4c – Summary & Evidence

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4c. Evaluate results of professional learning programs to determine the effectiveness on deepening teacher content knowledge, improving teacher pedagogical skills and/or increasing student learning.

One of the most important, but sometimes overlooked, steps of a good learning design cycle is evaluation. We often do evaluation of individual training sessions in order to improve our content or delivery but we don’t often have a way to measure effectiveness back in the classroom. Is it enough for us to be happy that more teachers are using our Learning Management System or the productivity tools we offer or should we be paying more attention to the quality of the experiences teachers are providing for their students? It goes back to the idea of the new Digital Use Divide (US Dept of Education, 2017) in which there is a gap in the quality of the use of technology from very substitution level to transformative. Some technology integration models such as SAMR, or the Triple E Framework can help us evaluate lessons and websites for their short term value and impact on students. I took a closer look a those models in my post on Evaluating Tech Integration.

If we truly want to look at our professional development systems as a whole it is worth doing periodic evaluations of our entire programs. Guskey (2003) offers four important reasons why we should evaluate professional development:

  1. Educators have gained better understanding of the dynamic nature of professional development.
  2. Professional development today is increasingly recognized as an intentional process.
  3. The need for better information to guide reforms in professional development.
  4. Increased pressure at all levels of education for greater accountability. (p.7)

As part of my work in the Digital Education Leadership program I conducted an evaluation of my program. Here are links to the Program Evaluation I did for my district as well as the Executive Summary. It was a very good exercise and made me look much more closely at our data as well as take the time to think more carefully about the idea of being more systematic about an overall plan for professional development and device deployment.

In the end, we need to keep in mind that technology is still changing so quickly that we are always in an adoption cycle and, for now, their will always be people who will take longer to willingly take on new change (Not all Learners Want to Learn What You Have to Teach). That doesn’t mean they won’t get there but coaches and administrators will still need to plan for and offer training and support in a variety of different ways to address all our staff’s learning needs.

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References

 

Guskey, T. (2003). Evaluating professional development (p. 7). Thousand Oaks [u.a.]: Corwin Press.

 

U.S. Department of Education. (2017). Reimagining the Role of Technology In Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update (p. 3). Washington D.C: Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov

Zepeda, S. (2012). Professional development: What Works (1st ed., p. 32). New York: Taylor & Frances.

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