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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Professional Development in Education

For a Special Issue on
Beyond reproduction: the transformative potential of professional learning

Abstract deadline
24 January 2022

Manuscript deadline
02 May 2022

Cover image - Professional Development in Education

Special Issue Editor(s)

Aileen Kennedy, University of Strathclyde
[email protected]

Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham
[email protected]

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Beyond reproduction: the transformative potential of professional learning

There is an often unquestioned assumption that professional learning and development (PLD) is a ‘good thing’ (Stevenson, 2019). However, the situation is not quite so straightforward, and key challenges reported in the literature include limited access to appropriate PLD opportunities and having sufficient time to undertake the PLD that is available. Numerous studies have demonstrated that teachers can experience significant barriers when trying to access PLD (OECD, 2014), and that even when teachers do participate in PLD activities, impact can be limited (McChesney & Aldridge, 2021).  These are important challenges, and should not be underestimated. However they generate policy responses that focus only on identifying ‘what works’ solutions within a set of parameters that do not question ‘what matters’ (Biesta, 2007).

Professional Development in Education, and its predecessor journal the Journal of In-Service Education, has done much over the years to seek to move beyond this debate and to open up discussion about ‘transformative professional learning’: both what it is, and what it might be.  This was particularly reflected in the publication of Aileen Kennedy’s (2005) highly cited article ‘Models of Continuing Professional Development: A framework for analysis’ in which she distinguished between transmissive and transformative modes of professional learning. These issues have been reflected since in on-going debates within the journal and highlighted in the recent special issue on ‘Non-linear perspectives on teacher development: complexity in professional learning and practice’ (vol. 47, issues 2 & 3).  However, despite these discussions much of the research relating to professional learning remains focused on transmissive models that fail to question the fundamentally reproductive nature of much PLD. These initiatives are often managerially imposed, embedded within performative structures and are central to bringing about cultural changes that value conformity and compliance over radical change.  Although such approaches have often co-opted the language of transformation, the reality suggests that very little is being transformed.  The danger is that the language of ‘transformation’ becomes accepted as a contemporary ‘common sense’ – over-used and under-analysed.  The ultimate irony is that learning processes that claim to be about change play a key role in reinforcing existing structures and their linked inequalities.

In this Special Issue of PDiE we seek to explore the potential of professional learning to be disruptive – to challenge current inequalities, dominant ideas and established orthodoxies. We seek to understand how professional learning can be genuinely transformative, not only by opening up possibilities that may be beyond our current imagination, but which connect abstract and conceptual thinking with practical actions capable of bringing about real change (Freire, 1970).

Within the Special Issue we seek to open up a number of questions for debate.

  • What do we mean by ‘reproductive professional learning’ and in what ways does professional learning act in reproductive ways?
  • What do we mean by ‘transformative professional learning’? To what extent are frameworks of transformative professional learning, such as those developed by Jack Mezirow and others in radical adult education movements, relevant for understanding, analysing and critiquing contemporary developments in PLD?
  • To what extent can ‘professional learning’ be transformative? Are there particular forms of professional learning that afford more potential to be transformative? (see Evans, 2019).
  • What are the challenges for those who work in the field of ‘professional learning’ and who seek to work in transformative ways? To what extent is it possible to work ‘in and against’ the system we seek to transform? Can professional learning open up genuine possibilities to work in counter-hegemonic ways?

The journal welcomes manuscripts that respond to these questions, or which pose alternative questions that work within the theme of transformative professional learning.  We particularly welcome contributions that generate new theoretical insights, that draw on innovative and creative methodologies, that speak directly to questions of equality and the reproduction of inequalities and/or which offer critical and analytical perspectives on PLD policy and governance.

Submission Instructions

Please send your proposal (as an attachment) to the Special Issue Editors, Professor Aileen Kennedy [[email protected]] and Professor Howard Stevenson [[email protected]], using the following email subject heading:Proposal for PDiE Special Issue on Transformative Professional Learning’. All proposals should be received by 5pm on Monday 24th January 2022.

The proposal should include:

  • The proposed title of the article
  • The name(s) and institution(s) of all contributing authors with the contact author clearly indicated
  • The Email address of the lead author
  • An abstract of maximum 750 words which:
    • Summarises the focus of the article, highlighting the ways in which it will respond to the challenges laid out above.
    • Identifies the geographical context of the work and any relevant issues relating to this (national education policy etc.).
    • Makes clear the originality and significance of the work in relation to its impact on the field of professional learning and development
    • Identifies clearly the nature of the work, i.e. empirical or conceptual, and provides an overview of methodology and/or approach.

Feel free to contact the editors directly to discuss potential submissions.


Final date for receipt of proposals 24 January 2022
Invitations to submit full article for review 4 February 2022
Full articles submitted for peer review 2 May 2022
Peer review feedback sent to authors requesting revisions where appropriate 4 July 2022
Submission of revised articles 5 September 2022
Second round peer review feedback sent to authors 7 November 2022
Submission of final versions of articles 30 January 2023
Publication in issue 49.02 April 2023


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