Professional learning opportunities Teacher interpretation and utilization of targeted understandings and skills Teacher outcomes: change in practice no change in practice Student learning outcomes: improved not improved Student interpretation and utilization of targeted understandings and skills Student learning opportunities The Black Boxes of Teacher and Student Learning
Main Research Question What kinds of professional learning opportunities for teachers result in an impact on student outcomes?
Why limit the synthesis to studies with student outcomes? A professional development provider walks into a school ……. Delivers a workshop Supports teachers with ongoing observations and feedback Teachers successfully implement Student achievement DROPS
Leadership BES (Robinson, Hohepa & Lloyd) Leadership DimensionEffect size Establishing goals and expectationsAverage ES = 0.35 Strategic resourcingAverage ES =0.34 Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching Average ES =0.42 Promoting and participating in teacher learning & development Average ES =0.84 Ensuring an orderly & supportive environment Average ES =0.27
The Process of Selecting Core Studies Analysis of Student Outcomes Adequacy of methodology Significance of impact Core Studies Medium to high methodology Substantive quantitative and/or qualitative outcomes Medium to broad range Supplementary Studies Medium to high methodology but low or no impact on student outcomes Lower methodological adequacy but with substantive outcomes Mapped onto theoretical frameworkUsed to inform synthesis Characteristics of Professional Learning Associated with Medium/High Impact For Particular Contexts
▪ Formal educational policies/curriculum ▪ Prevailing discourses ▪ School organisation Wider social context The professional learning context ▪ People and practicalities ▪ Professional learning goals Responses of diverse teacher learners/communities Impact on diverse student learners Content of the professional development/learning opportunities Activities constructed to promote the learning Learning processes
Mapping the Studies 97 studies analysed against 84 characteristics - 90%+ inter-rater reliability Treated theoretical framework as neutral Short description for each characteristic entered onto an Excel spreadsheet Lots of blanks
Synthesis Structure Summary of findings Separate syntheses for: Mathematics Science Literacy Reframing social constructions of students Specific topics: Multiple roles of assessment Leadership Professional learning communities Secondary schools The role of personal teacher theories Case studies
Reflection activity In small groups, discuss one example of effective or ineffective professional development you had as a teacher (or similar),using the questions as a guide.
The Context of Professional Learning and Development
Voluntary or Compulsory? Neither who initiated the professional learning opportunities nor whether they were voluntary or compulsory was associated with particular outcomes for students What was more important was that teachers engaged in the learning process at some point.
Effective Contexts Extended time and frequent contact was necessary but not sufficient External expertise was typically necessary but not sufficient Prevailing discourses challenged Not necessarily school-based Opportunities to participate in a professional community of practice Active school leadership in school-based cases.
Active School Leadership Effective leaders: –Organised a supportive learning environment –Participated in the learning with teachers –Provided alternative visions, targets and goals for student outcomes and monitored them –Developed the leadership of others.
The Content of Professional Learning Reflected a view of teaching as a complex activity Different aspects of teaching & learning integrated in a coherent manner Aligned theory with practice Established clear links between teaching and learning outcomes Assessment used to focus teaching and enhance self-regulation Sustainability rarely reported.
Teacher Learning Activities All core studies employed a variety of activities Apart from listening to those with expertise, no single type of activity was common to all studies No individual activity stood out as more effective than others across studies or within particular categories Every type of activity that was associated with positive outcomes, was also associated with low or no impact.
Alignment of Activities to Content There was a clear alignment between the intended learning goals and the activities Individual activities often served multiple purposes Activities served to develop teachers’ understanding of the relationship between their teaching and student learning Providers engaged with teachers’ own theories of practice.
Typical Sequence of Professional Learning Opportunities
Teacher learning processes Changing practice in substantive ways is difficult Specific teacher learning processes were usually implied rather than specified Teachers’ responses were also more often implied than specified.
New Understandings All core studies involved teachers developing new understandings and extending their skills through becoming aware of new information Some new understandings were consistent with current positioning Others created dissonance with current positioning A few developed enhanced regulation of own and others’ learning.
What knowledge and skills do our students need? What knowledge and skills do we as professionals need? What has been the impact of our changed actions? Deepen professional knowledge and refine skills Engage students in new learning experiences Teacher inquiry and knowledge-building cycle to promote valued student outcomes
Conclusions If we are to be more sophisticated in how we approach teacher professional learning then the theoretical and empirical literatures need to be brought more closely together Alongside this we need more sophisticated theories of how to promote the professional learning of teachers.
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