Hastening slowly: insights about teacher development from an evaluation of courses at the WCED’s Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute
In the area of teacher professional development, South African education administrators
face the challenge of reconciling two imperatives that have entirely different implications
for programme time frames and budgets. On the one hand, there is an urgent need to
improve the pedagogic content knowledge of many teachers to improve the overall standard
of teaching and learning in the public school system. Considering the scale and urgency of
the matter, centralised course-based in-service training seems to be the only affordable
alternative. On the other hand, researchers have long warned that once-off course-based
training on its own has limited impact on teachers’ practice, and has to be accompanied by
further professional support in the school and classroom, or be abandoned in favour of more
enduring professional learning communities. The Western Cape Education Department
(WCED) has grappled with this dilemma in the Department’s various professional
development initiatives for teachers, a mainstay of which is the training offered by the Cape
Teaching and Leadership Institute (CTLI). This paper presents some of the data and
findings from an external evaluation that ORT SA CAPE conducted in 2011–2012 of
courses offered by the WCED at the CTLI. The hierarchy of INSET outcomes proposed by
Harland and Kinder (1997) was applied to record changes in the practice of 18 teachers at
eight schools. The progress of five of the teachers is discussed to illustrate the interplay
between school-level factors and the experiences of individual teachers which influenced
the impact of CTLI training on their teaching.
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