Learning from each other: compensantory professional development in physical educational

Por: Kathleen Armour e M. R. Yelling.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Continuing professional development (CPD) is widely viewed as a key element of school improvement strategies [1]. In the UK, the government has made a major investment in CPD for PE teachers in an attempt to raise educational standards. This study draws on data from experienced PE teachers to examine ways in which they learn.


Data were collected using in-depth interviews (20 teachers), open ended profile questionnaires (a further 65 teachers) and year-long case studies (10 teachers). The methods were sequential and interlinked with each data phase informing the next. Data were analysed both individually as teacher case studies and collectively identifying patterns of experience and recurring themes [2].


A key finding discussed in this paper is that although a traditional model of CPD (mainly one-day, off-site courses) predominated in these teachers’ CPD histories, they placed the highest value on learning together and from each other. Indeed, these teachers routinely compensated for the shortcomings of official (and sometimes mandatory) CPD with a form of unofficial CPD that they found to be more effective. Hence, they developed learning strategies that included developing informal support networks and learning from respected colleagues. They were acutely aware of the shortcomings of much of the ‘official’ CPD, but felt powerless to change things in order to have more control over their career-long professional learning.

Discussion / Conclusions

This research has important implications for teachers, CPD providers and policy-makers. If CPD is to meet the expectations placed upon it to raise the standards of pupil learning, then better models of teacher learning should inform it [3, 4]. In particular, if PE teachers are developing professional learning communities [5] or communities of practice [6] that function to compensate for the perceived shortcomings of official forms of CPD, then it seems clear that CPD policy and provision should take cognizance of this teacher learning reality.



  1. Day, C. (1999). Developing Teachers: The Challenges of Lifelong Learning. London, Falmer Press.
  2. Stake, R.E. (2000). ‘Case studies’. In N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds). Handbook of Qualitative Research 2nd Edition. London: Sage. 435-486.
  3. Garet, S.M. et al. (2001). American Educational Research Journal, 38, 4, pp. 915-945.
  4. Guskey, T. R. (2002). Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice. 8, 3/4, 381-391.
  5. Newmann, F. M. et al. (1996). Authentic Achievement: Restructuring Schools for Intellectual Quality. San Francisc: Jossey-Bass.
  6. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




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