Which Characteristics of a Reciprocal Peer Coaching Context Affect Teacher Learning as Perceived by Teachers and Their Students?

Jun. 02, 2009

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 60 Number 3, p. 243-257 (May/June 2009 ).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The main purpose of this article was to explore which characteristics of a reciprocal peer coaching program stimulated or inhibited the professional learning of 28 experienced


Data were gathered on 28 high school teachers (14 coaching dyads) from four schools located in a middle-sized city in the eastern part of the Netherlands. All teachers taught in the upper grades (Grades 9-12; students’ age ranged from 16 to 18) of the two highest tracks in secondary education (higher general secondary education and preuniversity education).
The coaching dyads were formed on the basis of a variation in subject taught (language and arts: 12; science: 6; social studies: 10), years of teaching experience, gender (male: 18; female: 10) and age of the teachers.

Design of the Study

A mixed-method approach was adopted combining quantitative and qualitative data.
Both self-reports and student perceptions were used to measure teacher learning.
The authors used teacher self-reports of learning, student perceptions of teacher behavior, and the characteristics of the peer coaching trajectory as quantitative measures and
the digital diaries written by the teachers as qualitative measures.
To study the associations between five categories of characteristics of a peer coaching context (independent variable) and teacher learning (dependent variable), questionnaire results (quantitative data) and digital diaries (qualitative data) were examined.

Conclusions and Discussion

A main outcome of the current study is that within a context of reciprocal peer coaching, teachers learn when they are intrinsically motivated to take part in professional development programs; when they feel a certain pressure toward experimenting with new instructional
methods; and when they are able to discuss their experiences within a safe, constructive, and trustworthy environment.
In addition, three specifications of the role of observation and experimentation were found:
(a) the knowledge that a colleague will come to observe you in your classroom (some day, some hour), (b) the opportunity to model new teaching strategies for the coaching partner, and (c) the necessity to observe your coaching partner in his or her classroom.
The results thus indicate that the actual experiments and observations in the teachers’ classrooms are powerful elements of reciprocal peer coaching.

In conclusion, the mixed method applied in this study appeared to be promising
for better understanding of teacher learning within the context of a reciprocal peer coaching endeavor.


Updated: Sep. 21, 2009