Detailed Program of the Conference

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The current Conference time is: 16th Aug 2022, 11:39:08pm CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel session - H.5 Reinventing Professional Learning And Development
Thursday, 03/June/2021:
2:15pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Howard Stevenson
Session Chair: Aileen Kennedy
Location: Room 9

Session Panels:
H.5. Reinventing Professional Learning and Development

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Daniela Frison

University of Florence, Italia

Higher Education is internationally encouraging actions and strategies to foster the development of academic knowledge more situated and 'real world' oriented (Winberg, et al., 2011). These strategies can be framed under the umbrella term Work-Integrated Learning, which is often adopted quite broadly with reference to the connection of theory with workplace experiences. It is also used interchangeably with the terms practice-based learning, vocational learning, experiential learning, and co-operative education. WIL refers to curricular, pedagogic and assessment practices, across a range of academic disciplines that integrate formal learning and workplace dimensions. It is instrumental in achieving several educational outcomes, such as the development of employability skills (Jackson, 2015), of professional identity (Bowen 2018; Del Gobbo, Frison, & Pellegrini, 2021), and the facilitation of students’ transition to the workplace (Billett, 2009).

The contribution focused on a work-integrated learning experience carried out at the University of Florence with the aim of supporting future lifelong learning professionals in exploring career opportunities, developing a professional identity and a positive attitude toward Professional Learning and Development.

At the international level, we find blended practices and experiences referred to as virtual or simulated work-integrated learning (Fong & Sims, 2010; Sheridan, Gibbons, & Price, 2019) or digital workplace learning (Littlejohn & Margaryan, 2014) in which students, teachers and stakeholders cooperate within an ICT-mediated learning community. The aim of these proposals is to provide students with a digital, de-situated environments that allow them to benefit from a connection with the world of work, even if at a distance, by incorporating elements that refer authentically to professional contexts and challenges. Due to the Sars-Cov-2 health emergency and the forced stoppage of regular traineeship activities in Italy, a digital work-integrated learning model was proposed to master’s students on Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. Four modules were designed and implemented, each of them with a different focus:

  1. encouraging a reflection on professional prefiguration
  2. enhancing knowledge about educational services and organizations
  3. enhancing knowledge about educational services’ management processes
  4. designing a personal and professional development plan (PDP).

The PDP was proposed at the end of the process to encourage future professionals to reflect upon their own learning, take responsibility for their study and career path, and plan for their personal, educational and professional development. A total of 147 volunteer students were involved. The contribution will present the digital WIL model, based on a collaborative partnership between the research team and representatives of local educational organizations. Business representatives were involved in the design and implementation of the modules through interviews and the development of problem-based activities and work-related assignments.

Modules and activities will be widely described. A specific focus will be devoted to PDP. Results from the content analysis of steps and strategies identified by students and their final reflection on their Professional Development will be presented.


Claudia Fredella, Luisa Zecca

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy

This contribution illustrates a case study (Yin, 2013) carried out at the IC Gobetti of Trezzano S/N (Milan) on the topic of citizenship education aims at enhancing teacher professional development; the research investigate the representations and the teaching practices, through the voice of teachers and students (Cook-Sather, 2006), in relation to Citizenship and citizenship education social constructs (Pineda-Alfonso et al., 2019).

A mixed-method approach (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2017), was chosen consistent with the need, on the one hand, to involve the entire educational team (n. 129), and on the other hand, to make a qualitative in-depth geared towards understanding teaching/learning processes. A questionnaire survey for teachers and two focus groups with students of low secondary classes were conducted.

Analysis of the questionnaires shows that the most frequently used terms ("right", "respect" and "duty") refer to an idea of citizenship stricto sensu of a mainly political-legal nature (Costa, 2005). In defining citizenship education, the term "respect" is the most recurrent, however, it presents a multiplicity of meaning, that refers to ethical and value dimensions and, in the case of respect for others and differences, to a cosmopolitan approach (Benhabib, 2008). The different constructs are reflected in the responses on educational objectives, compared with those of the National Indications of 2012 and the New Scenarios of 2018, declared pursuable by 76% of teachers.

About teaching practices, emerges the use of texts/websites attested in 34% of respondents and only 32% declare to have activated collaborations with institutions or associations in the local territory (for example, the experience of the Municipal Council of Boys and Girls).

The focus groups with students evidence the skills acquired as pertaining to the complex level (García Díaz, 1995), of engagement with socially alive issues (Legardez, 2016) on sustainable and durable development mostly. The transcripts analysis identifies significant evidence: the connection between the local and global experiential dimensions and the shift from recognizing problems to proposing solutions, an attitude characteristic of an active citizenship, and emblematic of the construction of an awareness of political dimensions.

The comparison between teachers' and students' voices provide input for evaluating, reflecting on, and rethinking teachers' practices.

Benhabib, S. (2008). Cittadini globali. Cosmopolitismo e democrazia. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, presence, and power: “Student Voice” in educational research and reform. Curriculum Inquiry, 36(4), 359–390.

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2017). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. 3rd edn Sage Publications Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

García Díaz, J. E. (1995). La transición desde un pensamiento simple hacia un pensamiento complejo en la construcción del conocimiento escolar. Revista Investigación En La Escuela, 27, 7–20.

Legardez, A. (2016). Questions Socialement Vives, et Education au Développement Durable. L’exemple de la question du changement climatique. Revue Francophone Du Développement Durable, hal-017947, 1–10.

Pineda-Alfonso, J. A., De Alba-Fernandez, N., & Navarro-Medina, E. (Eds.). (2019). Handbook of Research on Education for Participative Citizenship and Global Prosperity. IGI Global.

Yin, R. K. (2013). Case Study Reserach - Design and Methods. Sage.


Eimear Holland, Fiona KIng

Dublin City University, Ireland

Taylor and Cranton (2013) accuse transformative learning [TL] theory researchers of being “stuck on a treadmill...repeating the same research over and over again” and plead with them “to enhance the theory" (p. 34). This paper suggests that TL theory does not need to be re-invented but that it must be used less to retrospectively ‘evaluate’ professional learning [PL], and more to prospectively ‘create’ (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001) PL models that explicate ‘how’ TL may be realised in reality. Whilst communities of practice (CoP) are believed to potentially stimulate TL experiences (Kennedy, 2014), further research needs to be conducted to better unveil ‘which’ and ‘how’ PL interactional processes result in growth and transformation (Van Kruiningen, 2013; Holland, 2021). In addition to PL questions related to ‘with whom’, ‘which’ and ‘how’, this paper promotes the consideration of an ‘as what / whom’ question. It addresses the traditional neglect of teachers ‘as’ primary beneficiaries of PL by exploring ‘how’ a participatory action learning action research [PALAR] CoP can facilitate teachers’ personal ‘growth trajectories’ (Holland, 2021) through an array of professional identities (Boylan et al., 2018), including: teacher, researcher, leader and person (Poekert et al., 2016). This study considers an under-explored phase of the PL continuum for early career teachers, whose PL is more likely to be washed out due to their lack of influence (Hick et al., 2018), and how schools can be hierarchical (Nugus et al., 2012) and vertically structured settings (Pyrko et al., 2017).

This study tracked 7 primary early career teachers (3 years) as they engaged in a PALAR CoP focused upon ‘leadership for inclusion’. Participation included attending 6 PALAR CoP workshops and interacting online through What’s App and a Trello Board. Teachers also engaged in projects such as: presenting at conferences, acting as ‘teachers in residence’ and writing for publication. Engagement with PALAR processes including but not limited to: setting priorities; exploring and solving problems; evaluating projects (Chevalier and Buckles, 2013); presenting and celebrating (Zuber-Skerrit, 2002), were used to explicitly drive PL. Data were gathered through the audio-visual PALAR CoP workshops, artefacts and interactive e-technologies over a period of 3 years. Inductive and deductive data analysis was undertaken with the teachers as co-researchers.

The findings address Evan’s (2019) question about whether particular forms and sites of PL are more transformative than others, offering PALAR CoPs as one answer. The findings indicate that teachers' personal and professional growth as teachers, leaders and researchers can be attributed to the explicit development of the three CoP dimensions: domain (leadership for inclusion), community, and practice. The findings also indicate that PALAR processes provided a pedagogical framework (Anderson et al., 2015) for the CoP, infusing the CoP dimensions with democratic interactional and dialogical transformative experiences and outcomes. It was also deemed significant that the co-adaptive approach of the PALAR CoP provided time, space and support for teachers to evolve through the multiplicity of identities (Amaral-da-Cunha et al., 2020; Holland, 2021) at different stages of the journey and to varying degrees.


Franco Passalacqua1, Barbara Balconi2

1University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy; 2University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy

This contribution reflects upon ways in which to support professional learning and development (PLD) from the initial phase of the teacher's career, i.e., the first years of the primary education degree program. In particular, we want to explore the role of the degree program as a crucial resource oriented not only toward providing prospective teachers with the professional skills required to teach children and to manage learning environments but also toward honing the prospective teacher's capacity for continued development and learning throughout the course of his or her career.

The debate over the meaning of professional learning and development (whether transformative, reproductive, durable, individual or collective) and over the conditions under which it is to be implemented in work environments is to be placed within the context of pre-service training in order to provide us with an overall view of the prospective teacher's training resources and strategies. It is therefore appropriate to examine the primary education degree program and the way in which it is designed closely. To what extent does pre-service training promote "transformative professional learning"? What ideals does the primary education degree program promote in terms of professionality and professional skills? To what extent does the degree program, as a prominent part of the teaching and learning system, work "in and against" this system or offer prospective teachers the opportunity to question the system itself?

This contribution analyzes the perceptions of prospective teachers enrolled in the primary education degree program at the University of Milano-Bicocca of their own initial PLD. The five-year master's degree program, which was introduced in 1998/1999 and is a requirement for all kindergarten and primary school teachers, entails 300 credits (CFU) distributed across three main areas: four traineeships (at the primary school with a teacher supervisor and at the university with a university supervisor); thirty courses in educational psychology, teaching and learning methodologies and subject didactics; and workshops and practical activities.

The research question addresses the way in which pre-service teachers conceptualize their own professional development and learning throughout the third year of the degree program. We want to reflect upon the impact of the degree program, and of two courses in particular (Research Methodology in Education and Models and Elements of Curriculum Design) on this process of conceptualization. We are interested in exploring the collective teacher identity as well as the reflective and critical dimensions of teaching practice as represented by the responses regarding PLD provided by pre-service teachers.

Data was collected in January of 2021 via questionnaire administered to third-year students in the primary education degree program at the end of the aforementioned courses. A reflexive thematic analysis of the data from 169 valid questionnaires was performed. Only one item from the questionnaire, a brief narrative strictly related to PLD, is considered in the present contribution. According to the received responses to this question, perceived PLD depends primarily upon the ongoing availability of opportunities to supplement teaching and learning theory with practice and upon opportunities for self-reflection.


Ilaria Salvadori

University of Florence, Italia

Teachers have been gradually considered a key variable in improving students’ learning and formative success (Biesta, 2017; Capperucci, 2013; Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Franceschini, 2019; Margiotta, 1999). Global education policies have heavily invested in their professional development to meet the demands of the current highly competitive knowledge economy but have often ended up reproducing the functionalist model of an accountability and profit rationale. The Italian Ministry of Education developed a plan for continuing professional development. Law 107/2015 also established the allocation of a bonus as a form of teaching merit according to criteria identified by the School Assessment Committees.

According to a qualitative analysis carried out on a sample of comprehensive institutes in Tuscany (Salvadori, 2020) the indicators considered more valid for a merit-based system refer to responsibility and participation, but it remains the implicit risk of a functionalist drift (more work = more merit = more salary) with a school at the crossroads between market laws and democratic principles (Baldacci, 2019). A new vision of merit (Boarelli, 2019) is required rested on shared involvement with colleagues.

The paper proposes diverting teacher professional development towards the acquisition of expertise as the exercise of shared, inclusive, and collaborative leadership for professional learning in which teachers can transform daily practices starting from their micro-level development (Evans, 2014) in conscious acting (service) for the others. It can happen in a community where everyone can best express their abilities as talents, "giving voice to the polyphonic and uninterrupted song of divergences" (Sadin, 2019, p. 189). Effective professional development focused on teachers’ needs (Korthagen, 2017) and inclusive teacher leadership can become a responsive tool to empower educators, since we are always in search of the optimal mix (Guskey, 1994).

Baldacci, M. (2019). La scuola al bivio. Mercato o democrazia? Milano, FrancoAngeli.

Biesta, G. (2017). Education, Measurement and the Professions: Reclaiming a space for democratic professionality in education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49, 4, pp. 315-330.

Boarelli, M. (2019). Contro l'ideologia del merito, Bari-Roma, Laterza.

Capperucci, D. (2013). La scuola in Europa. Politiche e interventi dell’Unione Europea in materia di istruzione e formazione. Franco Angeli, Milano.

Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E.; Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Palo Alto, CA, Learning Policy Institute.

Evans, L. (2014). Leadership for professional development and learning: enhancing our understanding of how teachers develop. Cambridge Journal of Education, 44(2), 179-198.

Franceschini, G. (2019). Colto, competente o consapevole? Modelli di insegnante a confronto. Studi sulla Formazione, 22(2), pp. 253-270.

Guskey, T. R. (1994). Professional development in education: in search of the optimal mix, in in T. R. Guskey and M. Huberman (eds) Professional Development in Education: New Paradigms and Practices New York: Teachers College Press.

Korthagen, F. (2017). Inconvenient truths about teacher learning: Towards professional development 3.0. Teachers and teaching, 23(4), 387-405.

Margiotta, U. (1999). L’insegnante di qualità. Valutazione e performance. Roma, Armando Editore.

Sadin, E. (2019). Critica della ragione artificiale. Una difesa dell’umanità, Roma, LUISS.

Salvadori, I. (2020). La questione del merito docente. Annali online della Didattica e della Formazione Docente, 12(20), 314-335.


Giuseppina D'Addelfio

Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy

The paper highlights Husserlian phenomenology as a fruitful pedagogical paradigm for adult education philosophy. Actually, through a comparison with the Transformative Learning approach as developed by Jack Mezirow, phenomenology is presented as providing a peculiar account on learning from experience as well as on reflection.

More precisely, a stress on the value of reflection in adulthood is detected both in the Deweyan line of thought, as expressed by Mezirow, and in the Husserlian one, as developed also in Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Ricoeur.

My aim is to show that, even though the reflective approach has certainly affected contemporary education, chiefly the phenomenological reflexive attitude -- however less often explored with pedagogical purposes it may be -- can be particularly precious in educational theory and practice. Actually, a phenomenology-oriented education paves the way not only to some practical and professional skills but, more deeply, to an existential and ethical competence, i.e. a genuine adult life.


Eglė Pranckūnienė1, Jūratė Valuckienė2, Sigitas Balčiūnas2, Milda Damkuvienė2, Evanželina Petuvienė2

1Centre for School Improvement, Lithuania; 2Vilnius university, Lithuania

Research question: How transformative model of teachers’ and school leaders' professional learning is helping to create a learning community at municipality level focused on students' learning, as well as their professional agency?
In the last 30 years Lithuanian public education experienced an especially rapid and contradictory transformation. Despite complex external and internal pressures, today educators are looking for new opportunities to enhance their professionalism. In 2009, The Ministry of Education and Science initiated a long-term educational project entitled “Time for Leaders” which has aimed on the development of leadership capacity at municipality level and included teachers, school heads, municipality‘s decision makers and stakeholders (Pranckuniene et al., 2011) all focused on impacting the learning experience of students in Lithuanian schools. The project is intended to be completed in 2021 by which time all 60 municipalities and 15,000 educators in Lithuania would have been involved.
The conceptual basis of the project integrates several theoretical frameworks, such as:

  • System leadership – improvement of each school and the entire education system by nurturing educating leaders at all levels – classroom, school, municipality and state (Pont et al., 2008).
  • Leadership for learning – creation of powerful and equal conditions for learners, professionals, and the entire system in which leaders “persistently and publicly focus their and the attention of others on teaching and learning” (Fink, Hargreaves, 2005);
  • Professional capital, which is the foundation of enhanced educational performance and sustained educational improvement as it unites individual and collective responsibility at the system level (Fullan, Hargreaves, 2012).

The project provided multiple professional development opportunities: group and individual coaching, creative project-based work, long-term training programmes on educational leadership, MA studies in educational leadership, national and international study visits and short-term training programmes based on individual needs of each municipality. The complexity of our work demanded us adapting a model of transformative learning offered by Kennedy (2014) , one of nine different models in relation to their capacity for supporting professional autonomy and transformative practice. Another underlying approach embraced the notion of developing professional learning communities, as these appear to hold ‘considerable promise for capacity building and sustainable improvement’ (Stoll et al., 2008). Transformative learning cannot happen effectively unless working alongside each other. The project team is conducting an on-going study blending the theoretical frameworks of “leadership for learning” and “professional capital” which includes more than 9000 teachers and 500 school leaders. The findings of this paper reveal the potential of a transformative model of professional learning by creating sustainable learning community taking into account unique social and political context of municipality. The analyses of data indicates that transformative professional learning practices are helping educators to strengthen their professional agency by focusing on a concrete educational innovation in parallel with building professional networks. The auto narrative of project team members uncover challenges trying to weave all the threads of the project together for the main goal –the enhancement of professional capital in Lithuania.

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