Effective professional learning in education is a complex undertaking that combines intellectual work with practical and emotional engagement for the co-construction of knowledge. Authentic learning comes from processes of sensemaking, practitioners applying concepts and ideas to specific contexts as a way of developing nuanced understandings. This is the case for professional learning for inclusion as it is for education more generally. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a postgraduate professional learning course that sought to support the co-construction of knowledge in relation to autistic learners in post-16 education. Support for this group of learners had been identified as a priority area for professional learning in Wales, though teacher knowledge and understanding in relation to autistic learners is an issue for education systems more widely. Participants in the study represented all FE colleges in Wales and included experienced teachers and leaders, most of whom have a role focused on inclusion and learning support within their setting. Two phases of data collection were carried out, namely a baseline questionnaire (n=36) and follow up interviews (n=15) at the end of the year of study. Findings indicate that the course did not provide practitioners with new knowledge about autism, but helped to confirm existing beliefs and support the development of deeper understanding of autism and more professional confidence about practice. New knowledge gained from insider accounts was described in relation to the nature of difference for autistic learners with implications for what is seen as important in terms of the focus of support practices.
|Journal||Advances in Autism|
|Publication status||Submitted - 23 Nov 2021|