Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Janet Ledesma

Second Advisor

Bordes Henry Saturne

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

Problem and Purpose

Much research over several decades has established the importance of ongoing professional learning for teachers and has identified what effective professional learning should look like. Little research has been done, however, on the professional learning practices of teachers in faith-based schools, and few studies have focused on the learning needs of millennial teachers, those newest to the profession.

This study explores the professional learning practices of educators in the Seventh-day Adventist School system in North America and the factors that impact those practices, with a special focus on millennial educators. Educational leaders can use the results of this study to improve the learning opportunities available for the teachers they are responsible for supporting.

Method

A descriptive quantitative design was used to collect and analyze data from 749 surveys. The sample consisted of K-12 educators from across the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Data was collected using a researcher-designed instrument which was administered through Survey Monkey™. SPSS™ was used for statistical analyses. Factors were identified using exploratory factor analysis, and both descriptive results and multiple regression analyses were used to assess the impact of these factors on the time spent and the number of types of professional learning that educators participate in.

Findings

The study showed that there is strong commitment to ongoing professional learning in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. It is also clear, however, that traditional forms of learning predominate and educators in general do not spend the sustained time needed for lasting instructional improvement. The factors that predicted time spent were different for millennial and non-millennial teachers. In general, non-millennial teachers report higher satisfaction with professional learning opportunities than do millennials. Collaborative practice has the greatest impact on both time spent and variety of types of activities, but few non-millennials and even fewer millennials report opportunities for collaboration.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The findings suggest that several areas need to be addressed in order to improve the professional learning experiences for educators in the system. Differentiated opportunities for learning, including the addition of non-traditional types, are needed to better meet the needs of all educators, especially millennials. More opportunities for collaboration among educators are needed, and ways of facilitating job-embedded learning need to be explored. Increased institutional support, including a willingness to explore new models, provide teacher leadership and collaboration opportunities, and consider policy changes that better reflect learning needs at various career stages, would increase teacher satisfaction with their learning opportunities and may, as a result, lead to improved instruction and increased student success.

Subject Area

Professional education; Career development; Seventh-day Adventist teachers, Generation Y

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