Spring 3-27-2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Aura Wharton-Beck

Second Advisor

Sarah J. Noonan

Third Advisor

Jane Kise


Mid-career teachers make up the majority of the educator population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021) and a significant number of mid-career teachers encounter career cycle periods known as career frustration and career stability (Fessler & Christensen, 1992). The first is characterized by overall frustration and disillusionment with their day-to-day work and the second is seen as a plateau where adequate is acceptable. Despite billions of dollars being allocated to professional development annually (Mirage, 2015), there is a problem designing meaningful learning for mid-career teachers to keep career disillusionment and complacency at bay. Research has covered what content teachers need to have at their command to effectively serve their students (Darling Hammond & Youngs, 2002; Heritage, 2007; Winch, 2004). Additionally, significant research exists about how adults learn (Belanger, 2011; Knowles, 1972; Kolb & Kolb, 2005) that illuminates the considerations of the delivery of professional development, but there is a gap in the literature about the characteristics of professional development that mid-career teachers need. To keep experienced teachers engaged in continuous improvement in our schools, and to be fiscally prudent with taxpayer dollars, this grounded theory study sought to understand the characteristics of professional development that mid-career practitioners describe as most important to meet their needs. The resulting findings and the emergence of the Mid-Career Professional Development Design framework with its companion guide of application-focused questions are intended to be a tool for leaders and facilitators to consult as they plan, support and implement meaningful professional development for mid-career teachers.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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