Theses Doctoral

Implementing a District -Wide Professional Development Initiative: What It Means to Educate for the 21st Century

Villanueva, Alison

Focus on education for the future, often termed 21st Century education, is on the minds of educators and much is being said about particular ways to enact curricula and teaching that supports the needs of 21 century thinking, learning, and teaching. 21st century skills, frameworks, system/practitioner examples that apply these skills and a variety of literature on the different structures and content have been disseminated through articles, professional development, and district-wide initiatives. However, there is an absence of literature that focuses on how system wide initiatives, rooted in 21st Century research, impacts teachers and their perceptions of teaching and learning. In this study, the discourse on 21st Century education is defined in relation to educational frameworks that outline specific skills students and teachers need in order to be successful in academic and workplace settings in the 21st Century. The objective of the study was to answer the following research questions (1) How does a district-wide PD initiative focused on educating students for the 21st Century impact teachers' examinations and revisions of assessments, curricula, and instructional activities? (2) How does a district-wide PD initiative focused on educating students for the 21st Century impact three 10th Grade English teachers' examinations and revisions of their literature curricula and instructional activities? (3) What factors influence the ways teachers react to the PD plan implemented in the EEF initiative?
Through a qualitative examination of a professional development initiative called Envisioning Education for the Future (EEF) 2010-2013, this research study aims to bridge a gap between theory and practice by examining how Parnell School District attempts to achieve the goal of enhancing their teaching and preparation of students for the 21st Century. I explore how Parnell School District provided its teachers opportunities to focus on providing a more global-focused education by offering, a coherent professional development plan that focused on activities that included: assessment creation, instructional activity adaptation, curriculum design, practitioner reflection, and student work analysis.
Outcomes from this study include recommendations for how to overcome logistical obstacles; address teachers' varying levels of self-efficacy; adapt curricula, teaching strategies/activities, and classroom assessments to reflect more 21st Century skills. What was also revealed during this study was the emergence of a new discourse amongst teachers and researchers as they attempted to create a common language around 21st Century education. This discourse is referred to as a Critical 21st Century Discourse.
The EEF PD initiative encouraged individuals to examine their assumptions and biases by engaging teachers in deep questioning about their teaching philosophies in their particular disciplines, providing teachers with activities that facilitate teachers reflections on existing beliefs and ideologies and the impact thereof, and by providing teachers with the research literature and experiences that help broaden perspectives of underlying critical issues to investigate how teaching is impacted


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Vinz, Ruth
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2013