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Research Briefing

Plain English Summary

Research Summary

Intentions Poster

Outcomes Poster

Full Report


Project Website

     Phase III Research Network:

Enhanced Competence-Based Learning in Early Professional Development (2003 - 2007)

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:

Jim McNally (University of Stirling)
Professor Nick Boreham (University of Stirling)
Professor Peter Cope (University of Stirling)
Professor Ian Stronach (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Project Summary

The overall aim was to improve the learning of new teachers and other new professionals by developing, evaluating and disseminating a research-based, practical model of early professional learning (EPL).
This model added value to previous approaches by integrating outcome-oriented competencies with non-formal learning, context and identity. Specific objectives were to:

  • develop an integrated model of EPL from a grounded understanding of non-formal learning and the use of competence-based standards in practice, taking account of individual differences and differences in context
  • develop and implement a multiple testing instrument for assessing the performance of new teachers and to adapt this for application in other professional contexts
  • demonstrate that the research-based model of EPL can be embedded in practice in such a way as to enhance professional learning, performance and mentoring, and thus contribute to policy on early professional development.

The outcomes of the project had immediate relevance for programmes of professional induction and early professional learning and support in general. Significant impacts:

  • how competences, holistic or atomised, can contribute to an effective socio-professional environment of support
  • the nature of different professional learning styles e.g. evidence-based reflection, creative writing, self or socially generated, cognitive or affective
  • key organisational characteristics of authentic collegiality that nurture professional and personal growth amongst beginners
  • inter-professional understanding and collaboration

The four year project involved collaboration between two universities, Stirling and Manchester, with considerable teaching and research experience in professional education. The empirical focus of the project was the learning experience of beginning teaches in secondary and primary schools, in Scotland and England.
Comparative work extended into other countries and other professions. Teacher-researchers were centrally engaged in gathering data, developing the grounded theory and operational model and in dissemination. Systematic literature reviews and ethnography were complemented by the development of a five-indicator assessment instrument.


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