Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Digging Deeper Into PD Research

By Learning Forward — May 19, 2011 1 min read

In my last blog post I noted that decades of research demonstrates the positive impact of professional development that is designed well and implemented with fidelity, and noted that, despite this fact, skepticism among researchers persists. This skepticism is based on numerous counter studies and reports showing that specific professional development initiatives “fail” to achieve their intended results.

Since we know that professional learning designed and executed well has positive impact on teacher performance and student achievement, I often wonder what went wrong the in the studies that showing no impact, or even “failure,” of these professional development initiatives. In reading the studies, I often find the failure is not in professional development itself, but is the result of the specific design of the professional development being studied, loose execution of the design, a lack of follow through on the part of the teachers, or administrators in the study. To test for these common breakdowns in professional development, I ask the following questions:


  1. Did the PD in the study offer a one-shot workshop and expect magic over night?
  2. Did the PD in the study offer a workshop and two follow up sessions then proceed to measure results?
  3. Did the PD in the study select content for teacher learning that did not align with the goals for student learning?
  4. Did the research and PD expect voluntary and occasional coaching to produce actual, long term improvements?
  5. Did the study evaluate outcomes prematurely when the initiative was really designed to have its full effect in three to five years?
  6. Did administrators abandon their responsibilities to those with little or no authority?

An affirmative answer to any of these questions is likely to result in a “false negative.” In other words, studies may find the professional development in question did not achieve its goals, but we must be vigilant in reminding the skeptics, and our colleagues, that quality professional learning is the only way we will continue to improve teaching and learning in our education enterprise--and that decades of high-quality research back up this fact.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The 4 Biggest Challenges of MTSS During Remote Learning: How Districts Are Adapting
Leaders share ways they have overcome the biggest obstacles of adapting a MTSS or RTI framework in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Student Well-Being Online Summit Keeping Students and Teachers Motivated and Engaged
Join experts to learn how to address teacher morale, identify students with low engagement, and share what is working in remote learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES
Larkspur, California
Tamalpais Union High School District
Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read