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Fostering Teachers' Professional Development through a Project-Based Research Learning Environment and Performance Assessment Dr. Fostering Teachers' Professional Development through a Project-Based Research Learning Environment and Performance Assessment Dr. Miriam Welicker Oranim Academic College of Education, Tivon 36006, Israel

The researcher conducted three workshops on research methodology for in-service teachers, with the aim The researcher conducted three workshops on research methodology for in-service teachers, with the aim of investigating and exploring a school project, and fostering reflection on it. The aims of this study were to examine – Teachers' perceptions of their professional development Teachers' attitudes towards the learning environment and procedure, and the portfolio formative performance assessment procedure approach, related to the project-based research procedure. approach procedure

Population 43 in-service elementary school teachers studying at the Oranim Academic College of Education, Population 43 in-service elementary school teachers studying at the Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel. Participated in 3 research workshops as an optional course (N=13+14+16). Integrated Jewish-Arab groups.

Workshop procedure 56 -hours (throughout the academic year) Long-term goals: to foster teachers’ life-long Workshop procedure 56 -hours (throughout the academic year) Long-term goals: to foster teachers’ life-long learning By means of: Reflection about their project-based work Investigation of the school environment The reading of professional literature

Constructivist learning environment Multi-stage & Multi-directional interactions Instructor Instruction & Assessment Teacher Assessment of Constructivist learning environment Multi-stage & Multi-directional interactions Instructor Instruction & Assessment Teacher Assessment of the teachers' research of their own projects by portfolio.

The workshop stages Study of educational research Reflective journal (4 -6 weeks) on methodology The workshop stages Study of educational research Reflective journal (4 -6 weeks) on methodology - quantitative and an optional school project (existing qualitative paradigms {frontal & or one started at this point). cooperative learning} Summing up the reflective Instructor journals Research problem definition, Teacher Group discussion on each project-based research problem derived from their own journals Teacher

Formulating a research rationale (background, problem, aims, significance) Exploring the project (literature & interviews) Formulating a research rationale (background, problem, aims, significance) Exploring the project (literature & interviews) Developing & validating the research instruments Constructing a research proposal and action plan Conducting the project-based field research accompanied by a reflection Processing and analysis of data Submitting the final report Conclusion, discussion and recommendations for improving the investigated school project

Assessment: At each stage Formative evaluation by both teacher and peers (written & spoken Assessment: At each stage Formative evaluation by both teacher and peers (written & spoken dialogue) Rewriting, accompanied by a reflection The final research report An improved version Included insights and conclusions regarding the project, and a reflective summary about the workshop learning environment (process and product), and their professional development and growth. •

Interviews With 15 teachers Portfolio (5 from each group) Reflections on each task & Interviews With 15 teachers Portfolio (5 from each group) Reflections on each task & a reflective summary A questionnaire (developed by the researcher): 8 open-ended & 44 closed-ended questions (14 on the learning environment + 30 on the portfolio performance assessment procedure) (Likert scale: 1 = not important, hasn't contributed to 4 = very important, contributed greatly).

The teachers ascribed great importance to the project-based learning environment and to the formative The teachers ascribed great importance to the project-based learning environment and to the formative assessment strategy: M=3. 88 (SD=0. 32) Their reasoning highlighted – (out of 4) The constructivist approach Awareness of their professional development The need for life-long learning.

Generally – The challenging constructive active learning environment enhanced growth The teachers felt they Generally – The challenging constructive active learning environment enhanced growth The teachers felt they had become highly motivated autonomous learners A challenging atmosphere, stimulating curiosity and raising questions, respecting teachers’ professional status, encouraging growth. Indicates their internal locus of control and professional development

Eased my way into academic study I feel that I grew and developed personally Eased my way into academic study I feel that I grew and developed personally as well as professionally. Motivated me to conduct ongoing research Enlightened my academic way The most fascinating stage was the questionnaire development and data analysis: I felt like ‘giving birth’ something new!

Ongoing structuring of knowledge, life-long meaningful learning, pedagogical maturity, insights : I experienced a Ongoing structuring of knowledge, life-long meaningful learning, pedagogical maturity, insights : I experienced a deep understanding and insights regarding the wonderful world of research Trigger for thought Deepened my development understanding Helped me to clarify Served as a guide & torch for other courses my misunderstanding and confusion regarding other courses

Acquisition of important applicable academic and inquiry skills: Provided tools for in-depth investigation and Acquisition of important applicable academic and inquiry skills: Provided tools for in-depth investigation and critical reading I acquired a lot of academic skills, which will help me investigate practical questions and learn about my students from different angles

Increased personal autonomy, self-confidence in coping with school project processes, through reflection, building and Increased personal autonomy, self-confidence in coping with school project processes, through reflection, building and implementing their own action plan, throughout their action research: Investigate unpleasant frustrating daily school-life phenomena and analyzing them Daring to confront Trying out my suggested alternative plan, ending by feeling more confident

Authentic self-regulated project-based research process: Relevant and Authentic to day-by-day teachers’ work I loved Authentic self-regulated project-based research process: Relevant and Authentic to day-by-day teachers’ work I loved the fact that the research topic was my own choice, from my ‘real’ professional life problems I feel that the research comes out from my ‘deep self’ The research problem arose from each participant’s private territory

Working gradually, studying step-by-step, systematically and according to a schedule It made the whole Working gradually, studying step-by-step, systematically and according to a schedule It made the whole ‘heavy’ process easier, very effective and worthwhile It forced me to take responsibility. Today, at the end of the year, I have a complete research ‘at hand’! I wasn’t thrown into deep waters, but was ‘hugged’ by an excellent caring assistance all through the way I’m a very disorganized person. This format helped me function in an organized way

Growth through constructive dialogue Investment of time throughout the year was well worthwhile, I Growth through constructive dialogue Investment of time throughout the year was well worthwhile, I learned and grew so much! Enables progress at a personal rate An excellent and amazing model for imitation A different, wonderful and fascinating way of learning

Contribution to the teachers’ status at school: The research procedure contributed to their social Contribution to the teachers’ status at school: The research procedure contributed to their social and professional status at school. However, this was sometimes accompanied by frustration and difficulties in leading change at school (related to the studied project). As part of the research conclusions and insights, they raised some specific alternatives for coping with these difficulties

Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio and reflection: Despite the continuous Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio and reflection: Despite the continuous 'hard labor' process which accompanied the performance assessment - most of them felt professional and academic improvement throughout the rewriting process, when considering the instructor & peer comments. Improved the quality of my research I learned a new effective way of guiding and assessing my students Contributed to my teaching and learning effectiveness

Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio – opportunity to improve: I Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio – opportunity to improve: I was guided to the “right” way Motivated me to improve constantly The important thing was the rewriting stages at each step – the serious, relevant and formative comments contributed so much to my learning

Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio – opportunity to improve: They Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio – opportunity to improve: They admit that its beneficial effect could not be achieved through a one-time task, at the end of the year. The opportunity to improve and rewrite their report made them feel they had been treated fairly. They appreciated this way of working, and mentioned clarity, transparency, coordination of expectations, lowering of stress and threat, and mutual respect.

Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio – opportunity to improve: Conducting Teachers’ perceptions of the diagnostic formative assessment via portfolio – opportunity to improve: Conducting your own research isn’t so frightening and threatening as I thought before The constructive quick comments presented respectful attitude to me and to my work, and motivated me to improve ‘on line’ Stress-free fruitful learning process Lowers our stress, so we are confident, relaxed and feel capable Respectful attitude towards me

Significance This study widens the perspective on constructivist theory and its implications for cognitive Significance This study widens the perspective on constructivist theory and its implications for cognitive and professional development. The study provides evidence that a constructivist learning environment, autonomous project-based learning, diagnostic and formative alternative assessment with the use of accompanying reflection and portfolios, are an effective way of portfolios * Empowering teachers as efficient and autonomous learners * Enhancing their internal locus of control, awareness of the control importance of investigating educational projects and environments to promote their life-long learning and professional development.