Connecting policy, practice and professional learning: a case study

Ab Kadir, M. Akshir (2023) Connecting policy, practice and professional learning: a case study. Educational Research, 65 (4). pp. 496-514.

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Background: A general shift towards competency-based curricula has meant that, for quite some time, skills including critical thinking have been central considerations in educational policy reform internationally. However, what happens at the policy level is only one aspect of change: gaining a deep understanding of how new curricula are approached and interpreted in practice, at the classroom level, is crucial. Purpose: This study sought to explore connections between policy, practice and professional learning in the context of a critical thinking policy. The aim was to investigate teachers’ perspectives to address the following research questions: What are teachers’ perceptions and knowledge base of critical thinking? And how, and to what extent, do teachers incorporate critical thinking into their classroom practices?

Methods: The study employed a collective case study approach. Participants were a sample of six teachers (three beginning and three experienced teachers) in Singapore. Data collection involved teacher interviews, lesson observations and the gathering of students’ work. The data were analysed qualitatively.

Findings: Through in-depth analysis of data, four major themes emerged, which characterised the teachers’ perceptions, knowledge and classroom practices of critical thinking in relation to the policy context: (i) gaps in teacher knowledge; (ii) contextual factors shaping teacher knowledge; (iii) teacher knowledge shaping practice; and (iv) contextual factors shaping practice.

Conclusions: This study offers, from the perspectives of teachers, insight into the connections between policy, teacher practice and professional learning, and points to systemic and contextual factors that can represent barriers and enablers to the enactment of a critical thinking policy. More broadly, it deepens the understanding of factors that may shape policy enactment at the classroom level, highlighting the crucial role played by teacher knowledge in effecting educational change.

Item ID: 80967
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1469-5847
Keywords: classroom practice, critical thinking, educational policy, policy enactment, teacher knowledge, teacher learning
Copyright Information: © 2023 NFER
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2023 01:36
FoR Codes: 39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390201 Education policy @ 50%
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390307 Teacher education and professional development of educators @ 50%
SEO Codes: 16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1603 Teaching and curriculum > 160399 Teaching and curriculum not elsewhere classified @ 50%
16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1601 Learner and learning > 160104 Professional development and adult education @ 50%
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