Master of Education Jaakko (Jack) I. Rantanen

Factors Contributing to Teachers' Professional Growth in an Institutional Setting

Väitösaika- ja paikka:18.3.1997 klo 12 Tampereen yliopiston opettajankoulutuslaitoksen Hämeenlinnan toimipaikan auditorio, Erottajankatu 4.

Vastaväittäjä: Professori Marvin L. Klein (Western Washington University); Kustos: Professori Pekka Ruohotie; Oppiaine: kasvatustiede

This study forms a part of the international Growth Needs Project initiated and led by professor Pekka Ruohotie from the Research Center for Vocational Education at the University of Tampere. This project aims to identify the issues and explore the challenges of and opportunities for continuously maintaining professional competence in various work settings.

The purpose of the study was to identify the personal and environmental factors that enable and motivate teachers' professional development in a suburban school setting. Teachers and administrators in 17 schools were surveyed using an instrument based on earlier work conducted within the Growth Needs Project. In addition, the principals of the schools involved and some experts in the field of professional development were interviewed. Frequency, factor, variance and regression analyses were employed to analyze quantitative results.

Generally, the results confirmed that theories of proessional development based on earlier research conducted in Finland as part of the Growth Needs Project were also valid in Canada. Five organizational factors related to teachers' professional development (Institutional, Leadership, Social Interaction, Teachers' Professional Task and Obstacles to Innovation) and one individual factor (Teachers' Professional Self-Image) were found to affect professional development behaviours.

Considerable variation was observed within teacher groups and individual schools. School differences correlated strongly with the characteristics and behaviours of the principal, whose leadership role was seen to be particularly influential. It was observed that organizations can develop a "learning environment," in fact the organization itself can become a "learning organization" and thus strongly influence teachers' professional development behaviours.

The study concludes with suggestions for promoting teachers' professional growth and eliminating obstacles to innovation in a school setting.

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