|dc.description.abstract||This study examines the extent to which a sustained, coherent, on-site
professional development approach, incorporating a school-based facilitator, can
support the staff of a large urban primary school in the implementation of a
research-validated approach to comprehension instruction. Informed by
international research on effective professional development, the study promotes
a differentiated approach, incorporating modelled lessons, one-to-one
consultations, reflective dialogue and the development of an authentic
community of practice. This research also explores changes in teacher
knowledge and practice as a result of this professional development and
examines its impact on pupil learning and engagement.
Qualitative in nature, this case study design explores the multiple perspectives of
teachers, the principal and pupils across the first two years of the implementation
process. Data gathered from questionnaires, semi-structured individual and group
interviews, audio and video recording of lessons, in addition to researcher
observations, was coded to facilitate the emergence of conceptual categories.
The complexity of implementing school-wide initiatives is highlighted by the
study, with time, multiple reform efforts and the withdrawal of pupils impacting
on teachers’ ability and motivation to engage in educational reform efforts. The
findings indicate that within a community of practice, teachers gradually
assumed more control over their own learning, but that this is contingent on
effective leadership and scaffolding from the facilitator. The study also suggests
that modelled lessons and one-to-one consultations are integral features in
developing an atmosphere of trust in which teachers are comfortable sharing
concerns and anxieties.
Teachers valued the explicit and structured nature of comprehension strategy
instruction introduced, and a dialogic approach which emphasised the
collaborative development of personal interpretation of text was observed in
many classrooms. Teacher scaffolding was identified as an area in need of
The emergence of higher-order thinking skills was noted among all pupils,
leading teachers to reconsider their perspectives of younger and weaker readers.
Findings also indicate that through the use of Comprehension Process Motions,
children in the infant classroom are capable of thinking strategically with
minimal teacher prompting. In addition, increases in pupil engagement and
perceptions of themselves as readers were noted.
In conclusion, the findings of this study reinforce the need for sustained, inschool
support through the medium of informed, on-site facilitation in the
development of a collaborative approach to the implementation of new
initiatives. The development of active and engaged readers of all ages and the
emergence of higher-order thinking skills emphasise the need for a whole-school
approach to comprehension instruction.||en