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Enhancing literacy through collegial learning?: Evaluation of a teachers’ training programme
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Umeå Centre for Evaluation Research (UCER). (UCER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6255-9991
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science. (UCER)
(UCER)
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test of 15-year-olds’ reading skills is used to assess and benchmark the quality of national education systems, and PISA is a key pillar in the production of knowledge used to shape policy for steering educational systems (Carvalho, 2012; OECD, 2009). Although the validity of PISA for measuring quality in education systems has been questioned (Hanberger, 2014; Mangez & Hilgers, 2012), it is frequently used by policymakers for this purpose and OECD/PISA has a great influence on how quality in education systems is conceived. National education discourses and policies are significantly influenced by PISA tests and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) recommendations (Breakspear, 2012; Grek, 2010; 2012; Lawn, 2011). Sweden has a decade of declining PISA results and OECD has suggested that Sweden should take action to reform its education system to improve quality and equity (OECD, 2015). One example of the influence OECD and PISA have on Swedish education policy is a recently launched teacher training programme. The programme, initiated by the Swedish government in 2013 with explicit reference to the country’s failings in PISA, is supposed to enhance teachers’ collegial learning in literacy and aimed to improve teaching and student literacy, and Sweden’s performance in coming PISA tests (Ministry of Education, 2013).

The programme, the Literacy Lift, is currently implemented on a full scale and evaluated during its course to fine-tune the implementation of the programme. On commission by the National Agency for Education (NAE) to evaluate the programme, the authors of this paper along with our colleagues have published two interim reports on the material used for collegial learning and the effects of the programme after the first year of implementation.  In this paper we will analyse this programme with a purpose to unfold and probe the assumptions underpinning the Literacy Lift, a Swedish teacher training programme to enhance collegial learning in order to develop teaching that promotes literacy, in this case language-, reading- and writing-skills among the students. The paper will also explore what effects and consequences the programme has had so far.

The paper integrates knowledge from evaluation and education research. Programme theory (PT) evaluation (Leeuw 2003) unfolds how programme makers (the government and NAE) intend to improve the quality in the Swedish education system with this programme, and probes the consistence of the programme’s PT. The PT refers to the assumptions as to how the intended effects can be achieved. Stakeholder evaluation assesses how the main target groups (school owners, principals, supervisors and teachers) perceive effects, intended and other effects, and consequences of the programme.

Education research is used to analyse the programme’s contribution to improve quality in the education system and to probe the programme’s PT. Some education research used to inform policy underscores the importance of teaching quality in improving student learning and performance (Hattie 2009) and of holding schools accountable for learning outcomes (Atkinson et al. 2009; Hamilton, Stecher, Russell, Marsh & Miles 2008; Musset, 2012). School improvement research focuses on “change and problem-solving in educational practice” (Creemers & Reezigt 1997). School improvement does not occur if the “school culture” is not “favourable”, that is, schools “must have shared goals and feel responsible for success”. In addition, there must be a culture of “collegiality”, “risk taking”, “mutual respect and support”, and “openness” (Creemers & Reezigt 2005, 363).

Methods

A programme theory analysis unfolds the programme theory and probes the assumptions. Programme theory is a well-established concept used in evaluation research referring to the assumptions as to how a programme achieves its intended effects. There are various approaches to reconstructing and articulating a PT. This paper adopts a policy-scientific approach (Leeuw, 2003). The PT analysis presented includes three main steps: reconstructing the programme’s PT; analysing the PT’s internal validity (i.e. the consistency of its assumptions); and analysing the PT’s external validity (i.e. whether it is supported by relevant research and provides feasible knowledge for resolving the problems it is intended to resolve). The stakeholder evaluation (Hanberger, 2001) collects data from target groups and assesses programme effects and consequences from the perspective of school owners, principals, supervisors and teachers. The assessment focuses on achievement of objectives, other effects and consequences of the program, as experienced by these target groups.

A variety of data is used. Policy documents and interviews with senior administrators is used

to reconstruct the programme’s PT. The analysis of the stakeholder evaluation is based mainly on questionnaires to the four target groups with additional supplemental interviews with school owners and supervisors.

 

Expected outcomes/results

Since the programme is continuing, being expanded and slightly revised during its course this paper can only present preliminary results. The paper demonstrates the programme’s PT and probes its consistency. The assumption that the training programme can enhance collegial learning can be expected to gain support, but the contribution to improve student’s performance in upcoming PISA cannot. The effects on collegial learning and literacy didactics improvement will vary between different groups of teachers and related to factors such teachers’ motivation and support from principals and supervisors. How teaching is affected and students’ literacy improved will vary according to a number of factors and conditions, e.g. what teachers have learned and how much of this is translated into teaching. The persistence of effects will depend on such as ongoing support from school owners and principals in providing time for collegial learning and applying the content of the programme in the classroom.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Quality of education system; teacher training; collegial learning; literacy improvement; PISA
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-139568OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-139568DiVA: diva2:1142151
Conference
ECER, Köpenhamn 22-25 augusti
Available from: 2017-09-18 Created: 2017-09-18 Last updated: 2017-09-18

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