Teacher inquiry in New Zealand : a montage.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The study took place in New Zealand where teachers inquire into their practice to learn professionally. Teacher inquiry is a unique policy because it combines personal and professional motivations to learn. This policy places expectations on teachers to inquire into the impact of their teaching actions in terms of student learning.
I used a narrative inquiry approach to gain insight into teachers inquiry experiences. I conducted single, unstructured interviews with eleven, primary school teachers to listen to their stories. This narrative approach brought to the fore subjective conceptualisations of teacher inquiry and allowed me to use teacher stories as a construct to understand teacher inquiry further. I structured this thesis as a series of stories about context, methodology, inquiry experiences, deconstructive explorations, and impressions of the teacher inquiry puzzle.
A central research question, How can teacher inquiry be conceptualised from teachers experiences? guided the research process. This question grew into two sub-questions that featured different aspects of teacher inquiry. The first sub-question, What are teachers experiences with teacher inquiry? enabled me to expose the experiential effects of teacher inquiry. These idiosyncratic perceptions challenged me to think differently about teacher inquiry and prompted me to ask another sub-question, What insights into teacher inquiry can be gained from applying a deconstructive lens on teachers inquiry experiences? To answer this question, I examined particular elements within teachers experiences and used these elements to create deeper discussions about teacher inquiry. Since these deconstructive explorations tended to diverge from teacher stories, they allowed me to illuminate further complexities within teacher inquiry. I used these stories and deconstructive explorations to create a montage of teacher inquiry in New Zealand. This study highlights how teacher inquiry can affect teachers professional learning experiences, their teaching practices and professional identities. It brings to light the diverse ways that teachers make sense of internal and external expectations to learn professionally. I used this nuanced understanding of teacher inquiry to provide suggestions on how teachers can be better supported in the inquiry process. It is important to continue to strengthen the teacher inquiry process because it can ultimately contribute to student learning. These teacher inquiry insights can add to continuing discourse on teacher learning, because they explore the complex challenge of using teacher learning as a means to improve student learning.