Otago Polytechnic staff by Otago Polytechnic

PD preferences

Tertiary teaching staff's preferred modes of delivery of professional development opportunities change as they become more experienced.

It has been suggested that the various models for professional development (PD) can be categorised three ways. Transmissive models use unidirectional information flow, from the "teacher" to the "student". Transformative models have bidirectional information flow, removing the teacher/student hierarchy for reciprocal learning. Transitional models for PD sit between transmissive and transformative models, with bidirectional information flow but retaining a measure of hierarchy.

Amy Benians and Danny Fridberg work in Learning and Teaching Development at Otago Polytechnic, providing PD opportunities to build the capabilities of our teaching staff. These opportunities range from transmissive methods of delivery to more autonomous transformative ones. They conducted an anonymous survey of Otago Polytechnic teaching staff to find out about preferred ways of receiving PD, and about communities of practice as a specific example of a PD model. Analysis of the 98 responses revealed that almost half felt that they belonged to at least one community of practice. Sixty percent of the communities of practice they mentioned related to learning and teaching practice, including educational technology. 

Amy and Danny also found that the longer a teacher teaches, the more likely they are to see the value in participating in a community of practice for their teaching practice, and the more they are inclined towards a transformative mode of PD. By contrast, teachers with less than six years of teaching experience tended to prefer transitional-transmissive PD modes. This shows that PD needs change as teaching staff develop an increased sense of their own agency with experience. The different needs of more experienced staff warrant greater consideration and emphasis.