Using participatory action research to approach teacher professional development: an analysis of teacher talk in a writing professional learning community

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Patrick Dean Hales (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Amy Vetter

Abstract: Most teachers take part in professional development of some kind at some point in their careers. As a result, that professional development should support the development of instruction. Many teachers report that professional development neither supports their practice nor improves results. Thus, more work needs to be done on how professional development can meet those needs and what helps to support effective professional learning. In this study, a group of educators created a professional learning community using concepts from participatory action research to support their interactions and focus their work on achieving their goals. The purpose of this learning community was to discuss and improve writing instruction practices as teachers had noted that as a particular need within the school. Toward a better understanding of the functions of a professional learning community, this study focused on the language used by teachers in order to construct knowledge about writing instruction. To this end, the use of case study methods and discourse analysis provided a vehicle to tell the story of this learning community through the teacher talk that took place. The data analysis developed across three phases. In the first phase, general themes from the talk and how it helped or hindered participants from constructing knowledge emerged. These themes were called modes of intercommunication. The second phase deepened the understanding of the language as the modes were subdivided into certain features based upon the purposes of teacher talk and how they aided or did not aid in constructing knowledge about writing instruction. The last phase included an analysis of survey data as it revealed educator perspectives of professional learning and changes in the learning community across all the meeting. This was held against changes that occurred in the teacher talk to better understand how the language use in the learning community changed. Findings from these three phases indicate that teacher professional learning can be supported through frameworks that promote teacher talk that is consistent, challenging, and action-oriented.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Discourse analysis, Participatory action research, Teacher professional learning, Writing instruction
Report writing $x Study and teaching (Secondary)
High school teachers $x In-service training
Professional learning communities
Action research in education
Communication in education
Discourse analysis

Email this document to