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Professional development programs are based on different theories of how students learn and different theories of how teachers learn. Reviewers often sort programs according to design features such as program duration, intensity, or the use of specific techniques such as coaches or online lessons, but these categories do not illuminate the programs’ underlying purpose or premises about teaching and teacher learning. This review sorts programs according to their underlying theories of action, which include (a) a main idea that teachers should learn and (b) a strategy for helping teachers enact that idea within their own ongoing systems of practice. Using rigorous research design standards, the review identifies 28 studies. Because studies differ in multiple ways, the review presents program effects graphically rather than statistically. Visual patterns suggest that many popular design features are not associated with program effectiveness. Furthermore, different main ideas are not differentially effective. However, the pedagogies used to facilitate enactment differ in their effectiveness. Finally, the review addresses the question of research design for studies of professional development and suggests that some widely favored research designs might adversely affect study outcomes.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Review of Educational Research
December 2016, Vol. 86, No. 4, pp. 945 –980
DOI: 10.3102/0034654315626800
© 2016 AERA.
How Does Professional Development
Improve Teaching?
Mary M. Kennedy
Michigan State University
Professional development programs are based on different theories of how
students learn and different theories of how teachers learn. Reviewers often
sort programs according to design features such as program duration, inten-
sity, or the use of specific techniques such as coaches or online lessons, but
these categories do not illuminate the programs’ underlying purpose or
premises about teaching and teacher learning. This review sorts programs
according to their underlying theories of action, which include (a) a main
idea that teachers should learn and (b) a strategy for helping teachers enact
that idea within their own ongoing systems of practice. Using rigorous
research design standards, the review identifies 28 studies. Because studies
differ in multiple ways, the review presents program effects graphically
rather than statistically. Visual patterns suggest that many popular design
features are not associated with program effectiveness. Furthermore, differ-
ent main ideas are not differentially effective. However, the pedagogies used
to facilitate enactment differ in their effectiveness. Finally, the review
addresses the question of research design for studies of professional develop-
ment and suggests that some widely favored research designs might adversely
affect study outcomes.
Keywords: professional development, teacher learning, research design,
teacher quality, educational improvement, teaching practice
The idea that professional development (PD) can foster improvements in
teaching is widely accepted. PD is required by virtually every teaching contract in
the country, and teachers participate in PD every year. Foundations and federal
agencies spend large sums on the design and implementation of PD programs. Yet
despite this widespread agreement about its importance, there is little consensus
about how PD works, that is, about what happens in PD, how it fosters teacher
learning, and how it is expected to alter teaching practice. The actual form and
substance of PD programs is tremendously various, raising questions about why
something so various is uniformly assumed to be a good thing. This article reviews
research on PD programs with an eye toward learning more about how different
approaches to PD actually foster learning. Taking up this project raises a host of
626800RERXXX10.3102/0034654315626800KennedyRole of Professional Development
related questions about what teachers need to learn, what kind of PD activities
foster learning, and about how learning in one context, such as a PD workshop,
affects behavior in another, such as a teachers’ own classroom.
Because PD programs are so various, reviewers generally try to sort them
according to similarities and differences in their visible features. Some reviewers
focus on differences in content. For instance, Sher and O’Reilly (2009) compared
programs that focused on subject matter with those that focused on pedagogy, and
Kennedy (1998) identified four substantive foci: generic teaching practices, sub-
ject-specific teaching practices, curriculum and pedagogy, and how students
learn. Other reviewers focus on features of program design. For instance, Blank
and de las Alas (2009) found that more effective programs have features such as
follow-up steps in teachers’ schools, active learning methods, collective participa-
tion, and substantive attention to how students learn specific content. Timperley,
Wilson, Barrar, and Fung (2007) categorized 84 design features of PD programs
including the content and process of the PD programs, the characteristics of the
teachers’ schools, and the social context of their work.
These lists of salient design features and operational mechanisms help simplify
the complex array of programs, but they have also been criticized. One group of
reviewers (Sztajn, Campbell, & Yoon, 2011) criticized these lists for shifting our
attention away from relevant conceptual and theoretical frameworks, and another
(Opfer & Pedder, 2011) criticized them for being based in process–product logic,
meaning that programs are defined by visible processes or features rather than by
the functions these processes serve.
One reason we rely on such lists is that there is no single, overarching theory
of teaching or of teacher learning. Teachers are characterized as managers, actors,
mediators, role models, salesmen, and so forth. With different conceptions of
teaching come different conceptions of how PD can improve teaching. But we
cannot learn from this body of research unless we find a way to distinguish among
these different conceptions of what teachers are actually doing and how we can
help them improve. Rather than considering the array of specific design features
PD programs rely on, this review seeks to define programs according to their
underlying theories of action, where a theory of action includes two important
parts. First, it identifies a central problem of practice that it aims to inform, and
second, it devises a pedagogy that will help teachers enact new ideas, translating
them into the context of their own practice.
What Problems of Practice Do Programs Aim to Inform?
Questions about what teachers need to know are typically prefaced by stipula-
tions about what teachers actually do. Ever since Charters and Waples (1929) first
tried to define teachers’ practices, researchers have struggled to find a common
language that could define teachers’ work and delineate the knowledge needed to
guide that work. A large body of research in the 1970s, commonly dubbed “pro-
cess–product” research, sought to distinguish relatively more and less successful
practices. This was followed in the 1980s by a surge of close-up studies of teacher
thinking, nicely summarized by Clark and Peterson (1986), designed to help us
understand how teachers reasoned about and made decisions about their practices.
From these studies, we learned that teachers are continuously balancing among
Role of Professional Development
multiple and conflicting goals and ideals, some self-imposed and some imposed
from outside. For example, as a society we expect teachers to treat all children
equally, yet respond to each child’s unique needs; to be strict yet forgiving; and to
be intellectually demanding yet leave no child behind.
Along with these widespread public ideals, teachers also commit to a variety
of personal ideals and visions of their ideal selves. They may strive to be fair, to
have a sense of humor, to maintain a quiet voice, to provide at least one encourag-
ing word to each student every day, or to make sure they give time to their most
needy students. Local districts also add demands, requiring teachers to add a cur-
riculum unit on the history of their town, or asking them to enforce a new hats-off
policy. Students, too, can place demands on teachers. A widely recognized phe-
nomenon in classrooms is students who bargain with teachers to reduce the intel-
lectual challenge of their assigned tasks (Metz, 1993; Sedlak, Wheeler, Pullin, &
Cusick, 1986).
Thus, from the teachers’ perspective, the education system is “noisy”: Teachers
are surrounded by multiple and conflicting messages about what is most impor-
tant to do. Furthermore, if they focus too much on any one of these important
ideals, they may compromise their effectiveness with another. For instance, meth-
ods used to contain student behavior can become so heavy-handed that they
reduce students’ motivation to participate in the lesson (McNeil, 1985), or meth-
ods used to make lessons more interesting or entertaining can inadvertently distort
the content itself (Doyle, 1986). In his classic study of American high schools,
Cusick (1983) argued that maintaining higher academic standards was only mar-
ginally important in high schools and that their foremost goal was to contain the
behaviors of students who did not want to be there. Similarly, Kennedy (2005)
found that, although elementary teachers wanted their students to be actively
engaged in learning, there was a limit to how much engagement they would toler-
ate, for too much engagement led to too much noise and classroom frenzy.
Because teachers’ work is inherently multifaceted and driven by a wide variety
of conflicting ideals and the ideas, any review of PD should attend to the particu-
lar ideas programs offer to teachers and the particular aspect of practice they hope
to improve. Later, in the “Method” section of this article, I identify four persistent
challenges of practice that I used to classify the goals of PD programs.
What Pedagogy Do Programs Use to Facilitate Enactment
of Their Ideas?
The second important feature of a PD theory of action has to do with how it
helps teachers translate new ideas into their own systems of practice. This is
important because PD programs typically meet with teachers outside of their
classrooms to talk about teaching, yet they expect their words to alter teachers’
behaviors inside the classroom. They are at risk for what Kennedy (1999) called
the problem of enactment, a phenomenon in which teachers can learn and espouse
one idea, yet continue enacting a different idea, out of habit, without even noticing
the contradiction. Furthermore, because PD providers work with practicing teach-
ers, they are by definition not merely offering a new idea but rather a different idea
from the one that has guided teachers in the past. Teachers participating in PD
have already developed their practice and they have already found ways to
balance among their many competing challenges and ideals. They are likely to
have formed habitual responses to students jumping out of their seats, to favor
certain methods of portraying particular curriculum content, to favor certain seat-
ing arrangements, bulletin board displays, and so forth. Thus, any new idea
offered by PD requires not merely adoption but also abandonment of a prior
approach. Later, in the “Method” section, I describe four methods of facilitating
enactment that I found in the studies reviewed here.
So this review characterizes PD theories of action by their main ideas and by
the way they help teachers enact those ideas. In addition, there is also an impor-
tant feature of PD research designs that is addressed in this review. A central
problem in PD research is ensuring that teachers in program and comparison
groups are actually comparable. When random assignment is not possible, a com-
mon method for identifying a comparison group for PD studies is to select teach-
ers whose teaching assignments match those of program teachers. Comparison
teachers teach the same grade levels, same subjects, and/or same types of stu-
dents. But this strategy fails to match teachers on their motivation to learn.
Typically, participating teachers chose to participate in PD, whereas comparison
teachers with similar teaching assignments did not. Hundreds of studies have been
done using comparison groups whose only similarity to the program teachers is
their teaching assignment. This review does not include such studies, on the
ground that researchers have not ensured comparable motivation to learn, and this
is the most important form of comparability when a study is about learning.
On the other side, there are also situations in which teachers are required to
participate in PD. When studies mandate teachers’ assignment to treatment and
comparison groups, they ensure that their two groups are comparable, but they do
so by ensuring that neither group is motivated to learn. Because the effects of any
PD program depends heavily on teachers’ motivation to learn and to change their
practice, studies using mandatory assignments may not have much effect on
learning. This is not to say that teachers will actively resist but rather that they will
forget about the program when they return to their classrooms. This review aims
to learn more about how PD programs and studies address these challenges and
whether their solutions make a difference to student learning. The next section
describes methods for searching the literature and analyzing studies.
This review examines experimental studies of PD carried out in K-12 general
education within the United States and published since 1975. The restriction to
the United States acknowledges that teaching is inherently cultural and varies
across nations (Hiebert et al., 2003; Roth et al., 2006; Stigler & Perry, 1988) and
that the United States is somewhat unique in its lack of a national curriculum. The
1975 time limit reflects the history of this field: Few, if any, experimental studies
of PD were carried out prior to that time. The review focuses on K-12 teachers
teaching core academic subjects (language arts, mathematics, the sciences, and
the social sciences). It does not include studies conducted in special subjects such
as art, music, physical education, agriculture, and so on, where pedagogical
demands can be quite different.
Search for Studies
The topic of PD is very popular. There could be thousands of articles written
about it almost every year, but the vast bulk of these articles do not present experi-
mental evidence. Some simply describe programs. Some include teacher testi-
mony. Others rely on classroom observations and still others measure student
learning. Some include a comparison group; others do not. Many studies combine
PD with other supports such as new curriculum materials or new technology.
Because of the large volume of work that is relevant but not eligible for this
review, I did not undertake a database search. Such searches are far too labor-
intensive relative to their yield. Instead, I first sought candidates from other
reviews of PD, including Blank, de las Alas, and Smith (2008); Borko (2004);
Hirsh and Hord (2008); Kennedy (1998); Lampert (1988); Loucks-Horsley and
Matsumoto (1999); Mitchell and Cubey (2003); Opfer and Pedder (2011); Sher
and O’Reilly (2009); Timperley et al. (2007); Wei, Darling-Hammond, and
Adamson (2010); Wideen, Mayer-Smith, and Moon (1998); and Yoon, Duncan,
Lee, Scarloss, and Spapley (2007).
These reviews appeared to adequately capture research prior to 2000, when
formal studies of PD were relatively rare. To ensure coverage after 2000, I hand-
searched journals that cover teacher education–related topics. I examined all
issues published from 2000 to 2014 from the following journals: American
Educational Research Journal, Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of
Teacher Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Teachers College Record,
Peabody Journal of Education, American Journal of Education, The Elementary
School Journal, Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, Journal of
Research in Science Teaching, School Science and Mathematics, and Reading
Research Quarterly. Finally, I examined the reference lists in the articles that I
found. Even after eliminating studies using the criteria outlined below, this
approach yielded 28 studies. This is far more than two other best-evidence synthe-
ses, each of which yielded fewer than 10.
Criteria for Study Selection
To ensure that the studies offered valid, and comparable, inferences about PD,
I required them to meet five criteria. These are described below.
The Study Is About PD Only
One thing that makes a review of PD difficult is that researchers use PD to
study many things other than the PD itself. That is, a researcher may be interested
in a new curriculum, a new teaching technique, or new classroom tool, but must
provide PD to enable teachers to use their innovation. To learn about the benefit
of the PD, itself, researchers need to make sure that participation in PD is the only
difference between groups. For, as Slavin, Lake, Hanley, and Thurston (2014)
pointed out, if teachers in two different PD programs are also teaching two differ-
ent curricula, then the effects of the PD are confounded with the effects of the
curriculum, so that differences in student achievement may actually reflect the
different curricula, not the PD per se.
Using this criterion, I excluded, for instance, Newman et al.’s (2012) study of
the new Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative as well as studies in
which PD was used to test the merits of instructional tools such as Simcalc
(Roschelle et al., 2010) or the merits of a computerized student assessment system
(e.g., Fuchs, 1991). I did allow curriculum-oriented PD studies when a compari-
son group taught the same new curriculum without the benefit of the PD (e.g.,
Borman, Gamoran, & Bowdon, 2008; Penuel, Gallagher, & Moorthy, 2011; Saxe,
Gearhart, & Nasir, 2001).
The Study Includes Evidence of Student Achievement
I rejected studies that did not provide evidence of student achievement, even if
they provided other forms of evidence such as teacher testimony, interviews, sur-
veys, or classroom observations. There are two reasons for this. First, the ultimate
goal of PD is to improve student learning. Second, measures of student learning
are relatively more similar across studies than are classroom observations or
teacher interviews, which are often tailored to capture activities uniquely relevant
to a PD program. However, measures of student achievement can also differ.
Conventional standardized tests and state assessments tend to cover a broader
array of content and may be less sensitive to specific program purposes.
Consequently, some researchers develop measures that are intentionally designed
to capture unique program effects. In the language of Ruiz-Primo, Shavelson,
Hamilton, and Klein (2002), these tailored instruments are more proximal to the
program, whereas district or state assessments are more distal. This review
includes both types of measures, but, as others have done (e.g., Roschelle et al.,
2010), it presents conventional measures such as state assessments or standard-
ized test scores as “M1” outcomes and those created specifically for the PD pro-
gram as “M2” outcomes. M2 measures are more closely aligned with the program
goals and might therefore be expected to demonstrate greater program impact.
The Study Design Controls for Motivation to Learn
I included studies that used mandatory assignments to groups, even though
these might reduce motivation to learn, on the ground that the groups are nonethe-
less comparable in their motivation. The remainder of the studies used a variety of
approaches to ensure teacher motivation even though teachers would be partici-
pating in different programs. Some invited teachers to participate and told them in
advance that this was a study and they might not be assigned to the program they
preferred. Some randomly assign volunteers to cohorts, so that everyone eventu-
ally gets the program but some get it a year later. One study (Glazerman et al.,
2010) mandated school assignments and then offered the program to teachers in
treatment schools. This procedure could have biased the study outcome, but the
authors measured program impact on all teachers in the schools, whether or not
they availed themselves of the service. Yet another approach (used by Roth et al.,
2011) was to offer two different programs and let teachers to self-select between
them. This approach would likely be rejected by conventional research standards;
however, it does assure that both groups are equal in their motivation to learn that
particular program. All these variations are included here.
A Minimum Study Duration of 1 Year
An important and underemphasized question in research on PD is whether
PD produces enduring changes in practice rather than temporary compliance.
Several studies with appropriate comparison groups and outcome measures
were rejected because they followed teachers and their students for only a few
weeks or months (e.g., Siegle & McCoach, 2007).
However, in many cases, the PD itself also extended throughout an entire
school year, so that even year-long measures of student learning were still coter-
minous with the PD itself. Ideally, PD research should follow teachers for at least
a full year after the completion of the PD itself, to discover the extent to which
teachers are able to sustain the new practice after the PD support is gone.
However, such a requirement would reduce the population of eligible studies to
just a handful.
Researchers Follow Teachers, Rather Than Students, Over Time
Long-term studies present unique problems to educational researchers
because teachers and students are reallocated each year and there is some con-
fusion about whether researchers should follow the students or the teachers
during ensuing school years. In one study (Heller, Dahler, Wong, Shinohara, &
Miratrix, 2012), the researchers assessed long-term impact by following the
students over time to see whether they still recalled the content they had origi-
nally learned from the program teachers. This study design tests whether teach-
ers had an enduring impact on their students, but not whether the program had
an enduring impact on the teachers. In another study (Campbell & Rowan,
1995), researchers compared program impact on students who had been in the
program for 1, 2, or 3 years, rather than comparing teachers’ performance
when teachers had participated for 1, 2, or 3 years. The question of interest is
in a PD study should be whether teachers themselves can sustain their improved
practices in the ensuing years.
How These Rules Differ From What Works Clearinghouse
The criteria described above are intended to yield strong-inference studies of
PD but they differ in important ways from those used by the What Works
Clearinghouse (WWC). For instance, the WWC’s 2007 review of PD literature
(Yoon et al., 2007) included only nine studies, four of which would have been
rejected using the criteria listed above. One of theirs (Duffy et al., 1986) was
rejected from this review because the study duration was only 6 months. Another
(McCutchen, Abbott, Green, & Beretvas, 2002) was rejected because even though
the authors claimed to randomly assign teachers to treatment and comparison con-
ditions, they also said that they gave certain schools preferential access to the
treatment condition, a decision that could bias the study outcome. Two others
(Marek & Methven, 1991; Tienken & Achilles, 2003) were rejected because they
selected a comparison group by matching comparison teachers to the treatment
teachers, a practice that fails to equate groups on their motivation to learn. On the
other side, this review includes studies that might have been rejected by the WWC
because of their unconventional assignment processes.
Estimating Individual Program Effects
The first step in analysis was to compute effect sizes for each student-learning
outcome in each study. Computations depended on the original approach to data
analysis. Most of the older studies used analysis of variance or covariance, but
some used student-level data; others used classroom-level data. More recent stud-
ies typically relied on hierarchical linear models. These different approaches yield
very different error terms, and hence different estimates of effect sizes. Below are
my methods of establishing effect sizes from the different kinds of data.
Student-Level Data
The first group of studies used student-level data, analyzed with analysis of
variance (ANOVA), analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), or t tests. Following
WWC (2013), I used Hedge’s g to calculate effect sizes, where
sn sn
pooled =
This estimate tends to be upwardly biased for small samples, however, and
many of these older studies used relatively small samples. There is a correction
for small samples, which multiplies effect size estimates by
This correction is not sufficient, however, when the researcher is interested in
teachers, for even though these studies had small samples of teachers, they had
much larger samples of students, so that corrections for small samples have neg-
ligible effects. Yet some correction is needed because students within each class-
room are not independent units and the researchers have not accounted for
dependencies within each classroom. To correct for these likely upwardly biased
estimates, I based Hedge’s correction on the number of teachers rather than the
number of students. This correction is conceptually appropriate, even if not statis-
tically customary.
Classroom-Level Data
The second group of studies also relied heavily on ANOVA or ANCOVA, but
used classrooms as their units of analysis. This analytic approach is conceptually
correct, because the unit being “treated” is the teacher; however, variations among
classrooms are much smaller than variations among individual students and so
effect sizes tended to be very large, often more than full standard deviation above
their comparison groups. None of these authors provided enough data to enable an
Role of Professional Development
estimate of student-level standard deviations. I therefore devised an ad hoc
approximation by dividing each effect size by four. My reasoning was as follows.
First, variance decomposition studies (see, e.g., Rowan, Correnti, & Miller, 2002)
suggest that variance among classrooms is roughly 15% to 20% of total variance,
whereas variance among students is roughly 60% to 70%. Roughly, then, class-
room variance is about a quarter the size of student variance. Second, within the
sample of studies included in this review, the average effect size based on class-
room units was .8 whereas the average effect based on student units was .19,
roughly one fourth of the classroom effect size. After correcting all estimates for
small samples and then dividing each class-level effect by 4, the average class-
level effect was .17, and the average student level effect was .18.
Hierarchical Data
The third and largest group of studies used hierarchical models and these also
varied considerably. Sometimes, individual teachers were allocated to treatments,
sometimes, whole schools were, and sometimes, learning communities within
schools were. The analytic approaches used for these studies were more complex
than those in the first two groups and many were idiosyncratic to the studies. In
most cases, I accepted the effect size estimates that authors offered. However,
when studies yielded effects that appeared to be outliers, I contacted the authors
to clarify the basis for their estimates and revised them if needed.
Within-Study Synthesis
Within each study, I calculated effects for every subgroup of students and/or
every outcome measure and then averaged these to yield a single average outcome
for each study. However, I retained distinctions between M1 and M2 measures so
that readers can see differences in effect across these types of outcomes, and I
retained distinctions across program years so that readers can see the differences
between immediate and delayed program effects.
Comparisons Across Programs
The programs reviewed here are too various to benefit from a formal meta-
analysis. Aggregating by any one dimension introduces important confounding on
another dimension and renders interpretations difficult. I rely instead on visual
displays that enable readers to see the unique effects of each program and to com-
pare them individually with one another.
Characterizing PD Programs
To articulate similarities and differences among PD programs, I sought a clas-
sification system that would sort programs according to the two central aspects of
their theories of action. Specifically, I categorized the content of the ideas they
provided and their method for facilitating enactment of those ideas.
Program Content
I sorted program content according to the type of teaching problems they
addressed, using a framework devised by Kennedy (2016). These are challenges
that virtually every teacher must address, as they are inherent in the work of
teaching, and most PD programs are designed to address one of them. The first of
these, and the one of most interest to observers, is portraying curriculum content
in a way that enables naïve minds to comprehend it. If students could learn cur-
riculum content simply by reading textbooks there would be no need for teachers.
But they need help making sense of new content. Thus, we see teachers provide
demonstrations, pictures, movies, hypothetical problems, walked-through exam-
ples, and so forth, and we see them devising learning activities for students to
engage in on their own. For many observers of teaching, these activities are the
essence of teaching, and we cannot say that someone is teaching if they are not
portraying content to students.
The second persistent challenge is to contain student behavior. Students are
energetic, excitable, boisterous, and easily distracted by one another. Teachers
need to contain their behavior in part as a matter of safety but also to ensure that
students are not distracting each other, or the teacher, from the lesson. The need
to contain student behavior is acknowledged in virtually every school district
performance assessment, where one or more items have to do with classroom
The third persistent challenge facing teachers is to enlist student participation.
Teachers face a captive audience, and sometimes a resistant audience. The prob-
lem here is that school attendance is compulsory but learning is not. And as learn-
ing theorists remind us (see, e.g., Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999) learning
cannot occur without active intellectual engagement. This situation creates a pre-
dicament for teachers, for, as Cohen (2011) argued, teachers cannot claim to be
teaching if students are not learning, yet students will not learn unless they them-
selves choose to actively participate in their lessons.
Finally, teachers must find ways to expose their students’ thinking. This fourth
persistent challenge may seem less obvious to observers than the first three, but
without knowing what students understand at any given moment, teachers cannot
know what to repeat, what to elaborate, or when to move on. Thus, we see teach-
ers asking students to solve problems, share their findings, respond to one anoth-
er’s ideas, read aloud, show their work, turn in assigned projects for review, and
so forth. Most school districts try to help teachers address this problem by provid-
ing them with formal assessment data, but the most useful knowledge for teachers
is the knowledge they have in the moment, for this knowledge can guide their
actions in the moment.
Thousands of hours have been spent arguing about the relative importance of
these persistent teaching challenges, but all are fundamental to teaching, and
teaching success depends on all four. Teachers cannot be said to be teaching
unless students are learning and students cannot learn unless teachers portray con-
tent in a way that is comprehensible to naïve thinkers, enlist student participation
in the lessons, contain distracting behavior among students, and expose student
thinking so that they can adjust their lessons accordingly.
Notice, too, that these problems must be addressed simultaneously and con-
tinuously. Each new student, each new group of students, and each new topic to
be taught requires teachers to think anew about how they will contain student
behavior in this new situation, how they will enlist participation in this new situ-
ation, how they will portray curriculum content in this new situation, and how
Role of Professional Development
they will expose their students’ thinking in this new situation. These four persis-
tent challenges provide a useful framework for characterizing PD programs. They
are broad enough to contain a wide variety of program ideas, yet different enough
to allow meaningful comparisons. Most program content fell easily into one or
another of these categories.
Facilitating Enactment
The second part of a PD theory of action consists of a strategy for helping
teachers enact new ideas within their own ongoing systems of practice. We have
always confronted philosophical questions about how knowledge influences
behavior, of course, but the question is further complicated in the case of teaching
because teachers have already developed systems of practice that they believe
optimally resolve the various challenges they face. For teachers, enacting a new
idea is not a matter of simple adoption but rather a matter of figuring out whether,
when, and how to incorporate that new idea into an ongoing system of practice
which is already satisfactory, and may also be largely habitual. I identified four
methods used by PD programs to facilitate enactment of their ideas.
The oldest and still most widespread method is prescription. Here, PD pro-
grams explicitly describe or demonstrate what they believe is the best way for
teachers to address a particular teaching problem. From the PD provider’s per-
spective, prescriptions reduce the amount of individual discretion or judgement
that is needed, thus ensuring that teachers do things exactly as the provider
intends. Furthermore, teachers are accustomed to receiving prescriptions. They
routinely receive prescriptive guidance in the form of new laws, new school orga-
nizational mechanisms, new curricula, schedules, discipline policies, assessment
systems, and record-keeping systems. Many popular and widely used commercial
PD programs are also heavily prescriptive. Prescriptions are typically presented
as universal, reducing the amount of flexibility or personal judgement teachers
will need to enact the idea. But prescriptions can backfire if they address only one
of the challenges teachers face, for in so doing they may exacerbate others.
Another way of facilitating enactment is through strategies. Strategies are dis-
tinctive in that they define their goals. Typically, PD programs convey a specific
goal that teachers should strive for and then provide a collection of illustrative prac-
tices that will achieve that goal. The practices themselves can be just as procedurally
detailed as prescriptions, but they differ in that they are accompanied by a rationale
that helps teachers understand when and why they should implement these strate-
gies. The challenge for PD is to make sure teachers understand the ultimate goal
well enough that they can decide independently when they will use each strategy.
The third way to facilitate enactment is through insight. By definition, insights
arise from self-generated “aha!” moments, but programs can foster new insights
by raising provocative questions that force teachers to reexamine familiar events
and come to see them differently. To understand how insights influence behavior,
imagine gaining a new insight into a colleague that makes you more suspicious of
him. As a result, you become more guarded in your future interactions with him,
more careful about revealing personal information, or perhaps more reluctant to
spend time with him. The insight alters your behavior in ways that could not be
prescribed by someone else. In fact, if someone else had warned you about this
colleague, you might not have changed your behavior at all because you might not
have fully grasped the practical implications of that person’s advice. PD programs
that rely on insights recognize the importance of teachers’ in-the-moment deci-
sions and hope to alter those decisions by changing the way teachers interpret
classroom situations in the moment and thus, how they respond to them.
Notice that these three methods of facilitating enactment lie along a continuum
in which enactment increasingly depends on teachers’ independent judgments.
Prescriptions tend to offer universal guidance, allowing teachers very little discre-
tionary judgment. Strategies are also procedurally detailed but their procedures
are defined as serving specific purposes and encourage professional judgements
as to when they should be used. Insights encourage even more professional judge-
ment, helping teachers learn to “see” situations differently and to make their own
decisions about how to respond.
There is yet a fourth approach that moves an additional step further toward
teacher autonomy. In this final approach, the PD presents a body of knowledge
that may not explicitly imply any particular action. By a body of knowledge, I
mean knowledge that is organized into a coherent body of interrelated concepts
and principles and that can be summarized in books, diagrams, and lectures. PD
programs that provide bodies of knowledge often look like traditional university
courses with textbooks and syllabi. Bodies of knowledge are inherently passive,
and we know very little about how such knowledge rises above its passive “body”
status to stimulate any particular teaching action. Thus, when PD offers teachers
a body of knowledge, it gives them maximum discretion regarding whether or
how teachers would do anything with that knowledge.
I used the frameworks above to define each program’s main ideas and methods
for facilitating enactment. I developed a set of criteria for connecting program con-
tent to the four persistent challenges of teaching and for connecting program peda-
gogies to each method of facilitating enactment. For example, prescriptions tend to
be procedural and universal; strategies also tend to be procedural but they include a
purpose and have a multiple-choice quality, in which teachers can select the proce-
dure that seems most appropriate in a given situation. Insights are less explicit and
tend to be “discovered” through study groups and discussions rather than didacti-
cally. Bodies of knowledge are often defined just as college courses are. When
research articles did not provide adequate information about the programs them-
selves, I went on line and sought further literature about the programs.
I also categorized details of research method, especially with respect to how
teachers were allocated to particular groups. When reports were not clear, I con-
tacted authors directly and sought out clarification. With respect to how teachers
were assigned to groups, I made a summary judgement as to whether the compari-
sons ensured comparable motivation to learn and rejected studies that did not.
Results and Interpretation
Distribution of Studies
Table 1 shows the distribution of PD research effort addressing different teach-
ing challenges and different methods of facilitating enactment. Many cells have
very few studies within them. Furthermore, studies within a given cell can also
differ in duration (1 year vs. 2 or 3 years), outcome measures (M1 or M2), and
study design (volunteer vs. mandatory assignment). Because each of these varia-
tions also has an impact on estimates of program effects, I do not aggregate stud-
ies in any way, but instead present their outcomes graphically. This enables readers
to consider each potential competing hypothesis when interpreting differences in
program effects. I begin with the largest group, which includes programs offering
ideas to help teachers portray curriculum content.
Portraying Curriculum Content
Table 2 lists 15 studies whose programs offer ideas about portraying curriculum
content, and Figure 1 graphically displays their effects on student achievement.
Figure 1 includes a lot of information and requires close inspection. Take a moment
to study it. Each icon represents a particular program. They are arrayed along a
vertical scale that represents the size of their effects on student achievement. The
simplest reading is this: Programs at the top of the graph were more effective than
those at the bottom. However, the icons also carry information about the programs
themselves, thus allowing for other kinds of comparisons. Larger icons represent
larger samples of teacher participants (hence perhaps more reliable estimates), and
darker icons indicate more time spent with teachers, with time being a proxy for
program intensity. The pattern of light and dark icons invites hypotheses about the
relationship between program intensity and program outcomes. In addition, round
icons represent M1 outcome measures and square icons represent M2 measures so
that readers can compare findings on either type of outcome. Finally, when studies
provide findings from both M1 and M2 measures, or provide findings from mul-
tiple years, their icons are grouped together or are connected by a line so that read-
ers can see that they come from the same program.
Consider first the vertical arrangement of the icons. Most reside between
roughly .00 and .20. This finding may surprise some readers; it has become popu-
lar to define effect sizes with terms like small or large, and effects in the area of
.2 or .3 are generally considered small. Using this tradition, almost all PD pro-
grams had small effects, regardless of the ideas they offered, how much time they
spent with teachers, or how they facilitated enactment of their ideas. But do not
Distribution of programs across teaching problems and methods of facilitating
Enactment facilitated by
Teaching problem Prescription Strategy Insight Knowledge Total
Portraying curricular content 5 4 3 3 15
Containing behavior 2 0 0 0 2
Enlisting participation 0 4 1 0 5
Exposing student thinking 1 2 3 0 6
Total 8 10 7 3 28
Programs helping teachers portray curricular content
Citation Main idea Facilitated by Comparison
PD contact
Number of
teachers M1 outcomes M2 outcomes
Cole (1992) Mississippi
Prescription No program 24 hours 1 year 12 el SAT reading
SAT mathematics
SAT language. arts
Sloan (1993) Direct Instruction Prescription No program 5 hours 1 year 10 el CTBS reading
CTBS math
CTBS science
CTBS social studies
et al. (2008);
Glazerman et al.
(2010); Isenberg
et al. (2009)
some strategy
51 hours/
3 years 517 Reading
Borman et al.
Science Immersion Prescription Curriculum
materials alone
30 hours 1 year 272 el District unit science
Garet et al. (2008) LETRS Coaching Prescription plus
Business as usual 48 hours 2 years 270, 250 el District reading tests
Penuel et al.
ESBD (Earth Science
by Design)
Strategy Curriculum
materials only
84 hours 1 year 53 sec Content
Garnier, Junker,
Resnick, &
Bickel (2009)
Questioning the
Strategy Regular literacy
72 hours 2 years 167 State assessment,
Citation Main idea Facilitated by Comparison
PD contact
Number of
teachers M1 outcomes M2 outcomes
Correnti, Junker,
and Bickel
Questioning the
Strategy Regular literacy
36 hours 1 year 73 State assessment,
Campbell and
Malkus (2011)
School Math Coaches Strategy No program 30 hours 3 years 418 State math assessment
Supovitz (2012) Linking Feedback Insight Test data alone 3 hours 1 year 64 District unit tests in
Gersten, Dimino,
Jayanthi, Kim,
and Santoro
Research Study
Insight Other reading
first PD
20 hours 1 year 81 el Oral vocabulary
Reading vocabulary
Passage comprehension
Givven, and
Stigler. (2010)
Lesson Analysis Insight 54 hours 1 year 51 el Selected
items from
district test
Garet et al. (2010);
Garet et al.
Rational Numbers Knowledge Business as usual 67 hours
Year 1
2 years 195 mid,
Year 1
Math knowledge
46 hours
Year 2
92 Year 2
Niess (2005) Oregon Math–
Science Partnership
Knowledge Business as usual 60 1 year 46 el-mid State math assessment
Note. el = elementary school; sec = secondary school; mid = middle school; CTBS = Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills; PD = professional development; LETRS = Language
Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling.
TABLE 2 (continued)
forget that the conventional model of PD is a three-step process: PD alters teach-
ers’ knowledge, which in turn alters their practices, which in turn alters student
learning. If there is slippage in any one of these steps, we might expect effects to
be diminished. Furthermore, when programs use coaches or other intermediaries
to work with teachers, they are essentially adding yet another step to this process:
They train the coaches, who then work with teachers. The nature of PD, therefore,
is such that we cannot rely on conventional definitions of small or large. Indeed,
Figure 1 suggests that, for studies of PD, an effect size of .2 could itself be con-
sidered rather large, especially when the outcome is a generalized M1 achieve-
ment test rather than a more closely aligned M2 test.
Another pattern revealed in Figure 1 has to do with study duration. When pro-
grams extend over 2 or more years, multiple icons are displayed, labeled “Y1”
and “Y2,” to represent effects at the end of each year. When studies follow teach-
ers for a year beyond the PD year, their follow-up years are depicted with a white
icon, indicating that teachers had no contact with the program during that year, so
that we are observing a delayed effect from the treatment. Notice that, in most
studies that included such a follow-up year, student achievement was higher at the
end of the follow-up year than at the end of the program year. This pattern is con-
sistent with other research suggesting that teachers improve their practices incre-
mentally over time (e.g., Horn, 2010; Huberman, 1994), so that the ultimate
effects of PD are likely not completely visible at the end of the program year.
The next pattern revealed in Figure 1 is that the most intensive programs
(darker icons) tended to have relatively weaker effects on student learning. Many
large, dark circles rest near or even below the baseline of Figure 1. This is a sur-
prising outcome, for these studies represent state-of-the-art research designs.
They include larger samples, randomized assignments, and more intensive inter-
ventions. But many of these studies also differ from others in that they mandated
FIGURE 1. Effectiveness of programs helping teachers portray curricular content.
Note. Each icon represents a study. The size of the icon is proportional to the number of participating
teachers and the darkness is proportional to the amount of time the PD spent with teachers, so that
both size and color are indicators of the program’s level of effort. When a study followed teachers
beyond the treatment year, the later years are represented by hollow icons. Round icons represent
M1 measures and square icons represent M2 measures. Small dots layered over an icon mean that
the program’s effect size was divided by 4 to adjust for class-level units of analysis.
Role of Professional Development
participation, a practice that disregards teachers’ motivation to learn. Thus, we
cannot separate the effect of assignment from the effect of program intensity.
Finally, with respect to the relative merits of different approaches to facilitating
enactment, notice that the icons arrayed in Figure 1 form an inverted “U” shape, such
that those in the middle of the figure, which relied on strategies or insights to facili-
tate enactment, had greater effects on student learning relative to those that offered
prescriptions or bodies of knowledge. Let us now review the programs individually.
Enactment via Prescription
The leftmost section of Figure 1 presents findings from five programs that
relied on prescriptions to facilitate enactment.
Mississippi’s Competencies (Cole, 1992) introduced teachers to 14 compe-
tencies deemed essential in the early 1990s.
Direct Instruction (Sloan, 1993) introduced teachers to Madeline Hunter’s
model of instruction, also popular in the early 1990s.
Comprehensive Induction (Glazerman et al., 2008, Glazerman et al., 2010;
Isenberg et al., 2009) provided local coaches who observed and guided
novice teachers to comply with a rubric-defined set of practices. The
researchers examined both a 1-year version and a 2-year version of the
program, and in each case followed teachers through a third year.
LETRS, or Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling
(Garet et al., 2008) shared research-based findings outlined in a National
Reading Panel (2000) report. The program provided seminars (called insti-
tutes) alone, as well as seminars with coaches who helped teachers imple-
ment seminar recommendations. The icon shown in the prescription section
of Figure 1 represents the version with coaches.
Science Immersion (Borman et al., 2008) prescribed methods for implement-
ing a new science immersion curriculum in the Los Angeles school system.
These programs differed substantially in the amount of time they spent with
teachers. For his Direct Instruction program, Sloan (1993) held one meeting with
teachers to lay out Hunter’s eight elements of a good lesson and to list the specific
skills and procedures needed to achieve each element. He then quizzed teachers
on what they had learned and provided a second session in which he retaught
some of the skills. Even with a second meeting, the total contact time was still just
5 hours. In contrast, the LETRS program provided 48 hours of seminar time and
an additional 60 hours of coaching time distributed throughout the year.
To see what highly detailed prescriptive messages look like, consider a sample
manual from the Science Immersion program. This manual is 206 pages and
describes a single fourth-grade unit (“Rot it right,” 2006). The manual reminds
teachers, in preparation for the unit, to
ask students to start collecting bottles 4–6 weeks in advance to ensure that you have
plenty of bottles to work with. Terraqua Columns require 2-liter plastic bottles.
Decomposition Columns require 16 oz. plastic bottles. Make sure that a few extra
bottles are available for student groups that encounter a problem while constructing
the columns and need to start over. (p. 17)
Each lesson description begins with an enumeration of the steps that need to
occur, like this:
1. To set the tone for this investigation as an exploration, generate a class discussion
and class list about what plants need for growth and development.
2. Use the Think Aloud technique to model how to refine a wondering into a good
scientific investigation. From the students’ list about what plants need, form the
question—What effect does sunlight have on radish plant growth and development?
3. Continue the Think Aloud to model assembling the Terraqua Columns using
proper experimental procedures, and designing an experiment that has only one
factor that is varied.
4. Have students record and explain their predictions for each set of columns for
later reference.
5. . . . (p. 21)
As this example illustrates, prescriptions are very direct and often very detailed,
but Figure 1 suggests that they are not the best way to facilitate enactment of new
ideas. However, the three largest studies in this group also relied on mandatory
assignments, thus perhaps reducing program effectiveness by removing teachers’
motivation to learn.
Enactment via Strategy
The second batch of programs shown in Figure 1 depicts three programs, each
of which addressed a different school subject.
ESBD, or Earth Science by Design (Penuel et al., 2011), is based on the
broader Understanding by Design system (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).
The authors gave teachers a highly scripted step-by step lesson-planning
strategy that guided them from long-term goals to specific classroom
events, in the hope of helping them become more strategic in their lesson
School Math Coaches (Campbell & Malkus, 2011) provided coaches who
collaborated with teachers over a three-year period as they designed their
mathematics lessons, thus helping them learn to think more strategically.
Questioning the Author (Matsumura et al., 2010; Matsumura et al., 2013;
Matsumura, Garnier, Junker, Resnick, & Bickel 2009) provided coaches to
help teachers learn an approach to classroom discussion that might improve
students’ reading comprehension.
Notice that the Earth Science by Design program is represented with a square
icon, reminding us that the outcome is an M2 measure rather than an M1 measure.
Because M2 measures are more closely aligned with program goals, they often
yield larger effects. But all three programs had a greater impact on student
Role of Professional Development
learning than did any of the more prescriptive programs. Notice, too, that two
programs in this group have multiple icons because they were both multiyear
programs. In both cases, their darker icons depicting later years reflect that the
total accumulated time teachers spent across all years of participation.
These two multiyear programs illustrate the problem of focusing on PD design
features. Both relied on coaches, as did two programs in the prescriptive group, but
these two programs were far more effective than the first two. The concept of coach-
ing is very popular today, and is often recommended as a PD design feature. But
coaches in the prescriptive programs used standardized templates to observe and eval-
uate teachers’ practices and to demonstrate recommended practices, whereas coaches
in the strategic programs adopted a collaborative, joint problem-solving approach
designed to help teachers develop a more strategic approach to their lessons.
Enactment via Insight
Turning to the third section of Figure 1, we see two programs designed to help
teachers gain new insights into teaching. There is a third study that also belongs
in this group but is not displayed because its report did not provide sufficient
information to compute comparable effect sizes.
The Research Study Group (Gersten et al., 2010) introduced teachers to
research-based reading strategies, content very similar to that provided by
the LETRS program, but it relied on study groups who collectively exam-
ined the findings and made their own decisions about how they might
design forthcoming lessons in light of these findings.
Linking Feedback (Supovitz, 2012) was designed to add (and link)
classroom observation feedback to an already-existing district-wide
formative assessment feedback system. In this case, the district had
already introduced the assessment system and had formed professional
learning communities to examine their data. The only thing the PD pro-
gram did was add observation feedback in the hope that the linked com-
bination would help teachers generate more or better ideas about what
to do next.
The third program, Video Lesson Analysis (Santagata et al., 2010) guided
teachers through a process of examining videotaped lessons, conjecturing
about how the lesson could have been improved, and ultimately designing
and implemented their own lessons for that same content. The program
effect could not be calculated in the same metric as the others and so is not
displayed in Figure 1. However, its effect was resoundingly negative, mak-
ing it differ substantially from the others in this group.
All three of these programs relied on some form of professional learning commu-
nities, or PLCs, to help teachers gain new insights. Like coaches, PLCs are popular
today as a means of engaging teachers in productive discussions about teaching. Yet
these three examples of PLC-based PD differed substantially in their effectiveness.
One important difference among these programs had to do with the content
they examined. In the most effective program, teachers read research articles
about effective practice and discussed the implications of these findings together.
In the middle one, they examined factual information about their own teaching
with no suggestions about how to make sense of that feedback. In the third, not
shown here, teachers viewed videotapes individually and responded to computer-
ized questions before discussing the videos with colleagues, so their participation
may have been relatively more passive. Furthermore, their participation was man-
datory, so they might have been less motivated to learn.
Enactment via Bodies of Knowledge
The fourth and rightmost section of Figure 1 displays outcomes from three
programs which provided teachers with bodies of knowledge. In these programs,
content was presented more didactically, with relatively less attention to implica-
tions for enactment.
LETRS (Garet et al., 2008) institutes provided the same content that LETRS
coaches did. In this case, teachers attended a series of day-long institutes
interspersed throughout the school year, each covering a single research-
based topic (e.g., phonemes, phonemic awareness, etc.), and each accom-
panied by a textbook on that topic. However, teachers in this program did
not receive additional guidance from coaches.
Rational Numbers (Garet et al., 2010; Garet et al., 2011) provided intermit-
tent institutes in a format very similar to the LETRS program. Each insti-
tute included lectures and overheads interspersed with opportunities for
teachers to solve mathematical problems, explain how they solved prob-
lems, discuss student misconceptions about these topics, and plan lessons
that they would teach later on. The program also included a modest supple-
mental component to help teachers apply their new knowledge to their
classroom instruction.
The Oregon MSP, or Mathematics and Science Partnership (Niess, 2005),
used NTCM standards as its organizing framework and offered a 2-week
summer institute followed by three semester-length courses in probability
and statistics, geometry and measurement, number sense and algebra. There
was also an online discussion forum designed to keep teachers’ attention
focused on this content and to facilitate their use of this new knowledge.
In this section of Figure 1, the two less effective programs also used mandatory
assignments, whereas the Oregon MSP study randomly assigned volunteers.
Figure 1 as a Whole
We can now use Figure 1 to compare over a dozen programs that are addressing
the same fundamental challenge of teaching, that is, portraying curriculum content
in a way that makes it comprehensible to naïve thinkers. But these programs facili-
tated enactment in different ways. In fact it is now possible to contrast programs that
not only addressed the same problem but that also provided the same specific con-
tent. Three different programs provided teachers with knowledge about research-
based practices for teaching reading and spelling, but they facilitated enactment in
different ways. One, the LETRS coaching program, provided prescriptive guidance
Role of Professional Development
inside the classroom. Another, the LETRS institutes, provided a body of knowledge
via seminars and textbooks. The third, the Research Study Group, gave each group
research reports to think about and discuss as they devised their own lessons. The
greater success of this third approach suggests the importance of giving teachers the
time and opportunity to make their own sense of new ideas.
But there is another important finding here as well: Notice that the two ver-
sions of LETRS also differed in their effectiveness, and that LETRS institutes
were more effective alone than when they were combined with the coaching com-
ponent. The prevailing wisdom about PD, based on salient design features, sug-
gests that more is better, but these findings raise questions about when “more”
might actually be detrimental. One hypothesis is that prescriptions themselves are
inherently less effective, so much so that they have diminished the effect of the
institutes by themselves. Another is that the negative effect of mandatory assign-
ments becomes stronger as programs become more intensive. That is, teachers
who did not choose to be there in the first place become less and less willing to
comply over time.
The pattern of program outcomes depicted in Figure 1 invites at least two kinds
of hypotheses for how PD influences practice. One has to do with how programs
facilitate enactment of their ideas, the other with how program-assignment meth-
ods affect program outcomes. Among all 15 studies displayed in Figure 1, pro-
gram effectiveness averaged .10, but when studies using mandatory assignments
are excluded, the average effect increases to .16.
Addressing Other Persistent Challenges of Teaching
I now turn to PD programs that address other persistent challenges of teaching.
These programs are listed in Table 3 and depicted in Figure 2. Figure 2 sorts pro-
grams according to which challenge they address, rather than according to how
they facilitate enactment of their ideas. In the rightmost section are programs
already displayed in Figure 1, but now only studies relying on voluntary assign-
ments are included, so that the studies are more comparable with other studies
presented here.
Containing Student Behavior
Two programs offered teachers ideas about containing student behavior.
PPA-1, or Process–Product Admonitions (Anderson et al., 1979), con-
sisted of a single 3-hour meeting with teachers in which the authors
describing 22 recommended practices and gave teachers a manual. Then
the authors visited half of the participants during the year to document
implementation. In essence, they created two treatments groups, one con-
sisting only of PD, and the other consisting of PD combined with obser-
vation (but only observation, no feedback). The two versions are
connected with a line in Figure 2.
PPA-2 (Coladarci & Gage, 1984) provided the same content as the above
program but instead of meeting with teachers to review their admonitions,
these authors simply mailed them the manual.
Programs helping teachers contain behavior, enlist participation, or expose student thinking
Citation Main idea
facilitated by
domain Comparison
Total PD
teachers M1 outcomes M2 outcomes
Containing Behavior
Evertson, and
Brophy (1979)
PPA-1, Process–
Prescription Language arts No program 3 hours 1 year 27 el Reading
Coladarci and
Gage (1984)
PPA-2, Process–
Prescription Generic No program 0 hours 1 year 28 el CTBS reading
Enlisting Participation
Connell, and
Lorentz (2001)
CMCD Strategy Math Math
27 hours 1 year 21 (est) State
Sailors and Price
Reading Coach Strategy Language arts Summer
17 hours 1 year 44 el-
reading test
Greenleaf et al.
Reading in
Strategy Science Business as
46 hours/
2 years 105 sec State
in reading,
language arts,
and biology
Yokoi, and
Brooks (1999)
Using Books in
Strategy Language arts Books alone 38 hours 1 year 18 el PPVT Concepts about print
Ohio Word
Hearing sounds in words
Letter Identification
Writing vocabulary
Allen, Pianta,
Mikami, and
Lun (2011)
CLASS Insight Generic Videotaped
lessons, no
22 hours 2 years 78 sec State
in teacher’s
Citation Main idea
facilitated by
domain Comparison
Total PD
teachers M1 outcomes M2 outcomes
Exposing Student Thinking
Roth et al. (2011) Science Story
Strategy and
Science Science
64 hours 1 year 48 el Photosynthesis
Water cycle
Food webs
Roth, Taylor,
Wilson, and
Landes (2013)
Science Story
Strategy and
Science Science
54 hours 1 year 75 el Food webs
Water cycle
Saxe et al.
IMA (Integrated
Strategy Math Curriculum
study group
56 hours 1 year 17 el Math
Math concepts
Chiang, and
Loef (1989)
CGI (Cognitively
Insight Math No program 80 hours 1 year 39 el ITBS number
Jacobs, Franke,
Levi, and
Battey (2007)
Insight Math Business as
35 hours 1 year 103 Relational thinking
Mazzie (2008) Formative
Knowledge Science No program 38 hours 1 year 21 el State science
Note. el = elementary school; sec = secondary school; mid = middle school; PD = professional development; CTBS = Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills; CMCD = Consistency
Management and Cooperative Discipline; PPVT= Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test; ITBS = Iowa Test of Basic skills.
TABLE 3 (continued)
Both programs were prescriptive and both built on early “process–product”
research, in which researchers sought relationships between observed teaching
practices and student learning. Examples of their prescriptions include “The
teacher should use a standard and predictable signal to get the children’s atten-
tion,” or “When call-outs occur, the teacher should remind the child that everyone
gets a turn and he must wait his turn to answer.”
Notice how different these programs were in their effectiveness, given that their
content is exactly the same, and given that all participants were volunteers. These dif-
ferences introduce the possibility that teachers’ participation might also reflect a social
motivation. When the first authors (Anderson et al., 1979) solicited teachers, they
made it clear that they were researchers and that they wanted to test the findings from
process–product research. Thus, teachers who agreed to participate did so in order to
help the researcher, not because they necessarily believed that they needed to change
their own practice or learn anything new. But the social motivation would have been
diminished when teachers were observed, and would have disappeared altogether
when the admonitions were mailed to them. That this same content could have such
different effects across methods of presentation raises important questions for pro-
gram developers today, when programs are more likely to be mandated, and when
multiple programs, rules, and regulations compete for teachers’ attention.
Enlisting Participation
Five programs were designed to help teachers enlist student participation. Four
of them used strategies to represent their ideas, the fifth relied on insights.
CMCD, or Consistency Management and Cooperative Discipline (Freiberg
et al., 2001), emphasized strategies for encouraging sharing, mutual
FIGURE 2. Effectiveness of programs addressing other persistent problems of practice.
Note. Each icon represents a study. The size of the icon is proportional to the number of participating
teachers, and its darkness is proportional to the amount of time the PD spent with teachers, so that
both size and color are indicators of the program’s level of effort. When a study followed teachers
beyond the treatment year, the later years are represented by hollow icons. Round icons represent
M1 measures and square icons represent M2 measures. Small dots layered over an icon mean that
the program’s effect size was divided by 4 to adjust for class-level units of analysis.
Role of Professional Development
responsibility, self-discipline, and participation in the formation of class-
room rules.
Using Books (McGill-Franzen et al., 1999) offered strategies for kindergar-
ten teachers to engage children with books even though the children could
not read, as a way of increasing their motivation to learn. Strategies
involved the physical design of the classroom, the use of displays, reading
aloud, sorting books into “collections” based on themes, and incorporating
literacy activities during play.
Reading Coaches (Sailors & Price, 2010) taught teachers to help children
make self-conscious inferences while reading, as a way to foster intellec-
tual engagement. Coaches cotaught some lessons with the teachers, pro-
vided demonstration lessons, and provided feedback on the teachers’ own
practices. Comparison teachers received a common institute but no coach-
ing assistance.
Reading in Science (Greenleaf et al., 2011) introduced secondary biology
teachers to the kind of cognitive strategies that are often used by language
arts teachers, as a way to help ELL (English-language learners) students
who often have difficulty reading science textbooks. The study is unusual
in that no data were collected during the program year. So even though the
program was very intensive, its icons are white, reflecting the fact that no
program activities occurred during the year of data collection.
CLASS (Allen et al., 2011) provided long-distance consultations based on
concepts embedded in the Classroom Assessment Scoring System. In the
PD, teachers videotaped sample lessons approximately every 2 weeks and
sent their tapes to an online “teaching partner.” Then the two would talk
about the lesson.
The first four of these programs relied on strategies to facilitate enactment.
They each provided clear procedural recommendations to teachers but they also
provided a clear purpose for their recommendations along with guidance regard-
ing when these strategies would be most appropriate. The fifth program facilitated
enactment through insights. Teaching partners were far less directive in their con-
versations with teachers, and instead used “prompts” to help teachers notice dif-
ferent things in their videotapes. For instance, a “nice work” prompt might say,
“You do a nice job letting the students talk. It seems like they are really feeling
involved. Why do you think this worked?” A “consider this” prompt might look
like this:
One aspect of Teacher Sensitivity is when you consistently monitor students for cues
and when you notice they need extra support or assistance. In this clip, what does the
boy in the front row do that shows you that he needs your support at this moment?
What criteria did you use to gauge when to move on?
Notice that the teaching partner was not suggesting any specific procedures to
teachers, nor explicitly outlining a new strategic goal. Instead, the partner posed
questions that might help teachers gain new insights into their own everyday
experiences in the classroom.
The three white icons in this group are also worth discussion. All three repre-
sent program effects that appeared the year after the program was completed. We
can see, for instance, that teachers participating in the CLASS program improved
substantially after the program was completed. The Reading in Science icons also
represent a follow-up year, but these authors presented no initial-year findings.
The Reading in Science program is a model of the kind of PD that experts have
been advocating, in that it spent a long time (45 hours) with teachers, sought to
ensure that they were actively engaged, and used a lot of classroom artifacts such
as videos and examples of student work. Yet it was less effective in its follow-up
year than the CLASS program, which spent only about 15 hours with teachers.
Once again, these comparisons raise questions about the efficacy of any discrete
program design feature.
Exposing Student Thinking
Moving to the third section of Figure 2, we find four studies focused on expos-
ing student thinking.
Formative Assessment (Mazzie, 2008) provided teachers with a 3-credit
course on standards-based formative assessment practices. The course cov-
ered topics such as performance rubrics, multiple-choice tests, and portfo-
lio assessment but no content about interpreting test scores or revising
instruction in response to the scores.
IMA, or Integrated Mathematics Assessment (Saxe et al., 2001), was
the only program to provide strategies for teachers. Based on a new
mathematics curriculum, the program examined the content of each
unit, how children thought about that content, and children’s motiva-
tion to learn that content, and then offered strategies for exposing stu-
dent thinking during routine classroom activities such as whole-class
Science Story Lines (Roth et al., 2011; Roth et al., 2013) gave teachers both
strategies and insights. The program relied heavily on videotapes of sci-
ence lessons, encouraging teachers to attend to story lines they saw. One
story line had to do with how the scientific ideas were connected across
lesson segments; the other with how student thinking changed as the lesson
progressed. The program also offered clear strategies to help teachers
improve their own science lesson story lines and to get better at exposing
their students’ thinking.
CGI, or Cognitively Guided Instruction (Carpenter et al., 1989), also
sought to foster new insights in teachers. Teachers watched videotaped
interviews in which children talked about mathematical ideas, so that they
could see the students’ thought processes. Then they discussed questions
such as “How should instruction build on the counting strategies children
use to solve simple word problems?” and “How should symbols be linked
to children’s informal knowledge of addition and subtraction? The authors
never suggested any particular procedures or strategies for teaching stu-
dents, but instead used these conversations to help teachers develop their
own ideas.
Role of Professional Development
Algebraic Reasoning (Jacobs et al., 2007) also worked with elementary
mathematics teachers, helping them learn about the algebraic relationships
that underlay computational arithmetic and to attend to how students
understood these relationships. Teachers generated their own lessons but
the program encouraged them to pose different kinds of problems to their
students and to then bring student responses back to the PD group for
Figure 2 as a Whole
The remainder of Figure 2 displays programs already presented in Figure 1, but
it excludes studies that relied on mandated assignments. Figure 2 suggests that
guidance about any of these four persistent challenges is equally likely to increase
student achievement. This in itself is useful information, in that there is a ten-
dency for critics of education to press for PD that addresses primarily, or only,
subject matter knowledge. The pattern displayed in Figure 2 does not suggest that
any one problem domain is more likely to help teachers than any other is. On the
contrary, helping teachers with any of these persistent problems can lead to gains
in student achievement.
Most reviews of PD seek to define a list of critical program design features
such as program duration, topic, number of contact hours, or types of learning
activities (e.g., Blank & de las Alas, 2009; Kennedy, 1998; Sher & O’Reilly,
2009; Timperley et al., 2007). The prevalence of these reviews has led the field as
a whole to embrace a set of specific program design features that are presumed to
define high-quality PD. Desimone (2009) provided an excellent review of this
literature and used it to generate a framework for defining important aspects of
PD. Her work was cited by many authors reviewed here, and many authors
reviewed here assured readers that their PD programs met these widely advocated
design features. Yet this review suggests that program design features may be
unreliable predictors of program success.
Probably the most widely referenced requirement for PD is that it should focus
on content knowledge (Blank et al., 2008; Desimone, 2009; Yoon et al., 2007).
Many authors of PD studies reviewed here (e.g., Greenleaf et al., 2011; Heller
et al., 2012; Niess, 2005) cite the importance of content knowledge as a rationale
for their programs. Yet the findings presented here suggest that programs address-
ing any of the four persistent problems of teaching can improve teachers’ effec-
tiveness, and, in fact, programs that focused exclusively on content knowledge
tended to have less effect on student learning. When programs offering content
knowledge were successful, the content was subsumed under a broader goal, such
as helping teachers learn to expose student thinking.
Another widely recognized design feature is collective participation (e.g.,
Blank et al., 2008; Desimone, Garet, Birman, Porter, & Yoon, 2003; Loucks-
Horsley & Matsumoto, 1999; Yoon et al., 2007), and some authors whose studies
are reviewed here emphasized the importance of professional learning communi-
ties, or PLCs, as a rationale for their PD designs. But learning communities also
varied in their effectiveness and one of them, using video-based lesson analysis,
had a negative impact on student learning. Furthermore, at least one study in this
review (Saxe et al., 2001) used professional learning communities as the com-
parison group against which to test its own approach to PD. One reason for these
surprising findings is that different versions of PLCs differed in important, but
less often noticed, ways. In the most effective PLCs, the Research Study Groups
(Gersten et al., 2010), teachers were given research findings to think about, and
each group had a discussion leader to pose questions and keep conversations on
target. In contrast, teachers in the linking study were given factual information
about their students’ achievement and about their own classroom practices, but
were left to their own devices to make sense of that information. The third pro-
gram using PLCs relied on analysis of videotaped lessons, but much of the teach-
ers’ work was done individually as they responded to a series of programmed
questions. As researchers, we need to move past the concept of learning commu-
nities per se and begin examining the content such groups discuss and the nature
of intellectual work they are engaged in.
Another widely mentioned program design feature is program intensity, which
sometimes refers to the total amount of contact hours with teachers, sometimes to the
total span of time over which these hours are distributed, and sometimes to the vol-
ume of information transmitted. At least one set of authors reviewed here (Greenleaf
et al., 2011) mentioned a long span of time as a rationale for their program design;
many others mentioned the relevance of a large number of contact hours. But a
glance at the Figures 1 and 2 suggests that more intense programs—those with the
darkest icons—were not necessarily more likely to rise to the top of the graphs. Dark
icons seem to appear at the bottom of these figures as often, or even more often, than
at the top. But other variables, not discussed in the literature, are relevant here.
Program intensity appears to be less effective when combined with prescriptive mes-
sages, for instance, but more effective when messages provide strategies or insights.
Finally, another widely recognized program design feature is the use of
coaches, and again this review shows that coaches vary in their value. But again,
the value of coaches seems to depend on how they try to facilitate enactment.
Coaches in the LETRS and Comprehensive Induction programs tended to observe
and evaluate teachers for how well they complied with an observation rubric,
whereas coaches in more effective programs collaborated with teachers on lesson
planning, providing a model of strategic planning.
The limitations in popular lists of design features is nowhere more evident than
in the results of the earliest study reviewed (Anderson et al., 1979), in which the
authors spent only 3 hours with teachers describing a list of process–product
research findings. The program is among the most effective displayed in Figure 2.
Yet it made no mention of subject matter knowledge, spent very little time with
teachers, did not actively engage teachers in any learning activities, did not embed
its ideas in the curriculum, school settings or classroom settings, and did not invite
collective participation. Teachers participated individually rather than in groups,
and were simply given a list of general guidelines for their practice. Yet the pro-
gram yielded strong effects on student learning. One reason for this surprising
outcome may have to do with the study context. In 1979, PD was not nearly as
ubiquitous as it now is. The program likely offered a unique experience for par-
ticipating teachers and it did not compete with other initiatives for their attention.
Role of Professional Development
But another important distinction is that the authors treated the teachers more as
colleagues whose role was to help the researchers test this new model of instruc-
tion, rather than as teachers whose practices needed improvement. Thus, partici-
pation was in part socially motivated.
Education research is at a stage in which we have strong theories of student
learning, but we do not have well-developed ideas about teacher learning, nor
about how to help teachers incorporate new ideas into their ongoing systems of
practice. This disjuncture yields programs such as the Los Angeles Science
Immersion program which aims to actively immerse students in scientific activi-
ties but at the same time inundates teachers with volumes of prescriptive details
about how they should immerse their students in science. Why would we expect
these detailed prescriptions to work for teachers if we do not believe that they
work for students?
We also need to pay more attention to the people who provide PD. We have an
extensive literature on the kind of knowledge teachers need for teaching, includ-
ing constructs such as with-it-ness (Kounin, 1970), pedagogical content knowl-
edge (Shulman, 1987), and mathematical knowledge for teaching (Hill, Rowan, &
Ball, 2005) but we do not examine the knowledge needed by professional devel-
opers, nor do we have a language with which to characterize the environments of
their PD “classrooms.” Many of the more effective programs reviewed here were
offered by individuals or groups who had long histories of working with teachers,
were very familiar with teachers and with the problems they face, and based their
programs on their own personal experience and expertise. Many of the less effec-
tive programs were large-scale programs that relied on intermediaries—coaches
or small group facilitators who were hired specifically for the study, and whose
familiarity with teaching, or more importantly, with teacher learning, may have
been limited. There is little discussion in the literature about the nature of PD
expertise, how PD providers are selected, how they are prepared for their work, or
how their efficacy is assessed. These topics need to become part of our discussion
as we generate and test our PD theories of action.
With respect to research design, this review introduces new questions about the
role of motivation in PD. Mandated PD creates a problem for PD developers,
which is analogous to the problem teachers face: Attendance is mandatory but
learning is not. Among the entire array of studies reviewed here, the average
effect from studies that assigned volunteers was .16 on M1 measures, whereas the
average effect among studies using mandated assignments was .03. Studies that
scrupulously comply with the WWC assign teachers who have not indicated any
interest in PD. These studies cannot benefit from teachers’ motivation to learn and
are not good tests of the potential of the PD programs.
In addition to acknowledging the role of motivation in learning, we also need
research designs that acknowledge the slow and incremental way in which teach-
ers incorporate new ideas into their ongoing practices (see, e.g., Huberman, 1994).
Studies that are coterminous with the PD itself cannot tell us whether teachers
merely comply with program recommendations as long as they have to, whether
they continue building on the program’s ideas over time, or whether, perhaps, they
revise the advice so severely that its original meaning is lost. The differences we
see here between program effects at the end of the PD versus program effects a
year later provide a strong argument for researchers to follow teachers beyond the
end of the PD, and I would urge researchers to monitoring student learning for 1
or 2 years beyond the close of the PD itself.
Finally, we need to ask hard questions about programs that have negative
effects on teachers. It is certainly possible for a program to fail, but failure should
yield a null effect, not a negative effect. After looking closely at the programs
reviewed here, I suspect that negative effects arise from negative emotional
responses—perhaps resistance or resentment toward the program’s demands.
If we can tie our research designs and our PD models more closely to underly-
ing theories of teacher motivation and teacher learning, we will learn more from
our studies. We need to replace our current conception of “good” PD as comprising
a collection of particular design features with a conception that is based on more
nuanced understanding of what teachers do, what motivates them, and how they
learn and grow. We also need to reconceptualize teachers as people with their own
motivations and interests. The differences shown here among PD methods of facil-
itating enactment strongly suggest the importance of intellectually engaging teach-
ers with PD content, rather than simply presenting prescriptions or presenting
bodies of knowledge. Furthermore, the differences in program effectiveness when
studies compared groups of volunteers as opposed to groups of nonvolunteers
remind us of the role of teachers’ own volition in improving their practices. Future
research should attend more to how PD programs motivate teachers, how they
intellectually engage teachers, and to whether programs are meaningful to teachers
themselves. This is especially important in an era in which teachers receive numer-
ous messages about what they should be doing and in which these messages com-
pete for teachers’ attention. We need to ensure that PD promotes real learning
rather than merely adding more noise to their working environment.
The author wishes to acknowledge helpful feedback from many colleagues. They
are obviously not responsible for the article as it currently stands but were all generous,
thoughtful, and constructive in their responses to earlier drafts. These colleagues include
Laura Desimone, University of Pennsylvania; Michael Garet, American Institutes for
Research; Catherine Lewis, Mills College; Kathy Roth, BSCS, Colorado Springs; Tanya
Wright, Michigan State University; and Meng-Jia Wu, Loyola University of Chicago.
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MARY M. KENNEDY (Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University,
708 Applegate Lane, East Lansing, MI 48823; email: has a long
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reform expectations.
... The first, knowledge for practice, is knowledge produced by researchers with expected enactment by teachers. Teachers typically receive this knowledge in PD sessions organized around what Kennedy (2016) calls prescription: explicitly describing or demonstrating what teachers should do. ...
... Both knowledge in and knowledge of practice presume a great deal of teacher capacity for knowledge generation rooted in inquiry. When professional development projects draw on these conceptions and inquiry methods, they may foster what Kennedy (2016) calls "insight" by providing opportunities for teachers to re-examine their practices and beliefs. This alternative conception of knowledge of practice holds that knowledge production can be multi-directional and emphasizes that each site, with its unique characteristics, requires adjustments to accommodate evolving situations and contexts (Penuel et al., 2015). ...
This paper uses Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) to examine the boundary zone of teacher professional development within a multi-agency collaborative project. It highlights different goals, histories, and commitments that collided and intermingled to create tensions, contradictions, and opportunities for expansive learning. Although a policy mandate, use of the English Language Arts-Common Core State Standards created a common goal, however, interagency participants acted under strikingly different conceptions of effective teacher professional development. In an era of increased collaboration among agencies, this paper reconceptualizes interagency teacher professional development, serving as both a cautionary tale and a vision for the future.
... The quantitative and qualitative findings overshadowed the implementations of critical professional development features in line with new knowledge constructed and skills developed by implication classroom instruction improvements. Therefore, Kennedy [30] suggested that the important condition for effectiveness of PD practice depends on its valuable content than duration of the program though it is questioned by Darling-Hammond et al. [2] who ascertained that the five key elements are very critical and their contributions are relative to each other; if one is altered the effectiveness of CPD practices will be altered. The finding of this study confirms that all critical elements affect CPD practices and the efficacy of teachers' practices in the classrooms. ...
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Aims: The main purpose of the study was to evaluate contextualization of theory and practices of teachers' effective professional development features in primary schools in Ethiopia. Methodolody: Concurrent triangulation mixed method design was employed in the study. Questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussion, observation, and document examination were used to collect the data. A total of 615 participants took part in the study. The quantitative data were analyzed by using means, standard deviation, Pearson correlation, one-way-ANOVA, and multiple regression. The textual and contextual qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Both quantitative and qualitative data were interpreted and concurrently triangulated. Results: Teachers did not incorporate and implement professional development critical features in Original Research Article Geletu et al.; JESBS, 34(11): 121-132, 2021; Article no.JESBS.76564 122 continuous professional development (CPD) plans and activities. The prevailed effects from these professional development features were [content-focus, R 2 =.105, active learning, R 2 = .072, coherence (R 2 =.043, collective participation, R 2 =.037, and sustained duration, R 2 =.014]. The cumulative outcomes of effectiveness of CPD practices added to multiple regression (R 2 =.271) accounted for 27.1% to cause teachers' improve classroom instruction though professional dynamics predict that professional development practice is effective when it causes teachers improve professional practices. Teachers' participation in CPD activities, learning potential from CPD and application of new knowledge and pedagogical skills in the classroom were rated (M1=17.82, M2 = 15.74 & M3 = 14.79) by teachers and mentors and principals respectively. There was no statistically significant difference at p >.05 level in mean scores [F (2, 535) = 2.052, p = .135]. Conclusion: The findings of the study have implications for teachers in terms of planning and implementing specific class content and reflection activities in order to gain appropriate professional competences. Teachers need to upgrade their skills as they were not performing well in the classroom.
... Drawing from professional development research in general, we know it is difficult for professionals to change their practices at a meaningful level (Jacob & McGovern, 2015). Even when a TPD (teacher professional development) program succeeds in increasing teachers' knowledge, this does not necessarily lead to instructional changes or increased student learning (Kennedy, 2016). Kennedy named this phenomenon the problem of enactment, in which teachers can learn and espouse one idea yet continue enacting a different idea without even noticing the contradiction. ...
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Co‐teaching offers a unique opportunity space for literacy instruction; however, this opportunity is rarely optimized and the result on students' literacy growth is often unimpressive. We propose that co‐teaching is only a structural intervention, but it can become a powerful pedagogical intervention if teachers approach co‐teaching as an opportunity space to try out effective pedagogical practices that lead to student literacy growth. Studying, through mixed methods, the practices of literacy co‐teachers in early elementary, we identified important trends connected to student growth. We concluded that shared responsibility was a feature of highly effective pairs. Next, through interviews, we captured nuances of how effective dyads formed working relationships, planned together, communicated, reflected on instruction together, and organized resources. From such findings, we propose a model of change for how co‐teaching may lead to student growth—via positive co‐teaching relationships and continual shared reflection of instructional practice. Mirroring highly effective co‐teachers' approach, we provide a series of reflective co‐teaching guides to support other pairs of co‐teachers. These guides lead reading teachers throughout a school year and continually return to the essential question of: What can we do together that I cannot do alone?
... In the communicative partnership in LLS, researchers do research with teachers, rather than on teachers and treat teachers as key stakeholders (Kennedy, 2016;Kieran et al., 2013). This is a relationship that can best be described and constructed as a communicative partnership, in which both the theoretical and the practical elements of teacher education are fused together and in which, importantly, the processes and practices of that fusion are also shared between academics and teachers. ...
Twenty-one research papers on lesson and learning studies (LLS) based on Asian experiences were selected for this review. Three modes of "partner-ship" from the perspective of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) were used as a conceptual framework to analyse the selected papers with a focus on research-practice partnerships (RPPs) in LLS. By comparing and contrasting the modes revealed in these reviewed papers, RPPs in Asian contexts were categorized as cooperation, collaboration, and communication , which co-exist in LLS practices in the past decade. By analysing the embodiments, characteristics, and functions of each pattern of RPPs, a transitioning approach to constructing communicative RPPs in LLS is proposed as creating normalized interactions between research and practice, forming shared authentic objects, and reconceptualizing the scripts of research and practice in LLS. It has implications for developing both research and practice by strengthening RPPs through flexible and collective mutual understanding.
... The practices of teachers' effective professional development such as instructional-focus contents, active learning and collective participation were missed from CPD framework and practical toolkit. This practice contradicts with the findings of Desimone (2009), Desimone and Garet (2015), Kennedy (2016) and Darling-Hammond (2017) who suggested the inclusions of opportunities to learn features (content-focus, active learning and coherence) and structural features (sustained and intensive duration of time and collective participation). ...
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The study critically examined the practicability and ambiguity of primary and secondary schools teachers' continuous professional development policy framework and its practical toolkit. A qualitative method with content analysis design was employed throughout the study. The data were collected by using coded sheet checklists and analyzed on the bases of their themes and predetermined criteria. The finding indicated that there was lack of common understandings and harmonization among learning communities of practices on the framework and practical toolkit. The framework was generic, not transformative and didn't propose appropriate induction models like basic orientation, beginning teacher development and transformative induction models for novice teachers. The professional competency development areas were not exactly identified by educational leaders for veteran teachers to be practiced through effective professional development activities. The framework didn't show alignments among teachers' continuous professional development practices, teachers' performance evaluation and career growth paths. Teachers' professional development practices should focus on effective professional development (structural and opportunities to learn) features to improve their professional competencies, classroom practices and students' learning outcomes. Therefore, new professional development policy framework and practical toolkit should be developed to the standard and implemented on the right time to improve the professional competencies of Ethiopian primary and secondary schools' teachers .
... In recognizing the importance of understanding the contexts, we would like to suggest a practical inquiry into how LS, as a teacher professional learning approach, could serve its real purpose in the practical situations of teachers' work. Accordingly, researchers studying LS may want to consider LS as a unified process and content (that address teachers' practical concerns) and intellectually engage teachers with the content (Kennedy, 2016) instead of solely focusing on the success of implementing its procedural features as universal orthodoxy. ...
This chapter presents a professional development model for introducing preservice and inservice teachers to makerspaces and 3D printing. The model is based on a 3D Printing 4 Teaching & Learning project, a school/university partnership focused on maker and 3D learning. In the project, 13 inservice teachers were paired with 10 preservice teacher candidates and charged with integrating hands-on physical makerspaces and 3D modeling and printing activities into existing elementary, middle, or high school curricula. Two day-long workshops introduced participants to makerspace experiences. Teachers then completed projects with students organized around history/social studies or science/mathematics topics. Three primary recommendations emerged for integrating maker-based and 3D technologies into preservice and inservice teacher learning: 1) a growth-in-practice model, 2) preservice/inservice teams, 3) multiple approaches to the adoption of new technologies.
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Through English language teaching (ELT), educator professional development is an interesting and significant subject due to the fact it is in the interest of the educators’ career to make sure that its participants perform consistently with the highest degrees of agreed criteria. Correspondingly, educators mostly state a willingness to enhance their own education that allows them to enhance learners’ knowledge and consistent with the advent of the information-based community, the self-directed learning is vital for the employees. The self-directed professional development (PD) method is considered one option to improve vocational educators’ skills to improve their professionalism, learning development, and school development. Within the learning procedure, self-directed PD has used the rules of learning that are covered within the rules of individual teaching and the mental traits and ideas including motivation and grit that could have a mediating function in this area. Grit is critical within English language educator PD and improving it within educator PD means modeling it as a determinant of the learners’ success. In addition, comprehending motivation is vital for everybody intending to reduce expenses for PD, motivate employees, or be self-directed in their learning about the job. The purpose of the present literature review is to examine the function of such constructs in self-directed PD which is considered a great dimension of educator quality. Briefly, many applications are suggested for the scholastic beneficiaries.
This study identifies profiles for teacher collaboration related to five instructional practices (direct instruction, adaptive instruction, initiation of reading strategies, stimulation of reading engagement, and feedback provision) among middle school literacy teachers in South Korea. PISA 2018 data were utilized for a latent profile analysis that revealed four profiles: High Collaboration, Moderate Collaboration, Low Collaboration, and Assessment-centered Collaboration. A notable finding was the existence of a substantial Assessment-centered Collaboration group, comprising teachers whose primary collaboration focus was assessment standards. Moreover, it was found that the use of all five instructional practices was significantly higher among the higher-collaboration groups. Teacher collaboration profiles can aid in establishing clear goals and targeted support for sustained, impactful professional learning.
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Background/Context Research shows that teachers’ understandings of students, subject, and teaching influence their classroom practice. Additionally, teachers’ colleagues have a role in shaping individuals’ approaches to teaching and their responses to reform. Focus of Study To understand how interactions with colleagues support teachers’ informal learning, I examined teachers’ collegial conversations in a highly collaborative teacher community. Setting This research took place within a collaborative, improvement-oriented urban high school mathematics department that showed evidence of increasing access to and rigor in its curriculum. Participants Six high school mathematics teachers and the researcher as a participant observer worked together in a group focusing on detracking ninth-grade algebra classes. Research Design This 2-year ethnographic study went inside the teacher community, with the researcher teaching alongside the teachers to gain access to their interactions and workings. Data Collection and Analysis Approximately 100 hours of teachers’ collaborative conversations were observed and recorded through audio- and videotape and field notes. Using a situated learning framework and sociolinguistic analyses, I examined teacher-to-teacher talk that constituted episodes of pedagogical reasoning (EPRs) to understand how collegial conversations provide resources for teacher learning. Findings Across EPRs, two forms of discourse were important sites for representing, and sometimes learning about, teaching practice, which I call teaching replays and teaching rehearsals. Extended replays or rehearsals supported a re-visioning routine, interactions in which teachers elaborated, reconsidered, or revised their understanding of complex teaching situations while providing particular, emotionally involving accounts of the classroom. The examination of these interactions further specifies conditions that support teachers’ collegial learning. Conclusions Theoretically, this article illustrates a process of learning as recontextualiza-tion, as the teachers work between general teaching principles and specific occurrences in their classrooms. Practically, by highlighting the work that teachers do to make sense of innovative practices, this analysis provides a description of how collegial conversations can support teachers’ informal learning, supporting the development of professional communities.
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Teacher education programs typically teach novices about one part of teaching at a time. We might offer courses on different topics—cultural foundations, learning theory, or classroom management—or we may parse teaching practice itself into a set of discrete techniques, such as core teaching practices, that can be taught individually. Missing from our courses is attention to the ultimate purpose of these discrete parts—how specific concepts can help teachers achieve their goals, or how specific procedures can help them achieve their goals. Because we are now shifting from a focus on bodies of knowledge to a focus on depictions of practice, this article examines our efforts to parse teaching practice into lists of discrete procedures. It argues that we need to pay less attention to the visible behaviors of teaching and more attention to the purposes that are served by those behaviors. As a way to begin a conversation about parsing teachers’ purposes, I offer a proposal for conceptualizing teaching as a practice that entails five persistent problems, each of which presents a difficult challenge to teachers, and all of which compete for teachers’ attention. Viewed in this way, the role of teacher education is not to offer solutions to these problems, but instead to help novices learn to analyze these problems and to evaluate alternative courses of action for how well they address these problems.
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Teacher mobility is a factor that impacts schoolwide implementation of professional development programs. In this article, we present interim results of a longitudinal randomized field trial of a comprehensive literacy coaching program (Content-Focused Coaching, CFC) for improving instruction and learning in schools with high teacher mobility.Weinvestigate program effects on 73 new treatment and comparison teachers recruited to replace the large proportion of teachers who left their schools during the first year of the program. HLM analyses indicated that the CFC program predicted significantly higher school-level gains on the state standardized test for English language learners (N=496, ES=.51). By spring, the quality of teachers' self-reported and observed instruction in the CFC schools exceeded that of comparison teachers. Implications for accommodating new teachers into an ongoing and established coaching program to improve instruction and student learning, and conducting randomized trials in schools with high teacher turnover, are discussed.
In this article, we describe and report on the results of a study in Texas that tested 2 models of professional development for classroom teachers as a way of improving their practices and increasing the reading achievement of their students. To meet this goal, 44 participating teachers in grades 2-8 learned to teach their students cognitive reading strategies through 1 of 2 models of professional development. One group attended a traditional 2-day summer inservice; the second attended the workshop and received classroom-based support from a reading coach. Using a random-effects, multilevel, pretest-posttest comparison group design and a multilevel modeling analytic strategy, we determined the effects of these 2 models. The full intervention group (teachers who were coached) outperformed the partial intervention group (workshop only) in all the teacher observation and student achievement measures. This study demonstrates the potential of coaching as a viable model of the professional development of reading teachers.