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Exploring Teachers’ Understandings of School-based Professional Learning in a Tanzanian Secondary School

Rehema J. Mwakabenga, Sally Hansen, Alison Sewell


Teachers can positively engage in professional learning if they are knowledgeable about its processes and the roles they can play in it. However, teachers often lack a clear understanding of what constitutes effective professional learning practices and they are often unsupported to engage in it. This paper reports on part of a larger study that explored Tanzanian teachers’ understandings of professional learning prior to participating in a school-based professional learning (SBPL) model. This teacher-led model of professional learning supported four secondary school teachers to engage in a professional learning inquiry based on the needs of their students. Qualitative research methods, such as interviews and focus group discussions, were used to collect data through an action-research design. The findings indicated that the four teachers had limited understandings of the SBPL concept, and could neither explain how a well-crafted SBPL might be implemented. Also, they were not familiar with the range of support services available to help them in SBPL, or aware of the roles they could play in their professional learning. During the SBPL intervention, the teachers began to develop shared understandings about its inquiry processes and values to support their learning about teaching. Based on these findings, it is recommended that teachers be supported to understand and engage in SBPL to promote their learning, and ultimately enhance students’ achievement.


teacher learning, professional learning, school-based professional learning, understanding

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