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Knowledge sources and autonomy: German and Swedish teachers’ continuing professional development of assessment knowledge
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2012 (English)In: Professional Development in Education, ISSN 1941-5257, Vol. 38, no 5, 741-758 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents a comparative study of German and Swedish teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD) in relation to student assessment. It investigates the sources teachers use to improve their knowledge about assessment and the relationship this has to different national contexts. Assessment, as well as evaluation, defines what counts as valid knowledge and how this can be measured. As such, assessment is a major focus of teaching and specifies constraints and possibilities for teacher practice in the classroom. Teachers are seen as agents in a regulated CPD marketplace, and within this framework teachers make decisions about the knowledge sources they use to educate themselves about assessment. These choices can be seen as expressions of what they perceive as important and relevant in relation to assessment. We argue that this expression of opinion can contribute to an understanding of teachers’ professional autonomy, especially in relation to their decisions about a crucial aspect of their profession. In this way, we propose a way to conceptualize the impact of the national context on teachers’ CPD.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 38, no 5, 741-758 p.
Keyword [en]
teacher, assessment, continuing professional development, autonomy, comparative education, knowledge sources, Germany, Sweden
National Category
Didactics Pedagogy
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85576DOI: 10.1080/19415257.2012.694369OAI: diva2:584072
Available from: 2013-01-08 Created: 2013-01-08 Last updated: 2013-01-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Development and Autonomy: Conceptualising teachers’ continuing professional development in different national contexts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development and Autonomy: Conceptualising teachers’ continuing professional development in different national contexts
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates teachers’ perceptions of continuing professional development (CPD) in Germany and Sweden with a questionnaire study comprising a total of 711 mainly lower secondary teachers. Three conceptual terms are elaborated and explained. Teachers act in a CPD marketplace that is constituted by several sources of knowledge which offer opportunities for teachers’ development. How teachers act in the marketplace is a key part of their CPD culture. The study reveals similarities in the two cases regarding the importance of colleagues as well as informal development activities, but there are also significant differences. One the one hand, German teachers can be described as more active in their CPD than their Swedish colleagues in relation to particular aspects of their profession such as assessment, and more suspicious of knowledge from elsewhere, on the other.

In order to understand the differences, I argue for an extended focus on the impact of the national context, in terms of socially and historically significant structures and traditions of the teaching profession. The thesis focuses on a crucial aspect with a particular explanatory value for differing CPD tendencies in various national contexts: Autonomy from a governance perspective. This phenomenon, which does indeed change across time and space, is investigated from a socio-historical perspective in both contexts, building on Margaret Archer’s analytic dualism of structure and agency, and a dual pronged model of teacher autonomy. The latter distinguishes institutional autonomy, regarding legal or status issues, from service autonomy related to the practical issues in schools and classrooms. Since these dimensions can be either extended or restricted, different categories evolve which enable us to understand the differences between the two cases.

Finally, by using the findings on the German and Swedish teaching profession, a theoretical framework is presented that relates the certain forms of teacher autonomy in particular national contexts to likely CPD cultures that teachers share.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University, 2013. 173 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar från Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik, 16
Teachers' continuing professional development, CPD, Teacher autonomy, Teacher professionalism, Comparative education, Germany, Sweden
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86705 (URN)978-91-7447-632-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-03-01, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-02-07 Created: 2013-01-16 Last updated: 2013-02-06Bibliographically approved

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