Lessons learned: trying to change science teachers' pedagogy through professional development





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This qualitative study investigated how and why high school science teachers in an urban school district choose to implement pedagogical strategies experienced in district sponsored professional development (PD). As a secondary science coach, I was interested in exploring concerns and challenges experienced by science teachers as they use instructional strategies. This topic is important because many authors agree that to bring about change in teachers' pedagogy, an understanding of how to encourage transfer of PD into full implementation is needed and Darling-Hammond (2010) and Hall and Hord (2006) specifically address the issue of support for the transfer of PD into teaching practice. Twenty-eight science teachers who participated in a specific PD in one of four summers completed a Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ) (Hord et al., 2006). From these 28, six veteran teachers with eight or more years teaching experience were selected for three classroom observations and an interview. The results of the SoCQ indicate that a majority of the participants (82%) who completed the SoCQ were unconcerned with implementing the PD. This result could be interpreted that the teachers are non-users of the PD. However, the classroom observations and interviews of a subset of teachers who completed the SoCQ indicate that teachers appear unconcerned due to distractions such as other innovations, tasks, and activities they must implement. A mature level of implementation of the PD was evident in only one of the six veteran teachers who completed the SoCQ, were observed three times, and interviewed following the classroom observations. There was no discernable pattern as to why other teachers were not as advanced in their implementation of the pedagogy. The results of this study support a need to demonstrate opportunities for teachers to integrate other tasks and activities into the pedagogy experienced in professional development.

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