Professional development and disciplinary literacy: impacting secondary teachers' perceptions and practices
Abercrombie, Jamie Baughan
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This mixed-methods study examined the ways secondary teachers’ participation in a year-long disciplinary literacy professional development impacted the ways teachers described and implemented disciplinary literacy instruction. Over the course of eight months, 31 teachers met for seven, three-hour sessions where they discussed literacy research, analyzed others’ instructional plans, and created disciplinary literacy activities and lessons. To examine changes in teachers’ descriptions of disciplinary literacy instruction, teachers’ self-reports of their disciplinary literacy were collected before and after the professional development and frequency counts of disciplinary literacy practices were taken and compared. To inspect potential changes in their disciplinary literacy instruction, a subgroup of participants were filmed three times (before the onset of professional development, at the midpoint of professional development, and following the conclusion of the professional development) and interviewed before and after the professional development. Two of these participants were also assigned control teachers (teaching the same discipline in the same school without participating in the professional development). These control teachers were also interviewed and filmed in the same windows. Through analysis of teachers’ written self-reports, video-recorded lessons, and interview transcripts, three key findings emerged. First, professional development had a substantial impact on the ways teachers described their disciplinary literacy instruction. Second, however, it had a smaller impact on their teaching. It is hypothesized that this may have been the relatively brief period for enactment of new knowledge. Third, participants reported that they identified and utilized available school-based supports to reflect on ideas presented in the professional development.