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The view from the deck - exploring lecturers’ and middle managers’ perceptions of English FE sector professional development: a case study evaluation

Goldhawk, Andy

The view from the deck - exploring lecturers’ and middle managers’ perceptions of English FE sector professional development: a case study evaluation Thumbnail


Authors

Andy Goldhawk



Abstract

The focus of this research was to investigate both how further education (FE) lecturers and middle managers engage in professional development and what they perceive to constitute effective professional development. This focus represents an area of stark paucity in the literature that requires attention in this historically under-funded, yet evermore burdened, education sector (Hodgson, 2015; Lucas and Nasta, 2010; Lucas, 2004a; Robson, 1998) that can ill afford to divert scarce time and money to forms of professional development that do not incur some form of salient learning. The original contribution of this work is located both in addressing this paucity and in developing an existent framework for the evaluation of professional development (proposed by Fraser et al., 2007) that can be applied in future research.

Framed by an epistemology of social constructivism and as an insider researcher (Floyd and Arthur, 2012), I used semi-structured interviews with lecturers and middle managers and conducted thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2016) of the data.

I found that there are contrasting understandings between the participants of mandatory professional development and the planners (senior managers) regarding the underlying purposes of professional development, underpinned by divergent conceptualisations of professionalism in the sector. Mandatory professional development was perceived as generic and transmissive (Kennedy, 2005) (didactic) in nature, and often perceived as irrelevant to the professional learning needs of those mandated to attend. Non-mandatory professional development was characterised as addressing critical learning needs as identified by participants, albeit with little organisational support afforded to this form of professional learning. While mandatory professional development tends to comprise top-down communication of policy priorities, the professional learning needs of FE lecturers are often sidelined. Lecturers and middle managers therefore frequently address their own professional learning needs in their own time, at their own expense, which appears to perpetuate a culture of cynical compliance among professional educators in the sector (Coffield in Daley, Orr and Petrie, 2015).

Effective professional development was found to involve: the voice and agency of the learners in determining the focus of learning; opportunities for reflection; suitable physical conditions for learning; active learning and an element of fun; and learning in a community and landscapes of practice (Wenger, 2014).

Citation

Goldhawk, A. The view from the deck - exploring lecturers’ and middle managers’ perceptions of English FE sector professional development: a case study evaluation. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/5203438

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 18, 2020
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/5203438

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