Source: Professional Development in Education, 46:5, 812-832
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The study reported here explores practices and operational structures of a large-scale teacher induction program to determine how coaching and induction activities have reliable impacts on novice teacher attitudes and practices.
The following research questions guide the study:
(1) What impact does coaching have on induction program operations supporting novice teacher professional learning and pedagogical development?
(2) What impact do induction program structures have on novice teacher professional learning and pedagogical development?
(3) How do novice teachers and their coaches interpret and evaluate their induction program experiences?
A 2014–2015 Candidate-Coach Match Satisfaction Follow-up Survey was completed by Candidates and Coaches through an online learning management system.
This annual survey identifies both the Candidate and Coach satisfaction and experiences throughout induction and is administered as part of their required online coursework.
A total of 2,156 of the 2,184 enrolled Candidates responded to the survey for a 99 percent response rate.
Of the 1,138 Coaches working with these Candidates, 938 responded to the survey for a response rate of 84 percent.
Questions inquire about the Candidates and Coaches’ experiences with their specific Coach/Candidate match, the frequency/ duration of their meetings, and satisfaction with the Center for Innovative Teachers (CIT) curriculum.
The survey used for this study collected both quantitative and qualitative data.
As a result, the authors take a mixed method approach to analyzing the data to appropriately answer their research questions (Tashikkori & Teddlie, 2010).
They believe that this approach allows them to gain a broad understanding of the program by exploring the relationship between induction structures while also incorporating respondent voices to hear about individual experiences.
Qualitative data were collected by providing survey respondents with nine opportunities to offer clarifying comments on various aspects of their induction program experiences.
Candidates and Coaches commented in clear and substantial ways regarding the operation and impact of the CIT program.
Their survey comments illuminate and confirm the quantitative analyses as well as provide a rich illustration of how Candidates experience induction.
Findings and discussion
The impact of quality coaching on novice teacher professional growth
Coaching appeared to have a large impact on Candidates’ induction experience.
As shown throughout the SEM models, latent variables of Coach Activity and Coach Influence were consistently positive and significant factors through the mediating induction structures on outcomes of Inquiry Success and Impact on Teaching.
This suggests that coaches can play a large role on how induction can impact novice teachers’ learning and inevitably, their teaching in the classroom.
This was complemented by respondents’ comments, as Candidates’ induction experience (and eventual impact) was often based on who they were paired with as a Coach.
Coaches who met frequently and focused on pedagogical development created opportunities throughout CIT for Candidate development.
However, participants thought that time was wasted when coaching interactions got bogged down by logistical, technological, or administrative issues.
With only a limited amount of time to meet together, respondents shared about the need to prioritize observations, feedback, and the work of coaching as opposed to completing program requirements that did not reflect authentic pedagogy.
This finding reiterates previous research indicating the importance of coaching as a form of induction for novice teacher development (e.g. Knight and Cornett 2017).
This study extends previous knowledge by suggesting that teacher coaching in a large-scale induction program can have positive impacts.
Even though outcomes were self-reported survey measures, this finding provides some evidence against lowered effects from large-scale induction programs (Kraft et al. 2018).
Another aspect that impacted the work of coaching was the match between the Candidate and Coach.
SEM models indicated the statistical significance of match, more for the Candidate than the Coach, and qualitative analyses indicated that school site, grade level/subject area, and approaches to teaching were important in maximizing the coaching relationship.
Participants felt that if these areas aligned, there were often less logistical challenges and a greater potential of professional growth.
This finding provides some evidence about the importance of matching these areas for effective coaching, contrary to Glazerman and associates’ (2010) findings.
This finding also adds to the scholarship by stating that there are areas to match a novice teacher and coach aside from grade level or school site.
Exploring teachers’ philosophy of teaching or how they view student diversity could be important factors to consider when matching individuals.
It may be equally if not more important that novice teachers hear from someone who sees the classroom in a similar perspective.
Programmatic structures that impact induction experiences
This study also indicates the importance of three structures of induction that mediated the Candidates’ experience.
Each of these structures was positive and significant throughout the SEM analyses and important themes throughout qualitative analyses.
First, the induction curriculum should be carefully examined to promote novice teacher pedagogical development.
Candidates and Coaches alike described how their work on inquiry cycles often did not help Candidates meaningfully think about their pedagogy.
Rather, participants described how inquiry cycles felt like busywork that was done merely to meet a programmatic requirement.
This curriculum did not build on what they learned throughout their preliminary credential, relate to district professional development, and/or was impractical to their work in the classroom.
This finding provides some initial evidence about the importance of curriculum within induction programs and ensuring that it has practical and authentic value for novice teachers.
Second, technological induction tools can frustrate and hinder novice teachers’ professional growth.
Both Candidates and Coaches struggled to use and navigate the learning management system as a result of various functional and aesthetic issues.
This led to frustration and wasted time trying to learn about the system as opposed to spending that time focusing on pedagogical development.
This finding provides evidence for the importance of technology in teacher education, particularly regarding the need for it to be purposeful and user-friendly (Ehsanipour & Gomez Zaccarelli, 2017).
Third, customer service, which induction programs may not consider to be part of their job description, impacted novice teachers and coaches’ induction experience.
When difficulties arise, particularly regarding technology, some Candidate and Coaches did not always feel the program was responsive to their needs.
Unhelpful responses or non-responsiveness marred participants’ experiences and prevented them from wanting to further interact with CIT.
An implication for induction programs includes considering systematic protocols to ensure all participants that want to be heard are, and when they are heard, they are responded to in a thoughtful and positive manner.
Ehsanipour, T. and Zaccarelli, F.G. (2017). Exploring coaching for powerful technology use in education. Center to Support Excellence in Teaching – Stanford University. Digital Promise. Accessed 1 September 2017: http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Pr...
Glazerman, S., et al., 2010. Impacts of comprehensive teacher induction: final results from a randomized controlled study (NCEE 2010-4027). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
Knight, J. and Cornett, J. (2017). Studying the impact of instructional coaching. University of Kansas Center of Research on Teaching. Working Paper.
Kraft, M.A., Blazar, D., and Hogan, D., 2018. The effect of teaching coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of educational research, 88 (4), 547–588.
Tashakkori, A. and Teddlie, C. eds., 2010. Sage handbook of mixed methods in social & behavioral research. Sage.