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Creating and learning through design: teacher professional development for 21st century learning
Paper presented at the 9th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning (RWL9), Singapore, 9-11 December 2015
Twenty-first century learning is encapsulated in educational experiences that engage students to develop socio-cultural, cognitive, metacognitive, productivity, and technological competencies for the 21st century workplace. While the fostering of 21st century skills is fast becoming an educational imperative, empirical studies have found it to be absent in teachers’ pedagogical practices. The learning models to support the integration of 21st century skills have yet to be pervasive in classroom teaching and learning practices. Coupled with the unique contexts of schools, classrooms and students, teachers face a significant design task when it comes to the creation of pedagogical practices to foster 21st century skills. Teacher professional development therefore needs to equip teachers with the necessary skills to design their pedagogical repertoire for engendering 21st century skills in students.
This study first describes the theoretical conception of a professional development framework that is designed to support the creation and learning of new professional practices. Drawing upon the conceptions of design thinking described by researchers such as Donald Schön and Nigel Cross, this process emphasizes opportunities for teacher engagement of reflection-in-action through continual opportunities for the iterative framing, developing, and reflection of design ideas. The process also exemplifies how target scaffolds, social scaffolds, and process scaffolds can be used to support this process.
The study then describes how this process was implemented with three teams of ten teachers at a Singapore primary school throughout a school year. Using a multiple case study approach, the pedagogical changes implemented by each team was analyzed according to the themes underlying 21st century skills and described. The professional knowledge generated by teachers as well as their perceptions of the usefulness of the professional development process were also examined from the teachers’ reflections. Through these analyses, the study will surface the considerations for implementing design-driven teacher professional development. It will also discuss the implications for work-based professional development programmes that foster the innovation of professional practices.
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