Teacher sensemaking and implementation fidelity : how do I know what I do until I see what I did




Lim, Wan Sin

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The teacher, as the implementer of a program’s core components, is the most crucial factor that influences the process of educational implementation of any professional development (PD) program. Focusing on how teachers resolve their ambiguity and uncertainties will provide insight regarding how teachers’ participation in PD can influence their decision about implementing the program’s core components (Allen & Penuel, 2015). The purpose of this research is to explore how science teachers’ sensemaking processes influence implementation fidelity of a PD program that emphasizes reform-oriented instructional approaches. The main research question is, how does science teacher sense-making influence implementation fidelity? Using qualitative case study and numerous data resources (observation of PD, survey, classroom observation and rating, interview, self-report, and artifacts collection) the research revealed six common triggers of teacher sensemaking instances of the program’s core components shared by all teacher participants. They are: the value of PD in their classroom, their emotion regarding the implementation of the core components, the relevance of the PD program to students’ needs, the relevance of PD to state standards, the implementation network that operates within school, and time constraints. The triggers of teacher sensemaking instances that arise only on the low fidelity implementers are: the abundance of information gained from professional learning experiences, lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities to implement the core components, lack of clarity in the setting and environment for implementation, and lack of success measures for implementation. On the other hand, sensemaking of the high-fidelity implementers is focusing on: availability and accessibility to instructional resources, accessibility of the experts, their current progression toward establishing a student-centered classroom, and availability of planning time during the PD. The research also identifies four types of teachers’ implementation orientation as they make sense of the PD program. They are, (i) passive distributive, (ii) critical evaluative, (iii) creative emergent, and (iv) transformative. The research found that teacher sensemaking of PD is interconnected with their implementation. Thus, to study teacher sensemaking is not only to focus on how teachers make sense of the PD program, but also to study how they implement the reform-oriented program in the classroom.


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