Teacher learning on the Delta

There has in recent years been growing interest in the impact which teacher education has on participants' beliefs, knowledge, skills and practices. Much of this work comes from outside TESOL; also, that in TESOL focuses mainly on pre-service teacher education. While drawing on relevant work in TESOL and education more generally, this study represents an opportunity to add to this literature by providing a systematic analysis of the impact of a professional learning course on experienced teachers.

The study will address the following questions:

  1. What do participants expect to learn (in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes, awareness) on the Delta?
  2. What evidence is there of teacher learning, both from participants' own accounts of their experience on the modules and from course documents such as their assessed work and feedback on it?
  3. Do the candidates feel that certain learning activities and processes on Delta modules make a particular contribution to their learning?
  4. What impact on their professional practice do participants expect Delta modules to have?
  5. Two months after completing the Delta, what impact on their professional practice do participants say Delta modules have?

Cambridge ESOL is a provider of qualifications for teachers of English. One of their qualifications is the Delta (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults). This qualification is designed for practising teachers who have completed an initial training programme for teaching English. Many of the candidates on the Delta are seeking to move into Senior Teacher and Management positions.

The Delta consists of three modules. These can be studied through attendance at a training centre or else on-line. For the purposes of this study, a full-time training-centred based version of the Delta will be examined. The training centre in question is a well-established and reputable institution in London. At this centre, all three Delta modules are taught in an intensive 8-week programme.

While the Delta has been available for several years, little is known about the nature of the teacher learning that occurs on it nor about the impact this has on the subsequent professional practices of successful candidates. This study examines these issues; the primary mechanism for doing so will be a series of interviews with six case study participants over the course of the 8 weeks. These interviews will explore participants' perceptions of what and how they are learning during the course. In addition, data will also be collected via a pre-course questionnaire (to examine what participants expect to learn during the course) and a further post-course interview two months after its completion. Work participants produce during the course and which is assessed will also be collected as evidence of their learning.