Research Program
Research Questions
Uniqueness of Program
Social and Scientific Impacts

The main objective of this research program is to contribute to the analysis of the principal changes which the teaching staff of primary and secondary schools in Canada are facing and to follow the evolution of these changes over a period of five years (2002-2007), and which will eventually be carried out for an additional five years (2007-2012).

The main objective of our team is to describe, interpret and understand the dynamics of change, in both education and society, which currently characterize the work and teaching professions within the school system. We will analyze and document these changes in order to see how they affect school personnel and, as well, to understand how the players involved in the education world adapt according to the resources available and the context in which they find themselves in.

We believe that the a profound transformation is happening in the teaching profession. There are many changes affecting the work conditions of teaching personnel within classrooms, schools or the social environment. As well as being witnesses to these changes, the school personnel are also the cornerstones of Canadian schools as they are undertaking the education and training of a new generations of citizens. In that sense, to study the current situation of school personnel is therefore to attempt to reach the heart of the schooling process as it is carried out today in classes and schools.

This research program is directed by Maurice Tardif, Professor at Université de Montréal and director of the CRIFPE.

Research Questions

Four research questions guide our program.

Question 1. Who are the current teaching agents in Canada and what are their working conditions?

To answer this question, we are building a consistent and valid statistical database that will reveal the sociomorphological structure of the teaching personnel in Canada and their work conditions. This database is being built using existing databases (Project 1) and the production of new data gathered from teachers and school administrators (Project 3). As much as a possible, the data gathered will cover the period from 1990 to the present.


Question 2. How do the policies and educational reforms affect the work performance of school personnel within the establishments?

To answer this question, we will document the representations and attitudes of the school personnel and their diverse reasons for action (adaptation, appropriation, avoidance, resistance, etc.) in the face of the changes brought on by reforms and policies within the establishments. This questions will be approached in three ways: through the analysis of documentation on policies and reforms (Project 2), national surveys by questionnaires (Project 3) and longitudinal follow-up via qualitative interviews and questionnaires of teachers and school administrators (Project 4). We are interested in three crucial phenomena:

(a) the impact of budget cuts and standardization on the work of school personnel;

(b) the question of decentralization and the new work dynamics which ensue within establishments;

(c) the position of teachers and school administrators in terms of the new educational policies and ideologies (evaluation, competition, accountability, etc.).


Question 3. How do teachers and school administrators currently define their knowledge and competencies with regard to their profession and daily work?

This question directly links our program to teacher training, the nature of teachers’ knowledge and professional competencies, the knowledge base and the types of knowledge needed in practice. It also addresses the issue of the professionalization of teaching in Canada and the reforms to teacher training with all that implies.

We will be documenting and clarifying the positions, the representations and the teaching practices (Project 3, Project 4) in terms of professionalization as well as issues such as training and their conception of the knowledge and competencies that form the foundation of their work.


Question 4. What are the professional practices of teachers and school administrators in the context of their daily interactions with the students, and how do they perceive what they do?

This question allows us to tie the analysis of changes to the actual study of professional practices. We are investigating the practices and pedagogical conceptions of teachers (Project 3, Project 4) and school principals in terms of the following phenomena:

(a) the growing diversification of students within an establishment and its impact on pedagogical practices;

(b) professional collaboration and the creation of learning communities;

(c) the representations of and teaching practices linked to the curriculum and school subjects.

Through the study of these phenomena, we seek to understand how the changes that currently affect the education world concretely fit in with the conceptions and pedagogical practices of teachers and school administrators.

Uniqueness of the Program

Our research takes as its starting point the most current work in the sociology of work, the sociology of professions as well studies on organizational change. Our program stands out in a significant way as it approaches the subject from a triple perspective:

1) pan-Canadian: all data (documentary, statistical, qualitative, etc.) has a national dimension, either when it is collected or during sample construction.

2) comparative: the documentation and statistical data will lead to comparisons between regions, while the samples (teachers and school administrators) will be sufficiently representative to allow the study, depending on the case, of regional, provincial or local differences.

3) longitudinal: the groups of teachers and school administrators are followed on an annual basis (through interviews and questionnaires), and the samples, in the larger surveys, are targeted twice via questionnaires.

The analyses take into account the points of view of different teaching agents in order to understand the effects of the changes on their representations, their attitudes and the various emergent and diverse practices.

Finally, we note that the results of our work will lead to international comparisons, as well as exchanges with our international collaborators and partners.

Social and Scientific Impacts

This kind of program has never been undertaken in Canada. Our team wishes to make a contribution that is both new and fundamental with regards to knowledge of the changes that currently shape the evolution of pan-Canadian teaching systems, but from the specific perspective of teachers and school administrators, their situations and professional practices, the transformations that affect their training, competencies and profession, as well as their daily work and interactions with students and other educational partners.

Supported by an important network of partners, centers, chairs and universities, our program will directly contribute to the improvement of our collective knowledge regarding the phenomena and stakes that presently impact the work of teaching personnel, while reaching both the university community and educational organizations as well as the teachers and school administrators and their associations.

mise à jour - 2 mars 2005 © CRIFPE