Teacher PD – Week 2 – Reading Notes

Ball, D., & Cohen, D. (1999). Toward a practice-based theory of professional education. Teaching as the Learning Profession San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • Plenty of PD but fragmented and without curriculum
  • To learn how to teach the way researchers envision would require a cultural change on the teachers
    • “This kind of teaching and learning would require that teachers become serious learners in and around their practice, rather than amassing strategies and activities.”, p.4
  • What would teachers need to know?
    • Content knowledge – how to explain in different ways to ensure learning
    • Children knowledge – how do they learn and what common misconceptions might arise
    • Context knowledge – socio-cultural background, gender differences, race, and so on
    • Pedagogical knowledge – teaching strategies, presentation styles
  • Learning in and from Practice
    • Classroom is unpredictable – how to teach appropriate reactions / strategies?
    • Learn while doing the job
      • “Teaching occurs in particulars – particular students interacting with particular teachers over particular ideas in particular circumstances.”, p.10
      • “To do so, teachers additionally need to learn how to investigate what students are doing and thinking, and how instruction has been understood, as class unfold.” p.11
    • Requires large amount of metacognition by the teacher – constantly analyze their practice – Formative Assessment.
      • “Teachers would need to learn how to use what they learn about student’ work and ideas to inform and improve teaching”, p.11
    • Requires teachers to strategize as to how to ensure learning for particular students
      • “Such learning is not only produced in response to what arises, but also includes a kind of predictive, imaginative anticipation.”, p.11
    • “Professional development could be substantially improved if we could develop ways to learn and teach about practice in practice”, p.12
  • Professional Education for Professional Learning
    • Professional Performance
    • Personal Resources to foster better learning
    • Investigation of Practice
    • Communities of Practice
  • Record the teaching
    • Student’s work
    • Teacher’s delivery
  • Discourse of Practice
    • Narrative of inquiry
      • “Instead of definitiveness of answers and fixed, the focus would be on possibilities, methods, of reasoning , alternative conjectures, and supporting evidence and arguments.”, p.17
  • Toward a Curriculum and Pedagogy for Professional Education
    • Promote professional interaction amongst teachers to enable synergic relations
  • A Curriculum for Professional Learning
    • Based on current practices
    • Example
      • Teachers did the assessment themselves to understand why their students were not doing well
    • Look at other teacher’s videos to be able to scrutinize with a removed attitude
    • Look at other student’s writing within a group and learn from it
    • Main points
      • Center professional inquiry in practice
      • Compare perspectives on practice
      • Promote collective profissional inquiry
  • A Pedagogy of Professional Development
    • Recorded material alone would not do it – have to engage with it meaningfully
    • Look at student’s assignments.
    • How to assess what is being learned in realtime?
    • How to plan a lesson, select materials, listen to students, ask questions, and decide what to do next.
    • How to teach inquiry of their own practice?
  • PD of PDers
    • “Ironically, while the role of the teacher educator is critical to any effort to change the landscape of professional development, it is a role for which few people have any preparation and in which there are few opportunities for continued learning: the is little professional development for professional developers.”, p. 28

van Driel, J. H., Meirink, J. A., Van Veen, K., & Zwart, R. C. (2012). Current trends and missing links in studies on teacher professional development in science education: a review of design features and quality of research.
Studies in science education, 48(2), 129-160.

“They consider new teaching practices as practical when (a) efficient procedures are available to translate innovative ideals into concrete instruction; (b) the change in proposal fits their current practice and goals sufficiently; and (c) implementation of the innovation will require limited investment, whereas the expected benefits are substantial (Doyle & Ponder, 1977).“, p.130

Core design features of PD programs:

  1. Focus
    1. Classroom practice
    2. Teaching and learning of subject matter
    3. PCK
    4. Student learning processes regarding specific subject matter
  2. Active and inquiry-based learning
    1. Observe expert teachers
    2. Be observed by other teachers
    3. Feedback and discussion
    4. Review student work
  3. Collaborative learning
    1. Collective participation
    2. Permanent access to expertise of colleagues
    3. Teachers setting their own goals of their PD
  4. Duration and sustainability
    1. Must be long in terms of span of time and actual hours for each session
  5. Coherence
    1. Goals and design
    2. Aligned with school, district, and state reform policies
    3. Theory of improvement
    4. Link PD to teacher’s experience
  6. School organizational conditions
    1. Too little time for teachers to spend on PD
    2. Support by school leaders

Features of Research Quality

  • Effect variables
    • Teacher cognition
    • Teacher behavior
    • Student learning outcomes
  • Outcome measure
    • Incongruence between the goals of the program and the outcome measures
  • Scope of studies
    • Few studies are generalizable – most are Type 1 – 1 PD program in 1 setting. Very few are Type 3 where several PD programs are measured in several settings

Organizing Frame

  • IMTPG model
    • professional learning is idiosyncratic and non-linear in nature
    • Domains
      • Personal domain
      • Domain of practice
      • Domain of consequence
      • External domain

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Guskey, T. R., & Yoon, K. S. (2009). What works in professional development. Phi delta kappan,90(7), 495-500.

“A research synthesis confirms the difficulty of translating professional development into student achievement gains despite the intuitive and logical connection.”, p.495

“One of the most discouraging findings in the project was the discovery that only nine of the original list of 1,343 studies met the standards of credible evidence set by the What Works Clearinghouse, the arm of the U.S. Department of Education that is charged with providing educators, policy makers, researchers, and the public with scientific evidence about “what works” in education.”, p.496


  • shunned by the community but effective according to research
  • have to be well conducted
  • “These workshops focused on the implementation of research-based instructional practices, involved active-learning experiences for participants, and provided teachers with opportunities to adapt the practices to their unique classroom situations.”, p.496

Outside Experts

  • Belief is that regular in-school meetings are the way to go but are only a starting point and usually insufficient
  • Outside experts though are shown to be needed in research
  • “None of the successful efforts used a train-the-trainer approach, peer coaching, collaborative problem solving, or other forms of school-based professional learning.”, p.496


  • 30 or more contact hours to be effective
  • “Mary Kennedy (1998) showed, in fact, that differences in the time spent in professional development activities were unrelated to improvements in student outcomes. Why? Presumably because doing ineffective things longer does not make them any better.”, p.497


  • Must occur – all studies that performed well included structured and sustained follow-up
  • “Virtually all of the studies that showed positive improvements in student learning included significant amounts of structured and sustained follow-up after the main professional development activities.”, p.497


  • No silver bullet or rules of thumb – PD must be content and context specific
  • “This corroborates the position taken by the National Staff Development Council (2001), which argues that the most effective professional development comes not from the implementation of a particular set of “best practices,” but from the careful adaptation of varied practices to specific content, process, and context elements.”, p.497


  • PD must be tailored to how to teach a specific content and how it is learned
  • “In other words, the professional development efforts in every one of these investigations centered directly on enhancing teachers’ content knowledge and their pedagogic content knowledge (Shulman 1986). The activities were designed to help teachers better understand both what they teach and how students acquire specific content knowledge and skill.”, p.497


  • Must set goals and be understand how they will be measured – backwards design, set learning objectives
  • Educators must question magical solutions and cited ‘research’ by PD providers
  • Start small to be able to control and measure the effectiveness of a PD program

Thompson, C. L., & Zeuli, J. S. (1999). The frame and the tapestry: Standards-based reform and professional development. Teaching as the learning profession: Handbook of policy and practice, 341-375.

  • Systemic reform of PD is a huge challenge.
  • Must address core content and pedagogy of PD – must teach PCK
  • Ms. Oublier
    • “The essential point – the inner intent – that seems so seldom grasped even by teachers eager to embrace the current reforms is that in order to learn the sorts of things envisioned by reformers, students must think.”, p.346
  • Think
    • “Students do not get knowledge from teachers, or books, or experience with hands-on materials. They make it by thinking, using information and experience. No thinking, no learning – at least, no conceptual learning of the kind reformers envision.”, p.346
  • Psychological Constructivism – Schema
    • “Learning is the product of encounters between schematic representations of object and processes derived from prior experience and new experiences that cannot be clearly processed in terms of or assimilated into those schemas.”, p.347
    • “‘Problem solving’ may involve tinker with the equipment to make it work in the new situation, devising an extension here or an extra connection there, reconstructing whole components, or even abandoning the existing model in favor of one that handles the situation more adequately.”, p.347
  • Sociocultural Constructivism – communities of practice
  • Teachers must understand that they must encourage students to think
    • “The key questions for reform, then, are whether teachers understand that students must think in order to learn and whether they know how to provoke, stimulate, and support students’ thinking.”, p.349
  • Teachers still have the mind set of “teaching as telling and learning as remembering”, p.349
  • Like Ms. Oublier, teachers grab techniques here and there and adapt them conservatively to their own way of unchanged teaching and view of learning.
  • Think to Learn
    • “But thinking to learn is different from learning to think, and it is thinking to learn we see as central to reformed practice in science and mathematics”, p.350
  • Not enough
    • Texts talking about reform will not be read or absorbed by teachers
      • “Further, much of what we know about learning for conceptual change shows that written documents (“texts”) alone are inadequate to bring about a revolution in most learners’ believes and knowledge. Why should teachers be different from other learners on this count?”, p.351
    • Curricular Materials – easily adapted to traditional styles of teaching
    • Assessment and Accountability Systems
      • Not very effective – teachers still teach the way they do
    • Professional Development
      • Not much evidence of their effectiveness and they are usually:
        • fragmented or scattered
        • brief rather than sustained
        • not aligned with standards
      • New formats
        • Teacher inquiry groups
        • Action research networks
        • Mutual classroom observation and feedback by teachers
        • Journal writing and exchange
        • Job- or task-embedded opportunities to lean through curriculum development or revision
        • Design and use of new assessment instruments and approaches
      • BUT must focus on content and pedagogy
        • “Guberman (1995) has noted how easily collegially oriented  efforts can create a ‘discussion culture’ unhinged from actual changes in classroom practice. ‘Inquiry groups’ in name can turn out to be emotional support groups in practice, valuable to the morale and mental health of participants but unlikely to effect real changes in their beliefs or knowledge.”, p.353
  • Transformative Professional Development
    • Disrupt teacher’s beliefs about learning and teaching
    • Provide time, context and support
    • Must be connected to teacher’s reality / context
    • Opportunities to perform in a different way
    • Continuous help cycle
  • Policy must come along with this change

Teacher PD – Week 1 – Reading Notes

Readings & Citations

Borko, H., 2004. “Professional Development and Teacher Learning: Mapping the Terrain”

How to conduct research on professional development programs.

Research in 3 phases:

  1. Existence Proofs of Effective Professional Development
  2. Well-Specified Professional Development Programs
  3. Multiple Effective Professional Development Programs


“As one example, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 requires that states ensure the availability of “high-quality” professional development for all teachers. NCLB does not, however, address questions such as what constitutes high-quality professional development or how professional development should be made available to teachers. Similarly, “Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action,” the report released recently by The Teaching Commission (2004), reminds us that teaching is “our nation’s most valuable profession” (p. 12), arguing forcefully that “helping our teachers to succeed and enabling our children to learn is an investment in human potential, one that is essential to guaranteeing America’s future freedom and prosperity” (p. 11).”, p.3

“For example, we have evidence that professional de- velopment can lead to improvements in instructional practices and student learning. We are only beginning to learn, however, about exactly what and how teachers learn from professional de- velopment, or about the impact of teacher change on student outcomes (Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, & Birman, 2002; Fishman, Marx, Best, & Tal, 2003; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001). We have a full research agenda ahead of us to gather the information necessary to guide professional development policy and practice.”, p.3

“Individual Focus: Teacher Knowledge and Practices Can Change Through Intensive Professional Development Programs”, p. 5

“To foster students’ conceptual understanding, teachers must have rich and flexible knowledge of the subjects they teach.”, p.5

“Experiences that engage teachers as learners in activities such as solving mathematical problems and conducting scientific experiments are particularly effective.”, p.5

“To guide student thinking, teachers must also understand how children’s ideas about a subject develop, and the connections between their ideas and important ideas in the discipline (Schifter & Fosnot, 1993).”, p.6

“Research using the individual teacher as the unit of analysis also indicates that meaningful learning is a slow and uncertain process for teachers, just as it is for students.”, p.6

“The QUASAR project staff who studied these programs concluded that professional learning communities were central to fostering teacher change and student learning.”, p.6

“They argued that we cannot expect teachers to create a community of learners among students if they do not have a parallel community to nourish their own growth.”, p.7

“Norms that promote supportive yet challenging conversations about teaching are one of some most important features of successful learning communities.”, p.7

“Phase 1 research that explores how teachers learn through participation in professional development communities reveals that records of classroom practice are powerful tools for facilitating teacher change.”, p.7

“They came to see their class- rooms as places for their own learning as well as students’ learning.”, p.7

“Our analyses indicate that questions that pushed the teachers to share their mathematical thinking—such as “Prove it” and “Would you care to elaborate on that?”—were much more common in January than in profes- sional development sessions earlier in the school year.”, p.8

“These studies suggest that the facilitator is crucial to the success of the professional development program.”, p.10

“To maintain integrity, a program must effectively communicate the intended goals and uses of resources to prospective facilitators and provide support materials that will enable them to use the resources in the intended ways.”, p.10

“In a professional development system, the “students” are teachers, the “teachers” are facilitators, and the “curriculum” is the professional development program.”, p.13


Desimone, L., 2009 “Improving Impact Studies of Teachers’ Professional Development: Toward Better Conceptualizations and Measures”

  1. What counts as professional development?
  2. What purposes could a core conceptual framework serve, and what such framework is supported by the research?
  3. What are the implications for modes of inquiry in causal studies of teacher learning?

“Furthermore, some of the most powerful teacher learning experiences can occur in a teacher’s own classroom, through self or observer examination of the teacher’s practice (Putnam & Borko, 2000).”, p.182

“Recent research reflects a consensus about at least some of the characteristics of professional development that are critical to increasing teacher knowledge and skills and improving their practice, and which hold promise for increasing student achievement (Hawley & Valli, 1999; Kennedy, 1998; Wilson & Berne, 1999): (a) content focus, (b) active learning, (c) coherence, (d) duration, and (e) collective participation.”, p.183

“A well-constructed and administered interview, observation, or survey protocol, when used appropriately, can provide similarly useful data, just as a poorly constructed or administered interview, observation, or survey protocol can provide skewed and biased information.”, p. 190

“‘It is never too late to become reasonable and wise; but if the knowledge comes late, there is always more difficulty in starting a reform.’ —Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics”, p.192

“Professional development is a key to reforms in teaching and learning, making it essential that we use best practice to measure its effects.”, p.192

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014 “Teachers Know Best – Teachers’ Views on Professional Development”

The differences between what teachers want vs what the district, policy makers, researchers, and PD creators have.

  • Current state professional development participation, needs, and satisfaction
  • Professional development decision-making and system-level barriers and enablers
  • Professional development market size and supplier landscape (key providers, products, and services offered) • Professional development needs in the future and emerging offerings
  • Areas and causes of supply and demand mismatches

Wilson, S., 2013 “Professional Development for Science Teachers”

The state of PD in the US

“The U.S. PD system is a carnival of options.”, p.310

“Five general characteristics have been identified: (i) focusing on specific content, (ii) engaging teachers in active learning, and (iii) enabling the collective participation of teachers (sometimes administrators), as well as (iv) coherence (aligned with other school policy and practice) and (v) sufficient duration (both in intensity and contact hours) (3–6).”, p.310

“However, neither PD intervention resulted in significantly higher student test scores, and there was no additional benefit of the PD enhanced by the coaching.”, p.311

“Researchers found that each PD course significantly increased teacher and student science test scores, and the effects held one year later. However, only PD that involved teachers examining student thinking and considering the implications for instruction was associated with increases in both teacher and student science knowledge.”, p.311

“Teachers who participated in the content-only SI demonstrated initial gains in CK immediately after the summer but were unable to maintain those gains through the school year.”, p.311

“Currently available measures of student learning focus largely on the mastery of scientific facts but do not assess students’ conceptual understanding or their abilities to engage in scientific practices, which are the foci of much PD.”, p.311

“Although researchers have identified several features of effective PD, rigorous research has yet to produce conclusive support for those characteristics. Problems include a lack of sound measures and a strong theoretical understanding of the mechanisms of teacher learning.”, p.311

“Schools with strength in three to five of these supports were 10 times more likely to demonstrate significant learning gains (as measured in mathematics and reading).”, p.312

“It is nearly impossible to isolate the effects of PD on student learning.”, p.312

“Online PD has the potential for providing “just-in-time assistance” and is potentially more scalable than PD that presses on limited local resources.”, p.312