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What influences the learning cultures of subject departments in secondary schools? A study of four subject departments in England

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This paper reports on a study exploring teacher learning of subject content knowledge (SCK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in four subject departments of secondary schools in England. The research design employed interview and observation. This paper focuses on characterising the cultures of the subject departments from the participants’ own perspectives, examining the key factors influencing the formation of these cultures and how they facilitated or constrained the learning of SCK and PCK. Analysis of the data was done using constant comparative analysis. Findings show that three of the subject departments could be described as having more collaborative cultures whilst one was more individualistic. The findings also show that the key influencing factors were the nature and status of the subject, leadership of the department and the presence of a shared physical space, a team room. The paper ends by considering some of the implications for teacher learning in the workplace particularly at a time, in the English context, where the government’s reforms are moving towards more school-based initial teacher education and continuing professional development.
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Keywords: culture; leadership; school departments; teacher education; workplace learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Education, Oxford University, Oxford, UK 2: Institute of Education London, London, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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