01 SES 01 C, Researching Approaches to Professional Development
School systems internationally acknowledge that the quality of teaching is the most critical in-school factor impacting on student outcomes (Hattie, 2008; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2005). Significant investments are made in teacher professional development (PD) in order to improve teaching quality yet few studies show clear impact of such activities (Avalos, 2011; Guskey & Yoon, 2009). In the absence of such evidence, two ways to address the quality of teaching which have gained political traction are: (1) restricting entry to teacher education to the ‘best and brightest’ (Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group [TEMAG], 2014) and (2) using sophisticated methods to evaluate the quality of teaching (Grissom & Youngs, 2015) to weed out the worst teachers. Given significant limitations of both approaches the question of how teaching quality can be improved remains a fundamental issue.
Despite the substantial corpus of research on PD, few studies directly link speciﬁc teacher development activities to changes in teaching practice and/or improved student outcomes (Desimone, 2009). A growing ‘consensus’ among scholars describes effective PD as involving: teachers and students as learners; integration into practice; coherence with schools and system policies; and promoting transformative practice rather than accountability. Most attempts to implement such PD have been expensive and yielded weak return on investment (Harris & Sass, 2011).
The approach to PD reported in this paper, Quality Teaching Rounds, builds on these “principles of effective PD”, is widely applicable and can be delivered at relatively low cost. The approach develops teachers’ practice but also supports their well-being and professional engagement, unlike some approaches that subject teachers to greater levels of accountability.
Quality Teaching Rounds brings together the benefits of teachers working in professional learning communities (PLCs) (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and engaging in a form of instructional “rounds” (Elmore, 2007), informed by the Quality Teaching pedagogical model (NSW Department of Education and Training [NSW DET], 2003). By adding a strong pedagogical model to collaborative PD activities, Quality Teaching Rounds (QTR) provides teachers with a common language and set of conceptual standards with which to engage in rigorous diagnostic professional conversations with colleagues (Bowe & Gore, 2017). The model and the approach to using the model are grounded in an analysis of prior research (Ladwig & King, 2003) and more than a decade of our own research (Gore, 2014).
Quality Teaching Rounds involves teachers working in a PLC to take turns observing each other’s teaching. Each “Round” commences with a reading discussion, followed by a lesson observation, coding and discussion, using the research-based constructs of the Quality Teaching model (NSW DET, 2003) as a basis. This pedagogical model has been widely used during the past decade in Australia, and is derived from work on Authentic Pedagogy (Newmann, Marks, & Gamoran, 1996) and an extensive synthesis of research on aspects of pedagogical practice that make a difference for student outcomes (Ladwig & King, 2003). The QT model focuses teachers' attention on three dimensions of pedagogy: (i) Intellectual Quality, (ii) Quality Learning Environment, and (iii) Signifïcance. The model offers a comprehensive account of teaching – and focuses attention more on “the practice of teaching” (Lampert, 2010, p. 29) than on a set of teaching practices. Its strength lies in shared concepts and language at a level of specificity that offers clear goals for teaching. Quality Teaching Rounds enable productive and valuable conversations about teaching practice through drawing on the QT model and ensuring a safe space for critical analysis.
Building on a series of preliminary studies (Gore, 2014), the study reported here was a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) conducted in government schools in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The methodology has been described in detail elsewhere (Gore et al., 2015). In brief, the project involved a rigorously designed RCT adhering to the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) guidelines for group trials (Moher et al., 2010). The three-arm RCT, conducted from mid-2014 to mid-2015, involved two intervention groups (“Set” and “Choice”) and a control group. Two full lessons per teacher for 192 teachers in 24 schools (8 in each school) were observed by the research team before Quality Teaching Rounds commenced (baseline), six months later when the intervention groups had ﬁnished, and again six months after that to consider sustainability of the intervention. The intervention involved teachers working in PLCs of three-to-eight teachers. Teachers in ‘Set’ schools were required to complete two full sets of Rounds, with each teacher being observed teaching a full lesson twice. Teachers in ‘Choice’ schools had the flexibility of doing either one or two full sets of Rounds. Intervention fidelity was measured through observations of a Round with at least one PLC in every school. The primary outcome, quality of teaching, was based on two observations of all participating teachers at each time point (i.e., baseline, 6 months, 12 months) through etic-type observations conducted by members of the research team, blinded to participants’ group allocation. A total of 1073 whole lessons were coded by the researchers. To determine interrater reliability, 122 lessons were simultaneously and independently rated by two or more researchers. Interrater reliability score (intraclass correlation) was ICC ¼ 0.76 (95%CI [0.65, 0.83], p < 0.001). Two teachers per school were selected to take part in semi-structured interviews during the study. Statistical analyses of the quantitative data were conducted using linear mixed models with alpha levels set at p < 0.05. The models were used to assess the impact of the two interventions (Set or Choice), time (baseline, 6-months, and 12-months), and the group-by-time interaction, with these three terms forming the base model. Results were classified further based on implementation fidelity findings. Qualitative analysis of teacher interviews was conducted, with all interview transcriptions read by at least two members of the research team.
Participating in QTR was found to significantly impact on the quality of teaching within a relatively short timeframe for teachers in a diverse range of schools (Gore, et al., 2017). Significant positive effects on the quality of teaching were established for the QTR intervention groups at post-test (6-months) (d = 0.4), and these effects were sustained at the point of delayed follow-up (12-months) for the intervention groups, Set (d = 0.2) and Choice (d = 0.5). These effects were independent of school type, location or years of teaching experience, and stronger when per protocol analysis was carried out. Effects on teacher morale were observed for the Set group at 6-months (d = 0.4) and for both Set and Choice groups at 12-months (d = 0.6 and d = 0.4 respectively). Effects on sense of recognition were also observed for the Set group at 6-months (d = 0.4) and for both Set and Choice groups at 12-months (d = 0.4 and d = 0.5 respectively). Teachers reported positive impacts on: their own and colleagues’ teaching; collegiality; school culture; their identity as teachers; and their students. Quality Teaching Rounds is an effective form of professional development, improving the quality of teaching across grades and for teachers at different stages of their careers. With demonstrated effects of our intervention on the quality of teaching, and on teacher morale and recognition, this study makes a signiﬁcant contribution to the ﬁeld of teacher professional development and provides an exciting foundation for further studies into such matters as: sustainability of impact; teachers at different career stages; impact on student outcomes; and impact across national contexts. This study's demonstration of improvement in the quality of teaching for teachers in a diverse range of schools and teaching contexts signals its potential value across school and community settings.
Avalos, B. (2011). Teacher professional development in Teaching and Teacher Education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27,10-20. Bowe, J. M., & Gore, J. M. (2017). Reassembling teacher professional development: The case for Quality Teaching Rounds. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 23(3). Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers' professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181-199. Elmore, R. F. (2007). Professional networks and school improvement. School Administrator, 64(4), 20-25. Gore, J. M. (2014). Towards quality and equity: The case for Quality Teaching Rounds. In Proceedings of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Research Conference, “Quality and equity: What does research tell us?” (pp. 86-91). Melbourne, Australia: ACER. Gore, J. M., Smith, M., Bowe, J., Ellis, H., Lloyd, A., & Lubans, D. (2015). Quality Teaching Rounds as a professional development intervention for enhancing the quality of teaching: Rationale and study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Educational Research, 74,82-95. Grissom, J. A., & Youngs, P. (Eds.). (2015). Improving teacher evaluation systems: Making the most of multiple measures. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Guskey, T. R., & Yoon, K. S. (2009). What works in professional development? Phi Delta Kappan, 90(7), 495-500. Harris, D. N., & Sass, T. R. (2011). Teacher training, teacher quality and student achievement. Journal of Public Economics, 95, 798-812. Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor & Francis. Ladwig, J. G., & King, M. B. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: An annotated bibliography. Sydney, Australia: NSW Department of Education and Training/Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate. Lampert, M. (2010). Learning teaching in, from, and for practice: What do we mean? Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 21-34. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. NSW Department of Education and Training. (NSW DET). (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: A classroom practice guide. Sydney, Australia: NSW Department of Education and Training/Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate. Newmann, F. M., Marks, H. M., & Gamoran, A. (1996). Authentic pedagogy and student performance. American Journal of Education, 104, 280-312. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (OECD). (2005). Teachers matter. Paris, France: Author. Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group. (TEMAG). (2014). Action now: Classroom ready teachers. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/system/ﬁles/doc/other/action_now_classroom_ready_teachers_accessible.pdf.
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