Efficiency or Deliberation? An Analysis and Re-imagination of Professional Development's Promise and Purpose

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Thesis Type:

Qualifying Paper


For decades, researchers and policymakers have looked to professional development (PD) as a promising tool to improve teacher practice and student learning. However, despite its potential, PD is widely considered pathologically unable to realize its potential. In this conceptual paper, the author suggests that the problem of PD’s persistent ineffectiveness is attributable to its alignment with a sociopolitical framework that prioritizes efficiency. Numerous past attempts to improve PD have failed to address underlying assumptions about teaching, learning, and human relationships embedded in this efficiency framework. As an alternative, the author proposes a new deliberative framework that is more compatible with learning principles and thus more likely to improve learning across contexts and at scale.

Last updated on 06/26/2017