Report on “good practice” case studies of professional development in three countries

This report presents ‘good practice case studies’ of exemplary approaches to innovative in-service
professional development of ECEC practitioners in three countries: Denmark, Italy and Poland.
The report is part of the project CARE “Curriculum Quality Analyses and Impact Review of European
Education and Care”, a collaborative project funded by the European Union within the Seventh
Framework Program, to address issues related to the quality, inclusiveness, and individual, social, and
economic benefits of Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe.
The report reviews studies on innovative approaches to professional development, including the use
of new technologies, peer learning, reflective practice and organizational learning, within the field of
Early Childhood Education in Europe (T3.3, narrative literature review), and then presents the case
study design, results and interpretations of findings from the three case studies on good practices of
in-service PD conducted in three European countries. Discussions and implications from the three
studies are described in the second chapter of this report. The three case studies are presented
separately in the appendices section (A. Denmark: The VIDA program. Innovative practices of PD on
quality and child outcomes; B. Italy: ECECs as participatory city-laboratories; C. Poland: An
innovative approach to the in-service PD of caregivers in the Łódź), each including: a
contextualization and description of the case, the research design and procedures, findings, limitations
and discussion of results.
This multiple case study involved data collection on innovative approaches of in-service professional
development in each of the three countries (Denmark, Italy, Poland) that were considered good
examples of “innovative approaches to in-service PD” by local experts and researchers. Each case
was identified on the basis of common criteria drawn from the literature review (T3.3) conducted in
the first part of the study and presented in the first chapter of thisreport.
Data collected in each case include both existing and new data (interviews, focus groups and
observations). Case studies were conducted within the “WP3, Professional Development: Impact and
Innovation”, with the aim to explore new effective approaches to professional development aimed at
enhancing education and improving workforce training strategies for earlypractitioners.
This multiple case study aimed at identifying common and culturally different key elements of
innovation within in-service professional development practices in contemporary ECEC settings (i.e.
sustainability, creativity and flexibility, participation of coordinators, sustained shared practices of
learning within a group, reflexivity, etc.) and discussing them in a cross-cultural perspective. In each
site, overlapping and connections with the WP2 multiple case study (D 2.3, Slot et al., 2016), are
acknowledged and further described in the final part of each national case study report (see
Findings revealed that there is a largely shared interpretation of innovation in the ECE field, despite
the cultural, geographical, political differences that characterized these three different countries. We
found this agreement within each case study, among stakeholders and practitioners, and between the
three cases, and this is an interesting and partially unexpected result. The main findings regard the
process of innovation and its impact on professional consciousness and motivation in terms of
networking, participatory practices and the improvement of ECEC quality.

In depth and comprehensive insight in “good practice” models of continuous professional
development and quality improvement based on the three case studies reveals the effects of dynamic
factors (e.g. frequent feedback and regular team-based reflection sessions based on observation), the
importance of time for reflection in job contract, the critical role of pedagogical leaders (coordinators,
directors, managers, supervisors), the importance of inter-organizational networking within the
locality and the facilitating role of collaboration with research institutes. All three studies provide
evidence of the mutual benefit of collaboration between practitioners and researchers/experts, and
underline the need to improve the practitioners’ network and possibility for working with
communities of practices developed at the micro, meso, macro level.