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This instrumental case study explored 12 public-school teachers’ perceptions of mandatory professional development (PD) during times of educational reform efforts in the state of Colorado. The participants in this study represented five unique school districts in suburban and semi-rural settings who had experienced 14 hours or more of mandated PD on a single topic in the past 24 months and had at least five years of classroom experience. Two research questions guided this case study: What are teachers’ perceptions of professional development that is mandated as part of a district-wide instructional improvement initiative? What do teachers say they need in mandated professional development to increase the likelihood of improving their instruction? The data collection method included 45–60-minute, individual, in-depth interviews with some questions that were informed by effective PD elements, adult learning theory, and self-determination theory. A hybrid approach to thematic data analysis was used to identify final themes which were aligned to direct quotes that created teacher participants’ views. Overall, four major themes developed. Theme 1: make it relevant emphasizes the commonality of teacher PD provided on topics or content that do not apply to the individual, is ill-timed in relation to applicability, or is not provided with sufficient time for participants to perceive the significance. Theme 2: differentiate explains the participants’ perspectives that PD is generally not customized. Theme 3: people matter demonstrates the significance of the person delivering the PD to be seen as an expert in the field and credible source as well as the teachers’ desire for collaboration with others. Theme 4: show me and let me do it myself illustrates the types of activities that the teachers’said they needed to fully immerse in the PD learning and take their new knowledge back to their classrooms. In each of the four themes, the teacher participants’ voices revealed answers to the research questions and were the focal point of the analysis and findings. Discussion of the findings occurs regarding the implications for policy, practice, and recommendations for further research.


145 pages

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