Collective teacher learning through experimentation in VET

This article was originally published in Elm’s predecessor media, LLinE. In the educational field it is of great importance to enhance the quality of educational innovations and to ensure knowledge creation and dissemination. In this article it is stated that knowledge creation in innovation processes can be enhanced to stimulate collective teacher learning through experimentation.


This article was originally published in Elm’s predecessor media, LLinE.

In the educational field it is of great importance to enhance the quality of educational innovations and to ensure knowledge creation and dissemination. In this article it is stated that knowledge creation in innovation processes can be enhanced to stimulate collective teacher learning through experimentation. The article describes a case study, which was carried out in 13 projects of 12 vocational education and training (VET) colleges participating in an EXMO-program. The aim of this program is to enhance the use of ict in education, to enhance educational practice and the use of ict by conducting local small-scaled quasi-experiments by researchers and the educational professionals (teachers, project leaders, managers) concerned. Although the researchers supported the 13 local separate experiments, this article focusses on the meta analysis and comparison of the learning and innovation processes within the 13 projects.

The research was done is a multi-method way: document analysis, participated observations and group sessions, student interrogation, a questionnaire for participating teachers and project leaders. Four defining characteristics of successful learning and innovation processes were especially examined, namely 1) an organizational focus on quality improvement, 2) educational need, 3) ownership, 4) completing learning processes (based on the PDSA-cycle).

It was concluded that neither of the teams actually finishes the learning process. Systematically improving the quality of education during every day’s business is difficult for the teams. The learning potential of the workplace of teachers is depending on a complexity of influencing factors on the organizational level, the team level and the individual level. It was concluded that teacher driven innovation is a powerful instrument for enhancing educational quality but the preconditions in modern colleges are not fully developed yet.


In the Netherlands the Education Council has published several reports concerning the vast amount of money invested in educational research and innovation and the limited use of the results of this research to improve the quality of education and educational reforms (Onderwijsraad, 2003; 2006; 2007). The main issues concerned are the fragmented nature of innovations in education and the extent to which innovations are evidence based. The question rises whether or not educational innovations in the Netherlands are achieved and implemented correctly.

To enhance the quality of innovation and to ensure knowledge creation and dissemination, Kennisnet – a Dutch foundation concerned with the use of ict in education – initiated a program concerning the effect of ict related initiatives on motivation of students and educational results in primary, secondary and vocational education (respectively EXPO, EXVO and EXMO). The goal of this program was to enhance educational practice and the use of ict by conducting local small-scaled quasi-experimental research according to the PDSA cycle (Deming, 1986). An important precondition was commitment of educational teams as a whole, to stimulate collective learning processes and the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Kennisnet organized specific didactical and research oriented support to ensure that the PDSA cycle was completed and to enhance knowledge creation and dissemination. In every phase support was given in congruence with the activities.

This article presents a meta-analysis of the EXMO-program. 13 vocational education and training (VET) colleges participated in this program with a variety of ict tools within a variety of VET courses. The meta-analysis is focused on a comparison of the learning and innovation processes, underlying these 13 local projects. Nonaka and Takeuchi’s model of interactive knowledge creation (1995) and Deming’s model for quality management (1986) are used as analytical tools for this purpose.

Knowledge creation in innovation processes

According to Verdonschot (2006) learning and innovating are closely related concepts. Keursten, Verdonschot, Kessels and Kwakman (2004) even argue that learning is necessary for innovation, whereas people are not able to change their behaviour if no learning has taken place. This implies that by organizing the learning processes that support innovation, the innovation process can be positively influenced.

Learning processes that contribute to improvement and innovation require specific reflective behaviour from the people involved. Reflective behaviour influences the innovation process and it supports the participants in developing their ability to be knowledge productive (Verdonschot, 2006). The better developed meta-cognitive skills and reflective skills, the more innovative people can be (Bolhuis and Simons, 2001). In the same line Kessels (1996) stressed the importance of developing reflective skills and meta-cognition because it can be supportive in finding new ways to trace relevant information, to develop new knowledge and to make it applicable in innovations and improvements.

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) propose a model of knowledge creation, the SECI model, which is based upon two modes of knowledge: explicit and tacit knowledge. Most knowledge in an occupational domain is tacit knowledge, concerning how professionals perform their job. To enhance the transparency and quality of the professional practice, it is of great significance to make implicit knowledge more explicit. This also increases the transferability of knowledge and is of great importance to disseminating knowledge, actually completing innovation processes and adapting work behaviour in team and organization.

The four processes in the SECI model are: socialization, externalization, combination and internalization. Socialization consists of sharing tacit knowledge through communication, experience and teaching. Externalization is the conversion of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge by developing concepts and models. Combination takes place when explicit knowledge is compiled to broader entities and concept systems and combined with knowledge that has been filed elsewhere. In this phase knowledge is also analyzed and organized. Internalization is the transformation of explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge, and incorporating it into your own behaviour. The cycle continues with the process of socialization. The creation of knowledge in this model is a continuous process of dynamic interactions between tacit and explicit knowledge.


Nonaka and Takeuchi explain the alternance of tacit into explicit knowledge and vice versa, but do not explain what triggers the innovation process. Innovation is not an aim in itself: innovation is an answer for quality problems in production processes (market, process, product innovation; cf. Nieuwenhuis c.s. 2008). Deming’s model for quality management (1986) is useful to understand this utility perspective of innovation. The application of the PDSA cycle is in line with insights concerning the enhancement of dissemination of innovations in vocational education and training (Nieuwenhuis a.o., 2008; Mulder, 2011). Sustainable innovation in service organizations, such as VET-colleges, is not a goal, but needs to be seen in the light of strategy and quality. According to Roobeek (2006) and Boonstra (2005) innovation is doomed to fail if it is not supported by the strategic policy of the organization. Moreover, innovation requires adaptation of routines in educational teams, which takes time and focus from educational managers and teachers (Van den Berg, 2009).

Urgency, ownership and support from the organization are of significant importance for the establishment of a successful learning and innovation environment. Mulder (2011) also stresses the importance of consistency and commitment, to achieve successful implementation of new methods of work. Consequently Boonstra (2005) and Kessels (2006) denominate the importance of allowing people to be creative, especially in the early stages of innovation. The managerial role changes during the innovation process: according to Boonstra (2005) it is important to stimulate creativity, whereas subsequently it is important to decide on the course of action and to apply it throughout the organization. This means that educational manager or team leaders play an important role when learning and innovation is concerned.

Combining the results of the “Innovation Director” project and the scientific literature on learning and innovation, four defining characteristics of successful learning and innovation processes can be depicted:

1. An organizational focus on quality improvement in which the innovation process is embedded;
2.  Educational need for change and evidence based or evidence informed innovation;
3. Ownership and team commitment;
4. Completing learning processes, instead of settling for workable solutions.

Harnessed with these concepts and process models, the next sections will present the results of the meta-analysis of the 13 EXMO-projects. Section 3 will deal with some methodological issues; section 4 will present one case in extension; section 5 summarizes data from all 13 cases. In the last section concluding remarks and a discussion will be presented.


13 projects in 12 VET colleges have been selected for participation in the EXMO program. For an overview see table 2. The selection process has been done by an external jury, based on application forms signed by the colleges’ directory board. Main selection criterion, used by the jury, was the developmental maturity of the ict tool in stake. Three applications have been rejected by the jury.

After the jury selection, the authors are involved in the EXMO program as research team with a double task. At project level: supporting the local experiments while implementing the tool and executing data collection and analysis. At program level: analyzing and comparing the learning and innovation processes within the 13 projects. This article presents the results of the second investigation.

During the five stages of each local project (see table 1) data are gathered in a multi-method way: document analysis (application form, research plan, research reports), minutes of discussion and focus group sessions (on expectations, design and results in the research process), field observation combined with student interrogation and finally a questionnaire for participating teachers and project leaders concerning their learning processes and evaluation of the project proceedings.


The information gathered forms the basis for a comparative case analysis in which the similarities and contrasts between the local initiatives are studied, focusing on team learning processes and knowledge creation. The data gathered for the meta-analysis is used to describe two variables, namely:

1. The Quality of the local learning process: based upon the PDSA cycle, a thick description is composed of the different phases, in which relevant aspects are taken into account, such as: problem analysis, urgency, ownership, the intervention chosen to solve the problem, the extent to which the intervention provides solutions for the problem and the theory of practice on which the research is based. The support provided during the EXMO arrangement is part of this description.
2. Knowledge development and dissemination in behalf of educational innovation: Knowledge creation and the use of knowledge for improvement of the quality of education is described based upon the questionnaire and the focus group, according to the theory of Nonaka and Takeuchi.


This section concerns the results of the meta analysis of the 13 projects. First a case study is presented in 4.1. Consequently the general findings are addressed concerning the quality of the learning processes (4.2), the support given (4.3), the knowledge creation during (4.4) and the satisfaction with the learning process (4.5). The four stages of PDSA are used as organizer for the presentation of the main results.

4.1 Project 11: learning construction skills

Plan: The educational team involved in this project, choose to evaluate the effects of LECO, a digital set of interactive assignments developed by one of the teachers from the educational team involved. The assignments concern construction knowledge and drawing competence of carpenter students. The assignments are deliberately offered in a fixed order, namely: orientation, preparation, execution, evaluation and reflection. The goal is to train the students to follow this order, and thereby closing the gap between theory and practice and better prepare the students for their drawing assignment. All the teachers involved have some prior experience in working with LECO. Moreover, the LECO assignments are developed by a team of teachers and on-the-job trainers, resulting in a shared ownership of the research. The reason for the LECO experiment was the students’ low grades for their drawing assignments. The urgency to improve these grades is felt by all teachers (and on-the-job trainers) involved. The LECO procedure is based on the Four Components Instructional Design (4C/ID) method for the development of complex learning environments (Van Merriënboer & Kirschner, 2007). This model describes four components for instructional design, namely learning tasks, supportive information, Just-in-Time information, Part-task practice. These four components creates a blueprint for the design of the learning platform.

Do: All the teachers from the team were involved in the project. The initiating teacher, who was also the project leader, was given one day a week for this project. Four teachers participated in the experiment, two of these teachers used LECO in their class and the other two teachers used traditional educational methods. Most of the activities went according to plan, with exception of the integration of theory and practice. The data collection in the local project went according to plan.

Study: During the analyses of the data, the project leader was interested in the SPSS output even before the research report was written. The report was sent to the project leader, who distributed the report to all the teachers involved, preceding the final focus group. Two teachers, the project leader and the educational manager were present during the focus group and together with the researchers they reflected on LECO and the local project results. They addressed that several aspects of LECO need to be improved, but they are willing to keep working with LECO.

Highlights of project 11:


  • LECO is associated with the educational concept. The teachers involved have learned from the project and will refine and improve LECO;
  • The teachers were involved during all the phases of the project, although not all teachers could be present during the final focus group. Therefore the outcomes of the final focus group are discussed in the team (including the people who were not present);
  • The teachers highly value practice based research and they have learned a lot during the project, although it was labour-intensive. Therefore external support and intern facilities (such as time for the project leader) are necessary according to the team.

4.2 The quality of learning and innovation processes

In this part the general findings concerning the local learning processes are presented in accordance with the PDSA cycle.


In the plan stage we discern four issues to be discussed (see figure 1): urgency of the innovation, evidence for the impact of the innovation, innovation history of the team and perceived ownership.


When a problem is more urgent, professionals are more eager to learn and improve their practice. The urgency of the research or educational problem is determined by two questions. Firstly: what is the impact of the problem at hand on the educational process? If a problem concerns competences necessary for students to finish their course, the problem is considered more urgent than a problem that is less intertwined with primary educational processes. The more a problem is perceived as connected to the primary process of the team, the more urgent it is considered. Secondly: what is the source of the innovation: is the solution at stake technology driven or problem driven? Technology driven innovation is considered less urgent than problem driven innovation. In the last form of innovation an (educational) problem was the reason for starting an innovation process; in the former a new technical application was.

Most of the local projects are problem driven, except college 4 and 13, which problems are mainly technology driven. One college aimed to implement digital learning materials developed by an external publisher and the other college wanted to utilize new digital tools (iPads) instead of laptops. There was no real educational problem underlying these two projects. The problems underlying the other local projects are closely connected to the educational philosophy or the primary process of education. For instance, the problem of the quality of peer feedback is central to the method of virtual action learning, in which peer feedback is one of the main drivers of the learning process of students. The numerical understanding in an economic course or the clinical reasoning competency in medical education is seen as central knowledge elements for these vocations.


In the questionnaire, respondents were asked to indicate what knowledge underlies their choice for the intervention at stake and their expectations about the impact of this intervention. In all 13 projects, practical knowledge of teachers is utilized. In 10 cases also practical knowledge of practitioners is applied. Respondents from 10 projects mention the use of specialist journals and in 7 cases scientific knowledge is used. The results show that practical knowledge of teachers is most frequently mentioned (73%) and 37% report the use of practitioners’ knowledge. Four of the respondents report that no knowledge is utilized.
Taking a closer look at the respondents’ expectations, it was expected almost unanimously that learning motivation of students would increase, if a random ict tool is implemented. The knowledge base seems to be hardly originating from scientific evidence, but is mainly founded on practical knowledge. In the application forms, some expectations are based on prior scientific research, but teachers who are involved in latter stages, are not informed about this. The teachers involved perceive the project as based on explicit practical knowledge, as mentioned by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1997). As most interventions are new to the people involved and therefore there is not much practical knowledge available, this leads to the conclusion that impact expectations are mainly based on an optimistic feeling of hope, rather than empirically founded.


From the data collection, not much information is harvested around the innovation history of teams and professionals. From the literature it is known that teachers (and other professionals) with disappointing experiences with educational innovation, are less inclined to new innovative adventures. Van den Berg (2009) argues the professional history of individual teachers and teams is of utmost importance for their willingness to involve in new experimentation. On this issue self selection will play a role within the 13 projects: only innovative forerunners seem to be involved.


For the EXMO application process, it was expected that teachers and teams would have ownership of the intervention. Results from the questionnaire show that in only 50 percent of the cases, teachers are perceived (by at least one respondent) to have ownership. In the cases where the intervention was related to the educational concept (college 3, 8 and 11), at least 50% reported teachers’ ownership. Where the research problem was mainly technology driven (college 4 and 13), ownership was estimated low. In one case, the entire team decided to apply EXMO. In seven cases one or two teachers were (co)initiators.
The results show that 29 out of the 48 respondents (60%) were involved in the application stage. When one or two teachers initiated the project, more teachers are involved later on. These teachers have limited involvement and usually they did not participate in formulating reflections and lessons, based on the research outcomes.
In all cases one or more teachers were involved in formulating or adapting the theory of practice. This is consistent with the fact that 76% indicate they were involved in clarification of the research question.


In second stage of the PDSA process, the focus is on actors involved, the intervention at stake and the actions undertaken for implementation.

Actors’ involvement

The initiating teachers often also implement the chosen intervention. Involvement in the plan stage increases the involvement in latter phases. Nevertheless in eight of the cases, teachers are involved in the implementation of the intervention, who did not participate in the plan phase. This can lead to interventions not being processed in accordance with the theory of practice. In most cases one or more teachers were involved in conducting the local research activities. Almost all teachers were involved in the data gathering. They ensured students’ completion of the questionnaires. Additionally, teachers were involved in the choice of research instruments, particularly instruments that ascertain the educational revenue.

Four distinctive variants of involvement can be distinguished:

1. Team involvement in three phases of the PDSA cycle;
2. Several individuals involved in three phases of the PDSA cycle;
3. One teacher is involved in three phases of the PDSA cycle;
4. Individual involvement in one or two phases of the PDSA cycle.

Considering these variants, collective learning processes rarely take place within the local projects. There are only two educational teams involved where actual collective learning processes are accomplished. Professional learning generally takes place at the individual level.

The colleges’ management plays a distant role in most projects. Giving room for creative ideas mostly entails teachers or coordinators having the option to write the application form. Facilitation and support mostly entail assigning a project leader. The management rarely stimulates exchange or sustains the intervention.
In one case the management is actually involved in giving direction, stimulating the exchange and taking steps to implement the intervention. This is a school, in which the team fully attended the projects’ process. This team commitment is substantially created by the principal.
At another school the ict coordinator, together with a team manager, sustains the intervention. They have obtained the mandate from the principal. At this school a few teachers attend one to three phases of the learning process.
Full participation of individual teachers or educational teams depends largely on clear management support and mandate.

The intervention
Not only the intervention itself, but also the extent to which the chosen intervention provides solutions for the research problem is of importance. Table 2 displays the research problems, chosen interventions and main expectations or hypotheses concerning the interventions.



Not all the interventions have been implemented conform plan. In some cases different teachers were involved in the execution than in the plan stage. So the results of the local experiments were not only depending on the quality of the intervention, but also on the quality of implementation. To tackle this problem observations have been done in each case, in order to gather some data on the implementation.

Study: reflection on the results

During the study phase the research institute provides the analysis and reporting of the research findings. At two schools, a teacher is involved in the analysis. In both cases this was a teacher, who was attending a masters’ course in education, and their thesis complemented the EXMO research.

At all participating schools the researchers have reviewed the final report with the people involved in the research. A final focus group was intended to have maximum participation from the people involved in the local project, both from management and the teams. This was not always successful. Most teachers who initiated the project and/or participated in formulating the theory of practice, have attended the final focus group. Together with the researchers they reflected on the outcomes of the project and the conclusions formulated in the final report. Based on the questionnaire, 75% of the respondents participated in report reviews (36 of 48) and they shared the conclusions of the researchers.
At most schools involved the learning process is still not completed. Few concrete decisions are made and few new actions are formulated. This happened at only three schools. This is partially due to the setup of EXMO, that mainly focuses on the research itself and sharing the outcomes of the project. However, this is not the only explanation. Not finishing the learning process is also influenced by practical circumstances and the role management and coordinators play.
For most cases, the results of the projects were indecisive or even negative on confirmation of the practical expectations. The empirical foundation of most of the expectations was too thin, to be confirmed and also the small group character of the implementation did not sustain the possibility of confirmation. This insight was part of the learning results for the teams. For some colleges, the learned lessons stayed quite general, almost half of the teams reported specific lessons gained from the project, ranging from better understanding of their innovation process to specific adjustments of their interventions and theories behind. During the final focus group, the stakeholders of a few schools determined that the participants (both teachers and management) did not share experiences and knowledge during the learning process. In hindsight they concluded they should have, in order to improve the learning process.

Two schools formulated specific steps of action and some of these steps are already taken. At one school the ict application is improved and it was decided to re-train the teachers. On top of that, one teacher changed his didactical approach, in order to better implement the ict application. At other schools the outcomes of the projects were discussed with the complete team and it was decided to continue the intervention; conclusions were made on further elaboration of the educational concept.
Nearly all participants will be able to use the results to improve their educational practice, and appreciate these results as useful for their professional development. Noticeably the school at which the respondents did not formulate any lessons, they perceive no benefits of the results, whereas the schools where the respondents did formulate lessons (in a number of cases specific, but also general lessons), always benefit from the results.

Act: Lessons learned

The results provide a few highlights considering the quality of the local learning processes. The first one is that starting from a practice oriented knowledge base offers no guarantee for learning specific lessons. Eleven schools have based their knowledge base on practice, whereas only four schools have learned specific lessons. These four colleges have in common that ownership is organized on two levels, both on team level as well as management level. Two of these colleges have embedded their intervention strategically. The six schools that do not have multi-leveled ownership do not learn specific lessons.

Ownership on the level of teachers and management increases the chance of learning specific lessons, but offers no guarantee for success. After all, such ownership is present at three schools, but at these schools no specific lessons were learned. This can be explained by the fact that the projects at these schools did not show any significant results. The two schools that did not have a specific educational issue also did not learn specific lessons. These projects were more technology driven instead of problem driven en were mainly explorative with a thin knowledge base.
Three schools that strategically embedded the project also had commitment of both teachers and management. Two out of these three schools (school 3 and 8), belong to the four schools that learned specific lessons. Furthermore these are the only schools that formulated specific steps of action. The research at the third school that embedded the research strategically, offered no significant results and thus no specific lessons were learned.

The more specific the lessons learned, the higher the ambition to disseminate the results. Furthermore it is clear that other schools, intending dissemination, often have a link between the master course of the project leader and the EXMO research. This results in a high motivation of the project leader, to further disseminate the results, whether or not they are very specific. All schools that intend further dissemination of the research findings and lessons learned, have management involvement as well.

A final remarkable aspect is the fact that at school 7, where specific lessons were learned that are useful for future design of the intervention, no consequence of the results is given to the design of the intervention. In spite of the research showing that a part of the students yield significantly higher educational results, when working in a specific manner, the management decided diametrical in regards to the research findings. This shows the importance of both organizational focus on quality improvement and management commitment especially for broadening and sustainability.

Based on this data, different variations as regards to the content of local research can be depicted. Because there always is an educational problem, this is not a part of the index. The strategic embedding and ownership of the results are distinguished, resulting in the following variations with the school numbers between brackets:

1. Strategic embedding, shared ownership and specific results (3 and 8)
2. Strategic embedding, shared ownership and general results (11)
3. Educational problem, shared ownership and specific results (12)
4. Educational problem, individual ownership and specific results (7)
5. Educational problem, individual ownership and general results (1, 2, 5, 6, 9 and 10)
6. Technology driven research, individual ownership and general or no results (4 and 13)

Conclusion and discussion

One of the interesting findings in this meta research is that all the teams involved suggest that they use to initiate PDSA-alike processes, but that they never actually finish the learning process. During the plan phase teams pursue a solution for a practical problem and examine several options successively and if an option is successful, it is sustained. If the option is not successful, another option is examined. Both sustenance and rejection of an option is chosen without profound analysis of the cause of success or failure. This is in line with the findings of Goes-Daniëls (2011). She states in her dissertation that educational teams do not complete learning cycles; the completion of a learning cycle can be considered an important learning output on its own. The involvement of researchers in local learning processes led to systematic succession of the different steps of the PDSA cycle by the educational teams or teachers involved. This is in accordance with the findings of Den Boer et al. (2011).

Systematically improving the quality of education during everyday’s business is difficult for educational teams. People navigate with familiar compass and are satisfied if the educational activities are organized. Many design considerations are practical and only slightly based on (knowledge about) the learning processes they want to commence. Evaluation and optimization of the primary process seldom takes place, amongst others because the control information necessary, is not available at team level (cf. Mariën, Willemse, Gielen & Vink, 2011). Teurlings and Uerz (2009) mention that the team level is the appropriate level to connect professional development and educational change. These case studies shows that the educational teams involved are not regularly competent to do so. Besides teachers’ skills other factors can also be pointed at for non-optimal learning processes in educational innovation projects.

Lack of ownership and genuine support from the management level leads to an unstable basis for innovation processes. Transformative team leadership has to be implemented to ensure a stable connection between team learning processes and strategic decisions (cf. Truijen, 2012). Innovative projects should target at the act stage of PDSA: innovation is a too huge investment of budget and motivation, not to be targeted at the solution of urgent educational needs within the eyes of the team and the organization.

The 13 cases from the EXMO program give valuable hints how innovative learning processes evolve in real practice, and how they can be improved. Based on the meta analysis we can sketch three portraits of learning processes in practice.

Portrait 1; integrated learning

In project 3, 8 and 11 all conditions are fulfilled for powerful learning and innovation processes. The projects were connected to central educational concepts and had an urgent problem at stake. Ownership and commitment were present in the total team, and also management was involved. So the PDSA cycle was completed in these projects and even steps are set to start the next PDSA cycle targeted at refinement of the learning results. In one case the cycle was ended, because of negative results out of the project: also this was a deliberate decision.

Portrait 2: Local learning

Most of the cases belong to this portrait. In these cases some of the conditions for powerful learning were fulfilled. Ownership and commitment were in most of these cases partial: one committed teacher was initiating and leading the project, or discussion in the team was on a low level. Often innovative design and execution of the invention were in different hands, leading to fragmented learning processes. In other cases the urgency of the problem at stake was low, or the invention was technology driven, leading to low ownership for most of the teachers. In most of these cases the PDSA cycle is not completed.

Portrait 3: Incidental learning

In three cases (4, 7 and 13) only one or two conditions for powerful learning were fulfilled. In these cases no urgent problem was at stake, organizational involvement was missing and the aim of the project was problem orientation rather than problem solution. Organizational uncertainty is not helpful for learning processes and in one case the management took completely different decisions than the project suggested. In these cases the investment in the EXMO program leads to negative outputs: motivation and willingness to innovative is decreased, which has on the long term negative impact on the responsive capacity of the organisation.

The learning potential of the workplace of teachers is depending on a complexity of influencing factors. From our meta analysis of these 13 cases we can conclude that at least three levels are relevant:


  • Managerial behavior on organizational level. The strategic behavior of educational managers is a restrictive ánd supportive for innovative learning of teachers and teams. Managers have to set the problem context: which educational problems are urgent and have to be solved in creative and innovative ways on the level of the teams. The management is the owner of the organizational learning process: innovation projects should deliver input for organizational learning; this elicits organizational urgency. Management is also responsible for the information context: the assessment of innovative outcomes has to be done against output measures on organizational level; if this information is not at hand, teams are not able to see the impact of their interventions.
  • Team level. Transformative leadership at team level should enhance the learning processes connected to problem solving and innovation projects. Team leader and senior teachers (master teachers) can have great impetus on the professional debate on educational quality and local interventions for improvement. Balancing creativity and routine development is a major target for team leaders.
  • Individual level. Individual teachers’ skills, knowledge and innovative attitude are a sine-qua-non for improvement of local practice through innovation. From the case we learn that local theories under daily routines and innovative expectations are rather thin. Innovative history of individual teachers partly explains resistance and support for innovative projects. Lifelong learning of teachers is a major condition for educational innovation.
  • Teacher driven innovation is a powerful instrument for enhancing educational quality but the preconditions in modern colleges are not fully developed yet.


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