Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Teachers’ professional learning preferences

How do secondary school teachers’ professional learning preferences relate to teaching experience and the school context?

2011 - 2016


  • Monika Louws MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. J.H. van Driel (Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne) and prof.dr. K. van Veen - supervisoers
  • dr. J.A. Meirink - co-supervisor

Project description

Professional learning preferences

Programs intended for teachers to learn and develop are rarely focused on professional development (PD) needs of teachers themselves, because teachers are often not involved when it comes to developing these programs (van Veen, Zwart, & Meirink, 2012). But what if a voice is provided for teachers on how they prefer to learn. For our studies it is of interest how teachers define their learning preferences.

Teaching experience and school context

Also, PD programs barely pay attention to the years of teaching experience of teachers; every teacher is treated alike in these programs. In our studies, we’ve used the framework of teachers’ professional life phases as a heuristic model to increase our understanding on how teaching experience is related to teachers’ professional learning preferences.

In addition, since most of teachers’ learning takes place in their schools, we consider the school context with its structural and cultural workplace conditions as an important factor for shaping teachers’ learning experiences and subsequently teachers’ learning preferences (Imants & van Veen, 2010; Little, 2011).

Research aims

In short, previous studies show that there is a meaningful relation between teaching experience and teacher learning, but this has not been studied extensively and especially a focus on teachers’ own learning goals and preferences is lacking. Our central research question is How do secondary school teachers’ professional learning preferences relate to teaching experience and the school context?


In our study we use a mixed-methods design with two research phases: 1) a thorough exploration of the research questions in two secondary schools with small-scale qualitative field studies, and 2) a survey study in which the results from the first research phase will be validated in a large number of schools.

Veen, K. van & Louws, M.L. (2012). Wat zou juf Lotte nog moeten leren? Lopend onderzoek naar leerdoelen gerelateerd aan professionele werkfases. Bijdrage aan bundel ter gelegenheid van het afscheid van Ruud Gorter als lector Educatieve Dienstverlening. Inholland: Den Haag.

Meirink, J.A. & Louws, M.L. (2012, October). Teacher expertise: What has professional development to do with it? Presentation at symposium Teacher Expertise, October 11, Utrecht.

Louws, M.L., van Veen, K., & van Driel, J.H. (2013, July). Teachers’ learning goals and preferences in relation to their professional life phases. Paper presented at the Biannual Conference on Teachers and Teaching van de International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching, July 1 – 5, Ghent, Belgium.

June 2016: Dissertation

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