The effect of the ‘teacher-led PD for teachers ’professional development program on students’ achievement: an experimental study

November, 2019

Source: Teacher Development, 23:5, 588-608

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The professional development (PD) design of this study, developed by the researchers, is called ‘teacher-led PD for teachers’ (TLPDFT), which focuses on teachers teaching each other, where teachers become subject matter experts (Jackson and Bruegmann 2009).
In TLPDFT, teachers go beyond discussing strategies, techniques, or methods of teaching, instead they narrate, discuss, and teach the topic to each other.
In the TLPDFT format, there is an experienced coach or leader who facilitates (Arya, Christ, and Chiu 2013) all activities that take place during the courses or workshops.
The effect of TLPDFT on teachers’ skills and knowledge can be attributed to peer coaching.
When the format offered in this study is applied, teachers teach each other, discuss the content, get ready for teaching, gain confidence, and learn new strategies to go beyond their regular class practices.
Once they enter their classes after the PD, they carry the acquired practices and knowledge to their classes and do similar activities and discussions with their students.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of the TLPDFT program to improve student achievement.
In doing so, this study will provide the physics education community with specific data regarding the link between the TLPDFT program and student achievement in a tenth-grade Modern Physics Unit (MPU).
The following research question guided this research:
What is the effect of the TLPDFT professional development program on achievements of tenth-grade students in the Modern Physics Unit?

Research design - The design of this experimental PD research is influenced by the studies of Nadelson et al. (2013) and Santagata et al. (2010).
In this design, teachers initially teach one or two units to one of their classes (control group), then teach the same unit/units to their other equivalent class (experimental group) after the PD that they receive.

Sample - In total, six physics teachers and their 306 students participated in the study.
The ages of students ranged from 15 to 17 years and they were all in tenth grade. All schools were from Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

Modern Physics Unit Achievement Test - The Modern Physics Unit Achievement Test (MPUAT) was used to assess student achievement.

Findings and discussion
The results suggest a number of ways to improve teacher professional development.
First, they provide practical approval of the effect of the TLPDFT program, which includes many properties of effective PD programs.
For example, the results indicate that just-in time teaching was successfully carried out within the structure of the TLPDFT program.
The results also show that PD that focuses on subject matter knowledge gives teachers opportunities for active learning, and is more likely to result in improved knowledge and expertise of teachers along with students’ success in science.
Moreover, the results indicate that, when coached appropriately, teachers of the same subject can make an effective professional community.
For example, the increase in students’ knowledge in modern physics topics can be attributed to teachers’ discussions during the TLPDFT program.
Moreover, while much of the literature on PD focuses on the procedure and delivery method, the authors’ results lay new emphasis on the importance of subject matter knowledge focus in designing effective PD programs.
Finally, along with a number of recent studies (Heller et al. 2012; Jimoyiannis 2010; Qablan 2016), the authors’ results approve the importance of PD that focuses on science content.
This study was successful in increasing students’ achievement through the PD program.
In a review of the research that connected PD with student achievement in mathematics and science, Kennedy (1998) found similar results in terms of effect size.
She concluded that PDs focused on content had a larger impact, with effect sizes of 0.40 and higher.
Supovitz and Turner (2000) also obtained similar results regarding the importance of teacher content preparation.
The present study applied 21 hours of PD and showed a statistically significant effect on student achievement.
While Yoon, Garet, et al. (2007) report 14 hours as the critical amount of PD that might lead to student achievement, Blank and de las Alas (2012) raise this amount to 100 hours.
It seems that further research is needed in the area of experimental PD to speak with greater certainty.
PD for science teachers is considered a key reform strategy for improving school effectiveness.
As nations invest considerable funds towards improving the quality of science teachers (and consequently the sustainability of a robust national economy), it is reasonable to explore effective PD designs.
This experimental study, which successfully employed a new PD program with an original design, increased students’ knowledge of modern physics at high school level.

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Updated: Aug. 17, 2020