Exploring teachers' professional development and digital literacy: a grounded theory study




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


Many aspects of living and working now involve the use of technology and this trend will continue to grow. Over 93 per cent of jobs in the UK now require at least basic digital skills. Outside of work, many aspects of day to day life are also mediated by technology; from banking and shopping to socialising. In this increasingly digital society, an individual requires the knowledge and understanding to make use of technology to suit their own unique needs. One response to this was the inclusion of digital literacy as part of the National Curriculum, viewed as a key foundation skill equivalent to traditional literacy and numeracy. But in order for teachers to help students develop their digital literacy they need support too. This became particularly important in relation to educational technology when in 2012 the UK's primary organisation for supporting the professional development of teachers with technology was abolished. This thesis has taken a constructivist grounded theory approach to investigating how current professional development strategies support teachers’ digital literacy continuing professional development (DL CPD). Focus groups, interviews and observations collected the experiences and opinions of in-service teachers, creating a theory that has been developed by prioritising teacher voice. The emerging theory suggests that within a climate of increasing accountability and performativity, teachers do not have the luxury of time and support to effectively engage with DL CPD. Due to restrictions on their available time and resources teachers must be discerning about the CPD with which they engage to ensure that they meet statutory requirements and school priorities. In particular four spheres of concern were identified that hold significant influence over a teacher’s decision to engage with DL CPD: professional, personal, environmental and cultural. These spheres were synthesised with existing theory to create the Teachers’ Digital Engagement Framework, a tool which can be used to both explore an existing DL CPD programme and support the design of future DL CPD programmes. The Teachers’ Digital Engagement Framework was applied to the data collected in order to formulate recommendations for teachers, schools, educational research and Government policy.





Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice