Enhancing teachers' learning: Implications and recommendations

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Administration|Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Teacher Training




Adult learning is a highly studied topic (Brookfield, 1994; Cross, 1981; Knowles, 1970; Merriam, 2001). The best approach for working with adults (Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, & Scott, 1994; Lyons, Pinnell, & DeFord, 1993; Steffe & Gale, 1995) is socially constructed and where intellectual development is a process of making meaning with others (Vygotsky 1981). ^ Research in the area of adult learning has been instrumental in influencing the design of professional development. This growing body of literature increasingly recognizes that teachers' knowledge is gained from and embedded in their everyday interactions with children and should be the center of reform efforts and professional development activities (Darling-Hammond, 1994; Lieberman, 1995). To that end, teachers who have opportunities to dialogue, study, and reflect on teaching and learning with their peers appear better able to improve their instructional practices (Lieberman, 1995; Wilson, Peterson, Ball, & Cohen, 1996). ^ The vehicle for this study, Reading Recovery, is “a system-wide intervention that involves a network of education, communication, and collegiality designed to create a culture of learning that promotes literacy for high-risk children” (Lyons, Pinnell, & DeFord, 1993, p. 3). Through Reading Recovery training and continuing contact (professional development), teachers examine their practice and engage in conversations with colleagues and others who both challenge and support their learning. ^ David Kolb (1984, p. 38) explored the learning process and the creation of knowledge through the transformation of experience. Barry Sheckley (2003) adapted Kolb's work and explored the dynamic process of the experiential learning cycle as well as the transition of learning to the workplace (Sheckley, 2003, 2004; Sheckley, Boyle, & Kehrhahn, 2001; Sheckely & Keeton, 2001). ^ Finally, extensive research by Jon Saphier and Robert Gower in the area of teaching behaviors and situations led to the identification of conditions vital to teacher learning in the workplace (1997, p. 561–576). This study explored the reflections of seven Reading Recovery trained teachers and their administrators and measured the extent to which the conditions vital to teacher learning in the workplace were met in this cross-case analysis. ^