This is a five-year longitudinal study of the impact of the Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC): a top-down, state mandated reform, on teachers' professional development. By taking a perspective that focuses on teachers' learning during the reform process, it allows the reform, the context and the interaction between them to be taken into consideration. The study focuses on two interrelated areas of inquiry; namely, understanding how the TOC affected teachers' professional development and the conditions which seemed to explain why this occurred. Given the nature of the research questions, a case study approach was used, and the main data collection method was by individual Interviews. Other methods - like direct observation and document review - were used for triangulation purposes. Starting with a large database, the study then focuses on one school P.C. Memorial Primary School and two teachers in the school - Mary and Shirley. The study goes beyond just describing teachers' state/level of professionalism and analyses how change occurs.
Contrary to the proposition that such educational reforms serve to diminish the professional autonomy and compromise the ideology of teachers, the findings of this study suggests that the TOC, despite its well documented deficiencies, served as a source of critical events which both provided authentic learning situations and promoted reflection for some teachers. It also provided conditions which served to facilitate reframing and professional development for some teachers.
What happened in P.C. Memorial Primary School shows that the success or failure of a reform effort is a relative matter. It depends on what was in focus and considered to be important. Also the response of individual teachers to the same conditions differed very markedly. This is exemplified by the different opportunities to learn created for the two teachers in the same school, which accounted for their different paths of professional development.