Facilitating teachers' growth: Investigating the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of intensive professional development programs for educators

Denise M. Dumouchel (2004)

Theories of adult development, teacher education, and transformative learning are relevant to practices in experiential, environmental and adventure learning. Each field has something to offer and something to learn from the others. Combining these theories and practices in the design and implementation of professional development programs for educators may enhance the value to the participant educators. Such valuable professional development opportunities will strengthen the quality of learning environments the educators are able to create for their students. For my dissertation research, I have studied three intensive professional development programs for educators (IPDE's), serving as participant-observer in each. I framed my focus around an idea of six elements combining to create the meaning of the experience for each educator: self, place, interpersonal interactions, content, experience, and reflection. In addition to my own observations and reflections, I gathered information through (1) informal interviews with participants and facilitators, (2) recorded reflections by participants during, immediately following, and six months after the programs, and (3) results from evaluation forms administered by the sponsoring organizations of each program. Through my research, I settled on a seventh important element: facilitators of IPDE's. I then developed a framework that may serve facilitators of IPDE's in more thorough planning, and more effective implementation of intensive professional development programs for educators. Results are reported and analyzed in this dissertation, in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Studies at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire.