KEY ASPECTS THAT AFFECT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS

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CHAPTER 2 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: ASPECTS AND TRENDS

INTRODUCTION

This chapter focuses on a literature review of professional development (PD) as a conceptual framework for this study. Thereafter, a generic discussion of this concept (professional development) is narrowed down to professional development of teachers (PDT). This is followed by the discussion of the issues and trends of PDT which culminates in the features and the nature of quality teaching. Then, the focus shifts to the literature foundation on the key aspects that generally affect PDT. For any professional development of teachers to yield fruit, these aspects have to be brought to the fore. Thereafter, an overview of different models of the professional development of teachers is given. The last section will contextualise PDT in the South African situation with particular relevance to the National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) as an example of a programme of teacher development in South Africa. By its very nature, this chapter serves as a background to the next chapter that is, chapter 3.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

The term profession originates from the Latin root, professare, which literally means to profess or to make a declaration based on one’s beliefs with regards to knowledge, experience and values (Farrugia, 1996:28). In recent years the term has developed more attributes. Matee (2009:67) defines professions as those occupations whose competencies are based on theoretical or abstract knowledge, usually obtained through higher education. According to him, people performing such competencies of a particular profession are called professionals. He further declares that the activities of a profession involve an intellectual activity, which requires professional accountability where a practitioner in the profession adheres to certain ethical codes of conduct. Starr, in Wise (2005:319) defines a profession as an occupation that regulates itself through a systematic specialised knowledge, which requires training and collegial discipline that has a base in technical knowledge which has a service provision orientation rather than a profit orientation. Literature also suggests that professions have a history and reputation as privileged work with helpful and planned objectives (WordIQ 2008:123). Traditionally, professionals were characterised by occupational practices reflecting unusual,general and systematic knowledge attributes which entitled them to organisational and operational autonomy governed by an internalised code of ethics (Farrugia 1996:30). Such occupations, to a certain extent, were static and these professions formed a system in which the middle class established cultural control and social status (WordIQ 2008:123). This traditional model of defining a profession is quite rigid and fails to recognise the flexible and evolutionary progress developing within different occupations. Farrugia (1996:30) brings in a flexible model as illustrated in Figure 2.1 illustrates two poles set at the opposite ends. Occupations exhibiting, to a greater degree, traits consistent with professions are placed close to ideal professions and those occupations that do not exhibit a profession’s traits are placed on the other end of the continuum. Placing an occupation on a continuum would depend on its degree of substantive theory, validated practice, operational autonomy, organisational autonomy, its developmental quality, prestige and esteem.This model illustrates professions as non-static, and shifting their positions on the continuum as they improve or lose their degree of professional characteristics on the above-mentioned criteria. Nicholls (2000:371), on the other hand, defines a professional as a person who has undergone a lengthy period of professional training in a body of abstract knowledge, who is controlled by a code of ethics and professional values, and committed to the core business of the organisation. From the definitions above, indications are that a professional is a practitioner (like a teacher) who undergoes a period of training, through the help of structures such as learner support, in a specific mode of delivery such as distance education(DE), where an intellectually based body of abstract knowledge, together with practical skills, are learned and mastered. After such development, the practitioner uses the acquired related knowledge and skills to provide services which serve public interest.Ferrugia (1996:28) explains the functions of a professional as a declaration, based on ones’ beliefs, knowledge, experience and values. The functions of a professional have connotations of a vow or a promise, which adds to the meaning of the term profession. Once the vow has been made, acceptance into the particular society and recognition of the status of the profession is granted, although there are exceptions depending on the nature and the particular conditions under which a particular profession is operating. This view, therefore, regards the profession as greater than mere abstract knowledge acquisition and practice. Furthermore, this view contends that a profession involves a vow made, or a promise to abide by a certain code of ethics and values. Such a declaration signifies the existence of a contract, where the practitioner agrees to abide by a certain code of professional practice. Deviations from the terms of the vow may result in the disqualification of the practitioner from the profession (Matee 2009:19). Matee (2009:19) further emphasises that once the professional is admitted into the profession he or she has to comply with the practices within that profession, in order to maintain the status of such a professional. Connely and Rosenberg (2003:3) indicate the following characteristic norms as a sum of requirements, to maintain or elevate an occupation to the status of a profession, which meticulously summarises the definitions given above, as follows:
• Prescribed periods of training and induction
• The degree and complexity of knowledge required in the provision of an unique, definite and essential service
• The development of a skill and knowledge base required throughout the career of the professional
• Code of ethics that is clear and well interpreted
• A comprehensive self-governing body of practitioners
• Determined salary scales based on certain criteria such as years of experience or a particular qualification within that profession
• Specialisation and acquisition of expertise in the field of practice
• Substantial authority over actions taken in practice and taking responsibility for judgement made within the scope of professional autonomy From the above, it follows that society does however require of professionals to provide expert service to the public with excellence, competence and effectiveness in order for society to afford a particular occupation the trust and prestige status of a
particular profession (Connely & Rosenberg 2003:3). Many professions would thus require the continuing education or upgrading, or recertification or renewal of continuous practice in order to maintain the professional status of that profession. As will be argued in Chapter 3 of this study, through the structures such as learner support backed by the delivery mode of DE, the re-certification or a continuous renewal of practice of a particular profession, for example teaching, can be enhanced and maintained. Since an attempt has been made to define the term profession, the following section will now discuss the term development. Bopape (2006:28) refers to development as the process of developing or being developed, a special state of growth or advancement. The word develop means to grow and become more mature, advanced, effective or elaborate. The Dictionary of Education (2000:175) defines development as growth or change in structure, function or organisation, constituting an advance in size. For the purpose of this study, it is agreed that when teachers grow or advance further in their profession, there is development. This development can be achieved through pre-service and in- service activities. This leads the discussion to a necessary concept for the professional, namely professional development (PD).

CHAPTER 1  ORIENTATION
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 ORIENTATION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 RATIONALE AND MOTIVATION TO THE STUDY
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.5 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.6 RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES 
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS 
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.9 OPERATIONAL CLARIFICATION OF TERMS 
1.10 CHAPTER DIVISION 
1.11 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2  PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: ASPECTS AND TRENDS
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
2.3 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS: ISSUES AND TRENDS
2.4 THE NATURE OF QUALITY TEACHING
2.4.1 Characteristics of quality teaching
2.4.2 Levels of teaching skills
2.4.3 Developmental stages of teachers
2.5 KEY ASPECTS THAT AFFECT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF TEACHERS
2.5.1 Models of professional development of teachers
2.5.2 Key features of a PDT programme
2.6 THE CONTEXT OF PDT PROGRAMMES IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.6.1 The complexity of teaching
2.6.2 Teacher quality and its challenges in South Africa
2.6.3 The responses to the challenges of PDT programmes
2.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3 
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: A CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY IN LEARNING
3.3 DISTANCE EDUCATION: HISTORY AND TRENDS
3. 4 ASPECTS OF LEARNER SUPPORT IN DISTANCE EDUCATION
3.4.1 Course materials
3.4.2 The concept of learner support
3.4.3 Critical learner support structures in DE
3.4.3.1 Support offered at registration
3.4.3.2 Study support services
3.4.3.3 Contact sessions as learner support measure
3.4.3.4 Technological support
3.4.3.5 Feedback measures as form of learner support
3.4.3.5.1 Oral feedback.
3.4.3.5.2 Written feedback
3.4.4 Summative remarks on the nature of learner support in a DE setting
3.5 LEARNER SUPPORT CONTEXTUALISED TO THE NPDE PROGRAMME AT UNISA 
3.5.1 The origin and historical background of UNISA and the NPDE
3.5.1.1 University of South Africa: Historical background
3.5.1.2 The National Professional Diploma in Education: Historical background
3.5.2 The implementation of critical learner support services in the NPDE programmes at UNISA
3.5.2.1 Support offered at registration
3.5.2.2 Study support services
3.5.2.2.1 UNISA library
3.5.2.2.2 Bureau for Counselling, Career and Academic Development
(BCCAD)
3.5.2.2.3 The Financial Bureau
3.5.2.3 Contact sessions as learner support measure
3.5.2.4 Technological support
3.5.2.4.1 Audio conferencing and video conferencing
3.5.2.4.2 Satellite broadcasts
3.5.2.4.3 Telephone facilities
3.5.2.4.4 E-mails and faxes
3.5.2.4.5 myUnisa facility
3.5.2.5 Feedback measures as form of learner support
3.6 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4  RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 THE RATIONALE FOR EMPIRICAL RESEARCH 
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.3.1 Phenomenological study
4.3.2 Research paradigm
4.3.3 Research approach
4.3.3.1 Constructivism
4.3.3.2 Qualitative research
4.3.3.3 The role of the researcher
4.4 RESEARCH METHODS
4.4.1 Population and sampling procedures
4.4.2 Data collection methods
4.4.3 Data analysis and interpretation
4.5 MEASURES FOR TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.5.1 Credibility
4.5.2 Dependability
4.5.3 Conformability
4.5.4 Transferability
4.6 ETHICAL MEASURES
4.6.1 Permission and access for collecting data
4.6.2 Informed consent
4.6.3 Confidentiality and anonymity
4.6.4 Caring and fairness
4.7 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5  DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 ANECTODAL OVERVIEW OF FIELDWORK
5.2.1 Background information about the research sites
5.2.2 Seeking permission
5.2.3. Initial preparation and sample procedure
5.2.4. Providing information
5.2.5 Preparing for data collection
5.3 DATA ANALYSIS
5.3.1 Open-ended questionnaire
5.3.2 Focus group interviews
5.4 DATA INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
5.4.1 Theme 1: Learner support offered at registration
5.4.1.1 Orientation and counselling
5.4.1.2 Information offered at registration
5.4.1.3 Staff attitude
5.4.1.4 Congestion
5.4.1.5 Registration materials
5.4.1.6 Study materials
5.4.2 Theme 2: Study support services available to NPDE learners
5.4.2.1 Learners’ knowledge about the study services
5.4.2.2 Library services
5.4.3 Theme 3: Contact sessions as learner support measure
5.4.3.1 Organisation of contact sessions
5.4.3.2 Tutor support
5.4.3.3 Peer support.
5.4.3.4 The use of ICT during contact sessions
5.4.3.5 Travelling
5.4.3.6 Costs
5.4.3.7 Sleeping accommodation
5.4.4 Theme 4: Technological support offered to NPDE learners
5.4.4.1 Telephone facilities
5.4.4.2 Computers
5.4.4.3 E-mails and faxes
5.4.4.4 myUnisa facility
5.4.5 Theme 5: Feedback measures as form of learner support
5.4.5.1 Negative feedback
5.4.5.2 Insufficient feedback
5.4.5.3 Timely feedback
5.4.5.4 Corrective feedback
5.4.5.5 Mutual feedback
5.4.6 Theme 6: Knowledge of NPDE learners about the critical learner support structures intended to help them
5.4.7 Theme 7: Learners’ needs for learner support
5.5 SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6  OVERVIEW, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 SUMMARY OF THE STUDY
6.2.1 Chapter 1
6.2.2 Chapter 2
6.2.3 Chapter 3
6.2.4 Chapter 4
6.2.5 Chapter 5
6.2.6 Chapter 6
6.3 CONCLUSIONS.
6.3.1 Conclusions relating to the research question: What are the most important aspects of teachers’ professional development?
6.3.2 Conclusions relating to the research question: What is the role of wellorganised learner support services in upgrading under-qualified teachers’ qualifications through distance teaching?
6.3.3 Conclusions relating to the research question: What do empirical data reveal on NPDE learners’ awareness and perceptions of learner support?
6.3.3.1 Positive perceptions
6.3.3.2 Negative perceptions
6.3.4 Conclusions relating to the main research question: What are the main constituting elements of learner support in upgrading under-qualified teachers through DE?
6.3.5 Summary
6.4 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.4.1 Recommendations: Implementation of learner support in PDT programmes using DE as a delivery mode
6.4.2 Recommendations: Learner support at registration
6.4.3 Recommendations: Study support services
6.4.4 Recommendations: Contact sessions as learner support measures
6.4.5 Recommendations: Technological support
6.4.6 Recommendations: Feedback measures as means of learner support
6.5 RECOMMENDED AREAS FOR FURTHER STUDY.
6.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS

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LEARNER SUPPORT IN THE PROVISION OF DISTANCE TEACHING PROGRAMMES FOR UNDER QUALIFIED TEACHERS

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