Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Anita Brown

Second Advisor

Tricia Kress

Third Advisor

Jack Leonard


The content, skills, and pedagogy integral to a teacher's initial foundation must continually undergo a metamorphosis as emerging knowledge and research about learning and the pressures to implement standards-based reform shape pedagogical practices. Teachers must never cease to learn. Governing bodies on both the national and local level have called on professional development (PD) to maintain the currency of content and pedagogy in its teaching force. Lately, educators have been called upon not only to change their practice, but to meet the myriad changing structures that define teaching and learning.

The national focus on PD has generated a body of research on the characteristics of high quality professional development (HQPD). One type of HQPD that is gaining national momentum is job-embedded professional development. Despite the high quality of job-embedded professional development, it does not always lead to professional learning.

This case study was conducted to explore how professional learning is defined and experienced within the context of a U.S. urban high school; and how it converges and diverges with the literature on 1) knowledge and practice, 2) democracy, 3) the principles of andragogy and constructivism, 4) collaborative inquiry, 5) professional capital, and 6) collective teacher efficacy. Data collection included interviews and focus groups with multiple stakeholders, document analysis and the observation of a facilitator's meeting. Data analysis and transcription techniques were carefully chosen to highlight the voices of the stakeholders, and a small unit of analysis was exposed before consideration of an aggregate group was discussed.

The study found that at this site, the planned professional learning experiences are consistent with all of the elements of the literature, but the experienced professional learning is lacking elements of democracy. The convergence of the planned and experienced professional development learning experience, and the principles discussed in the literature suggest that a focus on collaboration, looking at student work, and the emerging innovations represented in "flipped learning" pedagogy comprise the richest opportunities for professional learning at the research site.


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