Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Leigh Wallace

Second Advisor

Gail Schneider

Committee Members

Thomas Joynt, Elise Frattura, Dacoteau Irby


Education, Policy, Professional Development


Existing research has shown an association between teachers' professional growth and student success. However, there is a lack of information on the mandated professional development linked to Wisconsin teacher licensure requirements. The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenon of self-directed professional development and its impact on classroom instruction and student learning. Professional

development plans are required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a licensing requirement for all Wisconsin teachers to remain in the profession. This study investigated the perspectives of initial educators on the required professional development plan incorporated as part of The Wisconsin Quality Educator Initiative, also known as PI 34, and how that plan has impacted their classroom instruction and student learning.

Using a qualitative approach, teacher perspectives based on in-depth interviews, annual reflection logs, and the professional development plan documents were explored. Semi-structured interview questions provided a means to explore and uncover the answer to the basic research question: Does self-directed learning through creation of a professional development plan provide teachers with the professional growth needed to impact their instructional practice and ultimately student learning? The study explored teachers' perceptions of their professional development experience and the impact of change in instruction and effect on student learning.

Findings from the study showed that mandated professional development plans through the PI 34 process were not motivating factors to improve educators' learning. Professional educators' motivation to improve their craft and help their students succeed, combined with collaboration, and time were perceived by educators as factors necessary to change classroom instruction and impact student learning.