Swift, Helen (2004) Research in Continuing Professional Development (the pupil's voice). In: AARE conference 2004, November 2004, Melbourne. (Unpublished)

The paper is based on doctoral research undertaken at a university to measure the impact of a part-time masters programme on schools, teachers and pupils. The focus of this paper will be the measurement of the impact on the pupils in the classroom. This was the most challenging aspect of the research. There are so many variables impacting on pupils in the classroom it is difficult to extricate from them a masters programme undertaken by their teacher. It is notoriously difficult to research the effects of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), on the course participants engaged on a masters programme. The process of professional development is very complex and it is extremely challenging to accomplish an evaluation of the contribution made by specific training to an individual teacher in terms of better outcomes for their pupils. A large number of complex variables need to be disentangled. The problem of evaluation may be difficult; however some kind of resolution was essential because the funding mechanism in the UK for masters programmes has included measurement of the impact of the programme on institutions, teachers and pupils. This is related to the government's criteria that CPD should have as its main objective the improvement of pupils' performance through the improvement of teachers' professional knowledge, understanding and skills. Therefore, masters programmes are expected to make a contribution to the general raising of standards in schools. The impact of the political climate which has influenced the development of education through legislation is a significant area of debate. The research was based on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies employing multiple sources of data. Quantitative data collection was through a survey of all the course participants on the masters programme, which includes a range of professionals, including teachers. The qualitative evidence collection enabled a more in-depth study of the views of a sample of teachers and their line managers through individual semi-structured and focus group interviews.

The paper explores some of the difficulties of the enquiry. The quantitative evidence, for example, examined tests/examinations results gained by the teachers' pupils during the period of professional development. However, there are so many influences impacting on the results that it was difficult to say with any certainty that CPD was a major contributor to a rise in standards. The emergence of such issues as how the providers measure the impact and how schools evaluate this at institutional level, illustrates the inherent difficulties of the enquiry. In terms of qualitative evidence the views of teachers and their line managers in relation to their perception of the contribution of the masters programme to raising pupils' achievement was a key feature. However, the emphasis is on 'perceived' rather than 'statistical' evidence. The theme which emerged most strongly from the qualitative evidence was the benefit perceived by teachers of 'listening to the pupil's voice' through the research undertaken on the masters programme. The perceived benefits to the pupils included: increased self-esteem; growth in confidence and better relationships with teachers. The classroom-based research undertaken by teachers, with their pupils, to ascertain their views on the educational process is the focus of this paper.

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