Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs


LaNysha Adams

Publication Date



Current research has focused primarily on prescriptive models of professional development (PD), yet few have focused on teachers experiences of mandatory PD. Furthermore, researchers (Adams, 2014; Elmore, 2002; Hargreaves, 2011) have shown numerous points of disconnection between the prescribed policies for teacher PD and the de facto policies reflected in teachers' experiences of PD, leaving teachers' accounts of mandatory PD largely underexplored. The purpose of this study was to examine the institution of mandatory PD in New Mexico, exploring the characteristics of mandatory PD and full-time public high school teachers' perceptions of their PD experiences at one high school and in one school district. In using Institutional Ethnography (IE) as both theory and method, I was able to conceptualize the 'institution' of mandatory PD as coordinated and intersecting work processes within a system of social relations focused on compliance. In my institutional ethnographic account of mandatory PD in New Mexico, I used three data sources: 1) institutional texts (n = 13), 2) one-on-one interviews with high school teachers (n = 3) and educational stakeholders (n = 12), and 3) the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) Teacher Background Questionnaire (n = 3,440). To generalize districtwide and statewide, I conducted statistical analyses of the SASS data and described: the format, topic, and duration of high school teachers' participation in PD; high school teachers' perceptions regarding the usefulness of PD; institutional support high school teachers' received for PD; and high school teachers' perceptions of their influence on PD and teacher evaluation school policies. Analyses of interview and institutional text data revealed that the effects of state power, or ruling relations, within the institution of mandatory PD are achieved through moments of text activation that join together teachers and educational stakeholders in diverse, yet coordinated sequences of action. Findings from this study indicate that, at the state level, mandatory PD focuses on external compliance mandates, rather than teachers' needs and input. This study is part of a growing body of research that provides empirical evidence of K-12 teachers' mandatory PD experiences in specific school, district, and state contexts.'


institutional ethnography, schools and staffing survey, professional development, educational policy


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The University of New Mexico

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Flowerday, Terri

Second Committee Member

Haniford, Laura

Third Committee Member

Peele-Eady, Tryphenia

Fourth Committee Member

Pence, Lucretia