01 SES 01 A, Evaluating Professional Development Programmes - England, Portugal and Cameroon
Many education reforms across Europe and the World rely on teacher learning and the improved teaching that follows to increase student learning, so understanding what makes professional development programmes effective is critical and strongly related to the conference theme of Education and Transition. Too often evaluating professional development means administering a satisfaction survey at the end of a workshop. Research in England by Muijs and Lindsay (2008) and Bubb and Earley (2010) found that participant satisfaction was the most commonly evaluated outcome while participants' use of new skills and student outcomes were the least likely to be evaluated. This is similar to findings in other countries (OECD, 2010; Wayne et al, 2008; Yoon et al, 2007).
However, it is complex. As Peter Earley and I have written, ‘Exposure to and participation in staff development activities may or may not bring about change to individuals’ beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours. These changes to individuals may or may not lead to changes in the classroom and school practice. And these changes may or may not lead to improvement in pupil outcomes’ (Bubb and Earley, 2010).
Opfer and Pedder (2011) have argued that the problem stems from simplistic conceptualisations of teacher professional learning that fail to consider how learning is embedded in professional lives.
The research questions that this paper addresses are:
- What are the important theoretical and conceptual issues related to the impact of teachers professional development on student learning?
- How can a framework of professional development be used in the design and evaluation of a programme to enhance knowledge and practice within science teaching?
This paper thus draws on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks in the work of researchers such as Guskey (2002), Desimone (2008), Huber (2011), Evans (2011) and King (2014) to improve the professional development model that I developed (Bubb, 2013). The model is a cycle with nine stages organised into three domains:
- Preparation: identify needs, baseline picture, set a goal and plan how to achieve it
- Learning: the development activity and the new learning (skills, knowledge and attitudes) that result
- Improvement: putting learning into practice, with impact on pupil learning and improved staff self-efficacy.
The model and its theoretical and conceptual frameworks are considered in the design and evaluation of a project aimed to improve the Science subject and pedagogic knowledge and skills of primary school teachers. Teaching England’s current Science curriculum (DfE, 2013) is a challenge for many primary teachers, because few have studied the subject beyond the age of 16. This project, funded by the London Schools Excellence Fund, aims to improve children’s learning as a result of teachers’ enhanced practice and their ability to disseminate their learning to their colleagues: 20 of the participants lead Science in their schools.
Berry, A., Loughran, J., Smith, K. and Lindsay, S. (2009). Capturing and enhancing science teachers’ professional knowledge. Research in Science Education, 39 (4), 575-594. Bubb, S. (2013) Developing from within: Towards a new model of staff development Professional Development Today, Issue 15.1-2, pp82-90. Bubb, S. and Earley, P. (2010) Helping Staff Develop in Schools London: Sage. Collinson, V., Kozina, E., Kate Lin, Y.-H., Ling, L., Matheson, I., Newcombe, L. and Zogla, I. (2009). Professional development for teachers: a world of change. European Journal of Teacher Education, 32 (1), 3-19. Desimone, L. M. (2009). 'Improving Impact Studies of Teachers' Professional Development: Toward Better Conceptualizations and Measures'. Educational Researcher, 38 (3), 181-199. DfE (2013) The National Curriculum. London: HMSO. Earley, P and Porritt V(Eds), Effective Practices in Continuing Professional Development. London: IoE Evans, L. (2011). The ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England. British Educational Research Journal, 37(5), 851-870. Huber, S. G. (2011). The impact of professional development: a theoretical model for empirical research, evaluation, planning and conducting training and development programmes. Professional Development in Education, 37 (5), 837-853. King, F. (2014) Evaluating the impact of teacher professional development: an evidence-based framework, Professional Development in Education, 40:1, 89-111 Muijs, D. and Lindsay, G. (2008). Where are we at? An empirical study of levels and methods of evaluating continuing professional development. British Educational Research Journal, 34(2), 195-211. OECD (2010). Teachers’ Professional Development: Europe in international comparison. Luxemburg: OECD. Opfer, V. D. and Pedder, D. (2011). Conceptualizing Teacher Professional Learning. Review of Educational Research, 81 (3), 376-407. Stolk, A., De Jong, O. & Pilot, A. (2012) Evaluating a Professional Development Framework to Empower Chemistry Teachers to Design Context-Based Education, International Journal of Science Education, Vol. 34, Iss. 10 Stoll, L, Harris, A and Handscomb, G, 2012, Great professional development which leads to great pedagogy. Nottingham: National College for School Leadership. Vescio, V., Ross, D. & Adams, A., 2008. A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 80-91. Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W. Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. L. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement. REL 2007-No. 033. Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest (NJ1). Wayne, A. J., Yoon, K. S., Zhu, P., Cronen, S., and Garet, M. S. (2008). Experimenting with teacher professional development: Motives and methods. Educational researcher, 37(8), 469-479.
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