The value and impact of informal learning on the professional development of teachers in Further Education

Richardson, Ruth (2020) The value and impact of informal learning on the professional development of teachers in Further Education. Masters thesis, University of Sunderland.

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There is concern amongst Further Education (FE) teachers about the future of the sector due ongoing funding cuts associated with austerity policies. Continuing professional development is important for those working in the FE sector, particularly given the changing shape of workplaces and FE itself. However reduced funding can lead to what Fuller and Unwin (2005) describe as ‘restricted’ rather than 'expansive workplace environments making it difficult to find the space and time for professional development. It is therefore important to look at alternative ways of encouraging professional development for our teachers.
Research literature, both related to education and the corporate world consider informal learning to be effective and consequently an important part of the developmental process, so it is timely to consider informal learning as one possible solution to this deficit and test the theory that “….. informal learning is not an optional extra but one of the main factors that shapes what kind of human being you become.” (Coffield, 2009, p.25)
Informal learning is classified as the unofficial, unscheduled impromptu way people learn to do their work and generally takes place without much facilitation or structure. It tends to occur whenever people have the need, motivation and opportunity to learn.
This thesis focuses on establishing the value and impact of informal learning on teacher’s professional development by introducing and evaluating informal learning opportunities for a group of FE practitioners and exploring the contextual factors influencing the ability to learn well enough to implement desired solutions. Evidence is gained primarily through practitioners’ stories of experience and is influenced by an interpretivist research methodology. Findings concur with the literature and demonstrate that in order to engage in effective informal learning practitioners need time, support and recognition. Critical reflection and some proactivity on the part of the practitioner to learn are key elements for successful informal learning. (Marsick and Watkins, 1990).

Key Words: Professional Development; Informal learning; Practitioner research

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Divisions: Collections > Theses
Depositing User: Leah Maughan
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2020 09:09
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 10:46

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