About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6617-6625
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain


E.W. Taylor1, M. Fedeli2

1Penn State University-Harrisburg (UNITED STATES)
2University of Padua (ITALY)
In response to the European Commission recommendation concerning the modernization of higher education the University of Padova Executive in Padova, Italy, recently started a faculty development program titled “PRODID” (Preparazione Alla, Professionalita Docente e Innovazione Didattica) devoted to improving teaching (Felisatti, & Serbati, 2014). PRODID’s first endeavor involved 12 senior scholars participating in a teacher study group (TSG) in 2015. The goal of the TSG was to create experts from a variety of disciplines and initiate a system where educators mentor each other in more effective teaching methods. TSG are predominantly self-lead groups with the intent to develop learning communities that foster professional development (Stanley, 2011; Wildman, et al., 2000). Conceptually TSG are recognized as powerful mediums for development although little research exists as to how they foster change, particularly senior faculty, in teaching. The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of change about teaching among participants in a TSG. Two theories frame this study: a) transformative learning theory, which offers an understanding of the change in teaching perspective (Mezirow, 2000); and b) a developmental model of participatory teaching (Robertson, 1999). The methodological design of this study involved an interpretive qualitative orientation (Merriam & Associates, 2002). Participants were purposely selected, representing senior faculty at University of Padova, who participated over five months in a series of TSG sessions (e.g, 12 – 4 hour). Data collection involved interviews with 12 senior faculty (variety of disciplines) and course feedback forms. Interviews were analyzed using a constant comparative approach (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The findings reflect a variety of changes among participants. First, all professed a strong passion for teaching, which provided the drive for exploring teaching innovations. Second, they were two changes in teaching: a) all participants planned to use participatory methods (e.g., interactive lectures, group discussions, experiential activities) in the Fall semester; and b) a smaller group experienced a change in meaning schemes reflecting a growing appreciation for the co-constructing of knowledge. Despite these changes, there was a caution express in making change, because of perceived risks. Finally, factors that most significant in shaping change, was the group itself, which offered a supportive community for experimenting with teaching. The TSG activity that provoked the greatest reflection was giving a teaching demonstration (micro-teaching) and receiving feedback from the group. These initial findings reveal that TSG can be an effective for fostering change in teaching, although the change seems more instrumental, than deeply conceptual. Transformative learning theory would explain these changes as a change in meaning schemes (beliefs) about teaching, not a perspective transformation (Taylor & Cranton, 2012) and it further affirms practices associated with fostering transformative learning. Concerning faculty development it is clear that there was movement toward a more participatory approaches, although limited, likely due to institutional constraints (traditional practices, environmental factors). Despite the challenges it is encouraging that senior faculty have an interest for their improving practice.
author = {Taylor, E.W. and Fedeli, M.},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {6617-6625}}
AU - E.W. Taylor AU - M. Fedeli
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 6617
EP - 6625
ER -
E.W. Taylor, M. Fedeli (2015) A TEACHER STUDY GROUP: AN ITALIAN PERSPECTIVE, ICERI2015 Proceedings, pp. 6617-6625.