thus, since the research focuses on the feeling and opinions of the lecturers, qualitative research is most suitable. Qualitative research is based on opinions and beliefs which means that the participants will be involved to reveal and explain their own personal feelings, experiences, and views (Veal, 2011).

Fossey, Harvey, Mcdermott & Davidson (2002) pointed out that “qualitative research is designed to be flexible and responsive to context, characteristically being described as emergent. This means the research questions asked in a particular study evolve in response to the setting, data, and its analysis” p. 723). The choice for qualitative research is considerably superior compared to quantitatively. For instance, it corresponds better than quantitative in terms of the nature of the subject being studied, and the findings of qualitative research are better understood as they do not involve any statistical data. Additionally, qualitative research is suitable for this study because it will offer an understanding of the feelings of the participants. Qualitative research will be used in this study to develop and identify issues studied, and provide a platform for semi-structured interviews

Research Tool Selection and Use of Semi-Structured Interviews

The primary three qualitative methods include observations, focus groups, and interviews. With regard to this study, semi-structured interviews will be used to collect data from a sample of 10 participating lecturers selected from the university. The lectures will be selected through the use of convenience sampling. Convenience sampling is selected compared to other random sampling strategies because it will allow a researcher to select participants based on their convenience and accessibility. In addition, convenience sampling will be used because it only targets people of interest in this study, who are university lecturers.

The data will be collected through the use of semi-structured interviews. According to Gill, Stewart, Treasure, and Chadwick (2008), “Semi-structured interviews consist of several key questions that help to define the areas to be explored but also allows the interviewer or interviewee to diverge in order to pursue an idea or response in more detail” (p. 292). The interviewer will use semi-structured questions when asking questions and this will allow the interviewer to discover and probe to get deeper insights into the topic being studied. The interviews have been chosen over focus groups because Onwuegbuzie, Leech & Collins (2010) argued that focus groups are not always suitable in educational research settings. In addition, emerging themes from focus groups may fail to realize the consensus and agreement of persons within the same group. Subsequently, any agreement, as well as disagreement by persons, may not be recorded correctly and subsequently discarded, censoring the person effectively. Onwuegbuzie, et al. (2010) contended that in terms of recording and accuracy, focus groups are more accurate, especially when the study is being conducted in an institution of learning.

Semi-structured interviews are chosen as the most suitable method because the participants would be in a position to recount their experiences and feelings to the researcher. Subsequently, a clear well-accurate record of each participant’s feelings, opinions, and memories would be kept and maintained (Cooper & Schindler, 2014). Semi-structured interviews are preferred over other forms of interviews because they allow for greater exploration of a topic where the interviewer will use the guide to make that he can prompt responses to particular and relevant areas associated with the research. For, the researcher deemed it suitable to use of a semi-structured approach to interviewing would be most appropriate (Punch, 2009). Semi-structured interviews would allow participants the freedom to respond to questions openly but with the interviewer providing guidance to the interview with questions and prompts to make sure that information pertinent to the research is elicited.

The semi-structured approach proposed for carrying out the interviews will be conducive to operating within a phenomenological hermeneutics framework. The interviews will be designed in such a manner that they allow the participants to respond freely to the questions asked and share their experiences, feelings, and opinions. The use of structure to the interviews is necessary to ensure that the participants are guided via the subject areas and be not limited in answering options as well. In principle, phenomenological hermeneutics is suitable for this study as they allow the development of an understanding of the participant’s opinions and position via experiences and emotional interpretation (Denscombe, 2010; Laverty, 2003). A conducive environment is necessary to ensure that the participants are able to respond to the questions freely. Furthermore, the interviewer will be able to make gentle prompts and provide clarifications without any influence.

Yin (2011) discussed the importance of undertaking a pilot study. Carrying out a pilot allows the researcher to try out the provided questions, provide discussion to the answers, try various approaches and test the techniques being applied. The responses are then evaluated to provide feedback from the pilot participants to assist the interviewer in refining the interview guide. As such, the areas of exploration will be identified to ensure that the researcher does not deviate from the research and objectives. The researcher will complete two pilot interviews by making use of trusted colleagues who understand the subject and would be willing to help with the questions to be asked (Dawson, 2009). The researcher will then use the findings from the pilot studies to fine-tune the interview schedules to ensure that they are in line with the study’s purpose and objectives.

Methods of Analysing and Discussing Findings;

The data will be gathered through the use of interviews in order to elicit participating lecturers’ views if they feel is appropriately supported to develop their teaching and research through CPD and who should be responsible for CPD. Interviews will be undertaken with 10 participating lecturers selected from the university. Systematic coding will enable the researcher of this project team to develop analytic categories that illustrate the lecturers’ views.  Researchers will also record notes during the face-to-face sessions, and the notes will be analysed inductively depending on open coding (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2011).  Topics will then be arranged from emerging codes and notes and then organized into themes depending on converging responses from lecturers to identify common patterns.

The audio tapes will be transcribed and the gathered data analysed using inductive content analysis. Content analysis is a qualitative approach (Graneheim & Lundman, 2004). Qualitative research is applied to investigate a phenomenon, in an in-depth as well as holistic fashion, via the collection of narrative materials through the use of a flexible research design. Graneheim and Lundman (2004) have noted that analysis of qualitative data is both an interactive and active process.

The qualitative data will be analysed by following five phases: familiarization, identification of a thematic framework, followed by indexing, then charting and mapping, as well as interpretation (Pope, Ziebland & Mays, 2000). Content analysis is the process to be used to analyse qualitative data and it entails organizing and incorporating narrative, qualitative information based on emerging concepts and themes. The procedure for analysis of verbal communications to be used is systematic with the purpose of establishing quantitatively measuring variables (Polit & Beck, 2008). Inductive content analysis to be used is composed of open coding, and the creation of categories as well as an abstraction (Elo & Kyngäs, 2008).  The unit of analysis to be used in the proposal will be emerging themes.

The written material will first be read and re-read by the researcher, and notes made that describe the different aspects of the content. Headings will then be created from the complied notes. From the content, the headings will be classified into subcategories and then followed by further categories. In addition, the names will be allocated to the classes according to the content. The findings will be presented and made ready for interpretation.

Ethical Considerations

There are a number of considerations that the researcher must be cognizant of when developing, carrying out data collection, and reporting the findings of the study. This part of the proposed study briefly outlines considerations of quality, ethics, and accountability

In terms of ethical considerations, free and informed consent is important (Robinson & Lai, 2006). The participants must be respected and for this reason, consent must be acquired before undertaking the study.  According to  Orb, Eisenhauer, and  Wynaden (2001)“respect for people is the recognition of participants’ rights, including the right to be informed about the study, the right to freely decide whether to participate in a study and the right to withdraw at any time without penalty” (p. 95). Thus, the researcher will allow the participants to participate of their own free will and the right to withdraw at any time from participation without penalty. The researcher is to submit an application for consent that outlines the research’s purpose, ethical considerations, and any possible harm to participants. Additionally, since the research project is to be carried out in a learning institution setting, the researcher will obtain consent from the management and all the potential participants. Finally, the researcher will ensure the possible participants do not feel feeling pressured and coerced to participate in the project.

The other ethical consideration related to the prevention of harm among the participants (Robinson & Lai, 2006). Harm to participants, in this case, could be a result of the dissemination of research results to third parties without their consent. The researcher will thus balance the potential harm related to the research method by ensuring trustworthiness. Additionally, pseudonyms use is recommended to avoid the revelation of the participant’s identity, in case the results are published.

The researcher is aware of the effects of the research in case it extended beyond the borders of the lecture rooms. Thus, in case making results public, the researcher will consider issues of anonymity and confidentiality. Confidentiality and anonymity will be ensured by ensuring that the names of the participants are replaced with pseudonyms. In addition, the findings will be kept in a locked room and a laptop with an encrypted password. This will prevent any form of access by any an unauthorized persons.

Finally, it is always necessary to be accountable when undertaking research projects.  Day et al. (2006) pointed out that “We should be accountable to those involved in the research as well to those who trust the results of the research; we should account for the outcomes as well as the processes that lead to those outcomes” (Day et al., 2006, p. 452). The aspect of accountability will be addressed by ensuring that the aim and objectives goals as well as major questions of this study were established.

Conclusions and Recommendations

There is a gap in the literature pertaining support of university lectures on their learning and research through the use of CPD. Literature on this issue is limited, hence the need for this study to establish the feeling of lecturers. The literature reviewed has depicted that CPD is sought by lecturers to keep up-to-date their skills, knowledge, and attitudes professionally. Also, CPD is highly instrumental in coping with change, and its important in delivering better education to students. The CPD strategy is superior compared to CPD because it entails an array of activities required to improve the skills and competence of lecturers. CPD is necessary for lecturers because it helps them maintain professional competence, reduce professional incompetence, and ensure professional quality in a person.

The research will be carried out through the use of a qualitative research design. Data will be collected through the use of semi-structured interviews, and inductive content analysis used to analyse the data. The interviews are selected because they are easy to undertake. Qualitative research is suitable because it is founded on the contention that the qualitative, interpretive approach would allow the researcher to undertake a credible investigation into situations in their natural settings, and attempt to make sense of phenomena, which is continuing professional development and establishing the feeling of lecturers on developing their teaching and research through CPD.

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