Article notes: Models of Continuing Professional Development: a framework for analysis – Aileen Kennedy

‘Article Notes’ is a set of blog posts in which I write down my notes about articles that I read. These notes are not meant to be ‘academic’ or ‘formal’; rather, they are my ramblings and immediate thoughts in reaction to the content I read. I’ve written them up to help me remember the article, and to share my thoughts with those who are interested. I welcome you feedback and comments!

Summary and notes

In this article (download here), Kennedy goes over a summary of model of continuing professional development (CPD) from a mainstream education perspective. She identifies nine key models, and expands on what these models are, how they might be implemented, and some of the positives and negatives of each. These are the nine models:

  • The training model: Basically you standard transmission model of development in which content “is ‘delivered’ to the teacher by an ‘expert’, with the agenda determined by the deliverer, and the participant placed in a passive role” (Kennedy, 2005, p. 237).
  • The award-bearing model: A step up from the training model, although with external validation from, generally, universities. Control is exerted by awarding bodies.
  • The deficit model: In essence, CPD that focuses on what teachers can’t do. This involves someone being the evaluator of teachers, and thus power resides again from a top-down position. This is very much focused on performance management.
  • The cascade model: An interesting model, and one that I think is familiar to many ELT contexts. Basically, this is where “individual teachers [attend] ‘training events’ and then [cascade or disseminate] the information to colleagues” (Kennedy, 2005, p.240). Pretty sure most of us who have been ‘sent’ to a conference have had to do this.
  • The standards-based model: This one was very interesting, and I love what Kennedy (2005, p.241) writes: “The standards-based model of CPD belittles the notion of teaching as a complex context-specific political and moral endeavour; rather it ‘represents a desire to create a system of teaching, and teacher education, that can generate and empirically validate connections between teacher effectiveness and student learning’ (Beyer, 2002, p.242)”. This is where we try to move towards a standardised model of ‘the teacher’, which is of course problematic.
  • The coaching/mentoring model: In short, a model that emphasises a one-to-one relationship between two professionals. The difference between the two (as mentioned in the text) is that coaching is skills-based whereas mentoring is very much the critical friend. There are many possibilities of ‘combinations’ here; for example, an early-career teacher might be partnered with an experienced teacher, or two experienced teachers might be paired Alternatively, as in my context, the sessions are between a DoS/trainer and the teacher. I can definitely see how the power difference affects these sessions, and also how the ‘coaching’ sessions are very much skills-based, although I think skilled questioning and ‘opening up’ by the coach allows for more of a two-way dynamic.
  • The community of practice (COP) model: Kennedy writes that COPs are in essence very similar to coaching/mentoring, although there are more people and the element of ‘confidentiality’ is missing. COPs are usually groups of people who get together and choose to research/chat about/explore something. For these to be effective, the group’s focus needs to be decided on by all members (and not simply guided by only one ‘expert’).
  • The action research model: Ok, another that is familiar to most teachers/teacher educators, at least in name. Basically, this is a model that encourages teachers to explore their own context by asking ‘research’ questions, carrying out small-scale research, and reflecting on their findings, with the hope that this research is transformative fr the teacher in some way.
  • The transformative model: This one is surprisingly less ‘clear’ than other model, as Kennedy (2005, p. 246) writes: “The central characteristic is the combination of practices and conditions that support a transformative agenda. In this sense, it could be argued that the transformative model is not a clearly definable model in itself; rather it recognises the range of different conditions required for transformative practice”. Basically, it is the ‘best of ALL worlds’ approach, with just the right amount of all the models spoken about – although this amount may differ depending on the context in which CPD is being conducted. Kennedy (2005, p.247) also mentions that this is effective especially when power relations are considered; i.e., “whose agendas are being addressed through the process”.

You’ll notice that there is a strong focus on the power relationships in the above summaries. That is by no accident. Kennedy is adamant that these power relationships need to be identified and acknowledged, something I found really interesting (and agree with).

Kennedy (2005, p.247) also proposes a list of questions to be used as “tools for the analysis of model of CPD”:

  • What types of knowledge acquisition does the CPD support, i.e., procedural or propositional?
  • Is the principal focus on individual or collective development?
  • To what extent is the CPD used as a form of accountability?
  • What capacity does the CPD allow for supporting professional autonomy?
  • Is the fundamental purpose of the CPD to provide a means of transmission or to facilitate transformative practice?

I think these are brilliant questions to include within the evaluation of any development programme. I look forward to using these at the end of this academic year.

Kennedy (2005, p.248) also included a table showing the Spectrum of CPD Models, which I found really useful for getting my head around everything:

What I’ve gathered is that at the top things start simple and power is very much top-down. As we move ‘down’ the spectrum, things get more complex, messy (hence so much avoidance within institutions) – but also more ‘transformative’ and beneficial for teachers and, ultimately, learners. I know I’m simplifying it here (there certainly is value in the transmission models) – but I do feel that this simple-complex statement is valid.

Overall, one of the most informative articles about teacher education I think I have ever read. I know that I need to start looking outside of ELT and into other fields, especially as I move further into teacher education and educational management – in fact, I look forward to doing so. Highly recommended read.

Points from article My thoughts
While most CPD experiences might
be considered as means of introducing or enhancing knowledge, skills and attitudes, it cannot be assumed that this is uncontested. For example, Eraut (1994) argues that it is not merely the type of professional knowledge being acquired that is important, but the context through
which it is acquired and subsequently used that actually helps us to understand the nature of that knowledge. (p.236)
Also difficult to know what input becomes intake. Any new knowledge needs to be ‘implemented’ in a supported and reflective manner. This is why the one-off ‘ideas’ sessions are usually ineffective in leaving lasting impact.
Eraut does not give explicit consideration to the role of informal professional discussion and reading that takes place outside the institutional context, yet this, too, is surely a relevant context. (p.236)Completely agree. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, one, this type of development can often be the most rewarding and impactful.
Section: The Training Model Section: The Training model
This model of CPD supports a skills-based, technocratic view of teaching whereby CPD provides teachers with the opportunity to update their skills in order to be able to demonstrate their
competence. (p.237)
I wonder how this relates to Wallace’s models?
It is generally ‘delivered’ to the teacher by an ‘expert’, with
the agenda determined by the deliverer, and the participant placed in a passive role. (p.237)
Thus, training model = traditional model of ‘education’.
…is often subject to criticism about its lack of connection to the current classroom context in which participants work. (p.237) This is why we need ‘local’ experts delivering training and working with people in their context.
The training model of CPD is compatible with, although not always related to, a standards-based view of teacher development where teachers strive to demonstrate particular skills specified in a nationally agreed standard. (p.237)Does this relate to Celta/CertTESOL in ELT?
It is powerful in maintaining a narrow view of teaching and education whereby the standardisation of training
opportunities overshadows the need for teachers to be proactive in identifying and meeting their own development needs. (p.237)
For in-service, I agree. But, pre-service? I feel there is a place for judicious use of this model, although I have yet to train on a Celta/CertTESOL course so not too sure. Perhaps what we have now is not ‘ideal’, but I know that many trainers feel that it does lay the correct foundations. Also, having worked with teachers who had been teaching for a few years before taking on Celta and seeing their outlook on teaching post-Celta was quite interesting. They seemed really motivated, and I have to admit that their perspective on development changed. That has to count for something.
Despite its drawbacks, the training model is acknowledged as an effective means of introducing new knowledge (Hoban, 2002), albeit in a decontextualised setting. What the training model fails to impact upon in any significant way is the manner in which this new knowledge is used in practice. (p.238) So, thinking about one-off training sessions – the famous ‘ideas’ sessions. Very much under the training model, but what impact do these have? Most likely very little, although they are popular with teachers. My own approach to developing these one-off sessions has changed over the years to, even if they are ideas session, ensuring that teachers’ practice and value, attitudes, beliefs and expectations (VABEs) are involved in some way.
…the training model provides an effective way for dominant stakeholders to control and limit the agenda, and places
teachers in a passive role as recipients of specific knowledge. (p.238)
Important to note.
Section: The Award-bearing Model Section: The Award-bearing Model
An award-bearing model of CPD is one that relies on, or emphasises, the completion of award-bearing programmes of study – usually, but not exclusively, validated by universities. This external validation can be viewed as a mark of quality assurance, but equally can be viewed as the exercise of control by the validating and/or funding bodies. (p.238)Ok, so this is Celta/CertTESOL. I suppose that Delta/DipTESOL falls under this as well (and MA programmes), but these seem more transformative than meeting standards, although they are governed by standards. This would be interesting to explore.
However, in current education discourse in Scotland, there is an
emphasis on professional action that is not always supportive of what is perceived to be ‘academic’ as opposed to ‘practical’. There is therefore a pressure for award-bearing courses to be focused on classroom practice, often at the expense of issues of values and beliefs (Solomon & Tresman,
Essentially moving straight to practice, jumping over VABEs.
This discourse of anti-intellectualism has led to accusations of the irrelevance of the ‘academic’ work undertaken by universities and placed emphasis instead on the practice-based element of teaching. To interpret ‘professional’ and ‘academic’ as antonyms conveys worrying messages about the conception of teacher professionalism in dominant education discourse. (p.238) I see parallels in ELT, especially regarding insights from SLA, ISLA and other linguistic fields. Teachers feel that the theory is too far detached from actual classroom practice, which to some extent it naturally is as many of these experiments/studies are done in ‘laboratory’ conditions. This being said, there is a huge amount of research that is done with real learners in real classrooms, and I feel that we as teacher educators should try to raise awareness of the insights without making teachers use the information in their practice (hopefully this comes naturally). interestingly, Lamb’s article mentioned the idea of empirical views of ideas; that is, we think that when teachers see the ‘evidence’, their opinions will naturally change – is presenting research even worth it when we know that this rational-empirical view is more often than not not the case with teachers?
Section: The Deficit Model Section: The Deficit Model
Professional development can be designed specifically to address a
perceived deficit in teacher performance. (p.239)
I suppose actions points from observations and the following ‘training’ that takes place fits with this. Even if this is the case, I still feel that co-constructed action points remove the power dynamic of the evaluator-vs-doer.
…performance management requires that somebody takes charge of evaluating and
managing change in teacher performance, and this includes, where necessary, attempting to remedy perceived weaknesses in individual teacher performance. (p.239)
Not always clear what effective X and Y is – and who is qualified/charged with evaluating teachers in this area. If I reflect on my own experience as a teacher and educator, I feel that I am very confident in assessing and providing feedback on certain areas of teaching, but I know that there are areas where I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as I should be – yet I am still expected to provide feedback to teachers. I think there is value in acknowledging these weaknesses, but also ensuring that the any feedback is given with this in mind.
Rhodes & Beneicke (2003) suggest
that the root causes of poor teacher performance are related not only to individual teachers, but also to organisational and management practices.
Indeed, to attribute blame to individual teachers, and to view CPD as a means of remedying individual weaknesses, suggests a model whereby collective responsibility is not considered. (p.239)
Yes! A large part of the responsibility should rest with the institution. We (management) should help build teachers up and support them through their journey. I think this is why evaluation is really important – Did we actually help teachers throughout the development journey? How did we not meet their needs? What could we have done better? All these are valid questions. I will say, though, that many teachers I have worked with have come from other schools where CPD was very much top-down, following and training and deficit model. The consequences? Well, they viewed CPD negatively, and to makes matters worse, observations and coaching sessions as evaluative rather than transformative. We (management) need to really take a look at how we engage our teachers in CPD to really understand the effects.
in the school context, effective collective competence is dependent on leadership which promotes three particular
conditions, namely:
• making collective sense of events in the workplace;
• developing and using a collective knowledge base;
• developing a sense of interdependency (p.239)
Yes! So, constant evaluation up and down, with input from everyone involved.
Section: The Cascade Model Section: The Cascade Model
The cascade model involves individual teachers attending ‘training events’ and then cascading or disseminating the information to colleagues. (p.240)Super common in ELT, well at least in the contexts I have worked.
…one of the drawbacks of this model is that what is passed on in the cascading process is generally skills-focused, sometimes knowledge-focused, but rarely focuses on values. (p.240)The passing on of received knowledge/research theory. In effect, transmission.
It could therefore be argued that the cascade model supports a
technicist view of teaching, where skills and knowledge are given priority over attitudes and values. (p.240)
Definitely. Although, perhaps if done in a more methodical manner, surely these sessions could be beneficial? If for nothing else, the opportunity to for the ‘teller’ to re-engage with what was presented. Perhaps a slight change would be to include a section before the presentation in which the teachers answer questions about how the sessions they attended changed their VABEs?
Section: The Standards-Based Model Section: The Standards-Based Model
The standards-based model of CPD belittles the notion of teaching
as a complex, context-specific political and moral endeavour; rather it ‘represents a desire to create a system of teaching, and teacher education, that can generate and empirically validate connections between teacher effectiveness and student learning’ (Beyer, 2002, p. 243).
Basically Wallace’s Applied Science model. Totally at odds with Kumaravadivelu.
It also relies heavily on a behaviourist perspective of learning, focusing on the competence of individual teachers and resultant rewards at the expense of collaborative and collegiate learning. (p.241)Interesting.
Smyth (1991) argues that externally imposed forms of accountability
and inspection, such as standards, indicate a lack of respect for teachers’ own capacities for reflective, critical inquiry. (p.241)
I feel that there is a justification in having a standard (e.g., each lesson needs to include a stage that recycles or reviews content from previous lessons) that teachers need to meet in each lesson, although it needs to be set ‘vaguely’. Teachers should be allowed to realise this ‘standard’ in a way of their choosing.
Beyer (2002), among others, suggests that the move towards increasing standardisation in teacher education at both
initial and continuing stages is in part a response to growing concerns about nation states’ abilities to compete in the global economy. In this context standardisation can thus be equated to the pursuit of improved
economic status. (p.241)
Is this the same for ELT? Local context = possibly more customers and better results. Global context = Spread of English and pushing linguistic imperialism? Increased English proficiency for states means more global connections (this is why in Spain at least there has been a HUGE push to increase learners’ level of English to a minimum B1/B2 by the time they leave school – it’s a shame that assessment, teaching practices and class limitation often don’t align with this goal).
…standards also provide a common language, making it easier for teachers to engage in dialogue about their professional practice. (p.242)Agreed.
Section: The Coaching/Mentoring Model Section: The Coaching/Mentoring Model
However, the defining
characteristic of this model is the importance of the one-to-one
relationship, generally between two teachers, which is designed to
support CPD. Both coaching and mentoring share this characteristic, although most attempts to distinguish between the two suggest that coaching is more skills based and mentoring involves an element of ‘counselling and professional friendship’ (Rhodes & Beneicke, 2002, p. 301). (p.242)
Looking at how coaching is run in our academy, I feel that it falls more under the ‘coaching’ branch, although with elements of mentoring. It was initially called mentoring, but as I am the ‘coach’ (well have been till now, and this has been shared at times with my colleague, Patrick), I found the power relationship meant that teachers were waiting for me to lead, present questions, etc. They didn’t really get the ‘critical friend’ aspect. In the first place I worked at a trainer, we ran coaching sessions that started as coaching sessions, but some teachers didn’t like the connotations of the word ‘coaching’. We changed to mentoring and had teachers pair up to talk about things in their practice, but many of the teachers commented that it had ‘no direction’. I personally think that coaching is, if not the most valuable, one of the most valuable parts of our development programme – it’s one way we can meet the ‘Needs-Based’ and ‘Reflective’ criteria from the INSPIRE model. Will need to think about how to run mentoring more effectively though.
Key to the coaching/mentoring model, however, is the notion that professional learning can take place within the school context and can be enhanced by sharing dialogue with colleagues. (p.242) Yes!
The novice/experienced teacher model is akin to apprenticeship, where the experienced teacher initiates the novice teacher into the profession. (p.242) Good for early-career teachers. Also good for more experienced teachers that want a more hands-on introduction/role with teacher training. I would see this as coaching, but because of the power dynamic (see next point), does this mean that it is not? I mean, I don’t see this a training per se, more like critical discourse with a more-learned/experienced other, but still focused very much on what comes up in the ‘conversation’.
In direct contrast, where the
coaching/mentoring model involves a more equitable relationship, it allows for the two teachers involved to discuss possibilities, beliefs and hopes in a less hierarchically threatening manner. (p.243)
Exactly. But, it’s setting up and making it run that is my problem. Either both teachers have to be really motivated, or one needs to lead it. I had the idea of creating mentoring ‘conversation starters’ to support teachers, but never got round to it. Something to think about for next year.
…depending on the matching of those involved in the coaching/mentoring
relationship, this model can support either a transmission view of professional development, where teachers are initiated into the status quo by their more experienced colleagues or a transformative view where
the relationship provides a supportive, but challenging forum for both intellectual and affective interrogation of practice. (p.243)
Ah ok, got it! Perhaps, then, transformative CPD should be prioritised for those teachers who have some experience teaching, while transmission can be the ‘main’ element for completely novice teachers? One of the gripes we have with the transmission model is that it presents this view that teachers come as passive recipients and they don’t really bring anything to the session/programme. So, rather than rely solely on transmission, novice teachers need a mixture of both, but perhaps more transmission than transformative?
So, while Robbins acknowledges the key characteristic of the one-to-one relationship, his particular definition of the relationship focuses on confidentiality as opposed to accountability. (p.243)Interesting. This idea of confidentiality is something I don’t think I had considered. I suppose I had assumed that what happens in the coaching session is private, but that accountability exists, but at a personal level. That is, if the teachers recognises that something could benefit their practice and makes the decision to act on it, then they are ultimately accountable. In this sense, there is no ‘external’ accountability. But does confidential in this case mean only between the two people? Can other management staff be informed about what was spoken about? Can other ‘sources’ be brought in if they are beneficial? Questions to explore.
So, while Robbins acknowledges the key characteristic of the one-to-one relationship, his particular definition of the relationship focuses on confidentiality as opposed to accountability. (p.243) Agreed. Although difficult to define at times – and to assess. Do we get teachers to do a communication skills assessment before allowing them to be involved in coaching/mentoring? Perhaps this is where the experienced coach with less experienced coach matching is best, regardless of their ‘teacher’ status.
Section: The Community of Practice Model Section: The Community of Practice Model
There is a clear relationship between communities of practice and the mutually supportive and challenging form of the coaching/mentoring model discussed above. The essential difference between the two is that a community of practice generally involves more than two people, and would not necessarily rely on confidentiality. (p.244) So, coaching/mentoring occurs within a C.O.P? Interesting also to see that the difference between coaching/mentoring and C.O.Ps is confidentiality.
…learning within these communities involves three essential processes:
• evolving forms of mutual engagement;
• understanding and tuning [their] enterprise;
• developing [their] repertoire, styles and discourses
… learning within a community of practice happens as a result of that community and its interactions, and not merely as a result of planned learning episodes such as courses. (p.244)
Drawing on SCT here. ZPD, mediation, etc.
… learning within such a community could be either a positive and proactive or a passive experience, where the collective wisdom of dominant members of the group shapes other individuals’ understanding of the community and its roles. (p.244)Interesting to note that the role of more experienced practitioners needs to be ‘reduced’ for C.O.Ps to be effective in producing proactive and positive CPD experiences. I suppose if these ‘experienced’ teachers take charge, then it simply turns more into a transmission/passive CPD moment.
Fundamental to successful CPD within a community of practice is
the issue of power. Wenger (1998) argues that a community of practice should create its own understanding of the joint enterprise, therefore allowing the members of that community to exert a certain level of control over the agenda. (p.245)
It needs to be seen as a joint venture – not driven by one ‘figure’.
For professional learning to take place within this context, it should be neither a form of accountability nor of performance managementSo, I suppose that someone could actually take part and still not be ‘involved’. Does it matter though?
It is argued that while communities of practice can potentially serve
to perpetuate dominant discourses in an uncritical manner, under certain conditions they can also act as powerful sites of transformation, where the sum total of individual knowledge and experience is enhanced significantly through collective endeavour.
As these are usually out of the immediate work context, it usually means that teachers choose to be involved, and as such this element of buy-in and investment already has an impact on motivation and teacher engagement.
Section: The Action Research Model Section: The Action Research Model
Advocates of the action research model (Weiner, 2002; Burbank &
Kauchack, 2003) tend to suggest that it has a greater impact on practice when it is shared in communities of practice or enquiry, and indeed, many communities of practice will engage in action research. (p.245)
Burns has a whole chapter devoted to sharing research. I think it’s an important thing to consider, and can be a great way to get teachers who feel ‘academia’ is not for them involved in professional discourse – not to mention helping improve their CVs (e.g., in the case that the group/individual writes an article).
In addition, the move away from universities as sole producers of research could be seen as an attempt to weaken their power base. (p.246)It’s interesting to read about power structures in education. Will have to read more on this.
…an action research model
clearly has significant capacity for transformative practice and
professional autonomy. (p.246)
100% agree. Teachers need to be happy to do it though. Trying to get teachers to carry out AR can be like pulling teeth. From my own experience, I found it truly rewarding and insightful. I tried to integrate into the development programme this year, and had both positive and negative responses from teachers.
Section: The Transformative Model Section: The Transformative Model
…a ‘transformative model’ of CPD involves the combination of a number of processes and conditions – aspects of which are drawn from other models outlined in this article. The central
characteristic is the combination of practices and conditions that
support a transformative agenda. In this sense, it could be argued that the transformative model is not a clearly definable model in itself; rather it recognises the range of different conditions required for transformative
practice. (p.246)
So, context sensitive?
He suggests that what is really needed is not a wholesale move towards the teacher-centred, context-specific models of CPD, but a better balance between these types of models and the transmission focused models. (p.246) The best of both worlds. A mix of everything. It seems like we always come back to this idea of eclecticism in education.
It could be argued, then, that the key characteristic of the
transformative model is its effective integration of the range of models described above, together with a real sense of awareness of issues of
power, i.e. whose agendas are being addressed through the process. (p.247)
Basically, an effective programme. Interesting to note the power dynamics. I feel that ‘private’ education is subject to more top-down power struggles, but it is also more ‘malleable’, being more open to allowing for more bottom-up ‘power’. This being said, if the person at the top is allowing this ‘bottom-up’ power to exist, is it really bottom-up power?
Section: A Proposed Framework for Analysis Section: A Proposed Framework for Analysis
• What types of knowledge acquisition does the CPD support, i.e. procedural or propositional?
• Is the principal focus on individual or collective development?
• To what extent is the CPD used as a form of accountability?
• What capacity does the CPD allow for supporting professional
• Is the fundamental purpose of the CPD to provide a means of
transmission or to facilitate transformative practice? (p.247)
Brilliant questions to include in the end-of-year evaluation.
Little (1994) argues that
because teachers’ CPD is often viewed as a means of implementing reform or policy changes, this can serve to mask questions relating to the
fundamental purpose of such activity. (p.248)
This is why top-down and bottom-up needs need to be identified and acted on.
…CPD which is conceived of as
fulfilling the function of preparing teachers to implement reforms, aligns itself with the training, award-bearing and deficit models discussed earlier supporting a ‘transmission’ view of CPD. On the other hand, CPD which is conceived of as supporting teachers in contributing to and
shaping education policy and practice would align itself more naturally with the action research and transformative models. (p.248)
I wonder where most INSETT programmes would fall in this continuum?
The other three models outlined in this paper – the standards-based model, the coaching/mentoring model and the community of practice model – can be considered ‘transitional’ in the sense that that they have the capacity to support underlying agendas compatible with either of these two purposes of CPD. (p.248) Interesting. I like the use of transitional.
Burbank & Kauchak (2003)
argue that even within many collaborative forms of CPD, which might be represented in the ‘transformative’ category above, the parameters of the activity are defined by some external party, usually in a position of power. So while the capacity for professional autonomy is greater in transformative models, this does not in itself imply that the capacity will necessarily be fulfilled.
Exactly. But how to get around this?


All the above extracts (and references within) have been taken from:

Kennedy, A. (2005). Models of Continuing Professional Development: a framework for analysis. Journal of in-service Education, Volume 31/2, p.235-250.


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