Framing the Assessment of Educational Technology Professional Development in a Culture of Learning

Summer, 2010

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, v. 26 n. 4, p126-131. Summer, 2010.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Effective and meaningful assessment of educational technology professional development (ETPD) requires that we design inservice learning activities that can be measured using methods that are consistent with what we know about teaching and learning; recognize teacher and student change as it relates to the larger teaching and learning context; and view evaluation as an inseparable component of ongoing teacher action.

The authors therefore offer for consideration an ETPD assessment model that merges three theoretical constructs currently enjoying much note and utility, through which professional development consumers might interpret research findings:
(a) technological pedagogical content knowledge) TPACK);
(b) organizational learning; and
(c) participant research and inquiry.

Evaluating PD According to TPACK: The What
The authors claim that professional development comes in all sizes and flavors, and to make an accurate assessment of the quality and impact of an activity, professional developers must consider the variety of ways teachers learn and the variety of variables that could affect teacher learning. Layering any examination of ETPD findings with the TPACK model (Mishra & Koehler, 2006 ; Pierson, 2001) provides a helpful lens through which to view the process in light of current pedagogical thinking for 21st-century learners and teachers.

Evaluating Professional Development within the Context of Organizational Learning: The Where
The authors argue that context matters, for both ETPD implementation and assessment.
To assess the effectiveness of professional development in leading teachers to longlasting gains in knowledge, attitudes, and instructional behaviors, we must examine supporting factors within the teaching and learning context.
A systems view suggests a focus not only on individual teacher and student growth, but also on changes in organization policies and procedures, infrastructure, curriculum and instruction, expectations for stakeholders, and organizational climate (Newman, 2008). Teacher growth and change will not be sustained without organizational support and, in fact, may be sabotaged (Borthwick & Risberg, 2008).

Evaluating Professional Development through Practitioner Research: The How

Change in pedagogical practice is the ultimate goal of professional development. However, few studies use data on teacher use to inform their practice (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007).

The authors claim that the role of teachers as participant researchers is critical to the diagnosis of learning outcomes, identification of subsequent instructional strategies, and input to policy development (Borthwick,,( 2008–2007 Participant research as a 21st-century professional development assessment model allows teachers as professionals to look at their practice in new ways (Linn, 2006), and respects teacher knowledge and experience.
This metacognitive approach to the evaluation of professional development enables teachers’ lifelong learning, thus extending the reach of every formal professional development effort.

A Model for Effective, Rigorous, and Systematic Evaluation of Educational Technology Professional Development

The authors propose extending the TPACK model, defining effective technology-enhanced teaching, to guide the assessment of ETPD when supported by the surrounding “frame” of context and participant research. In this model, individual and organizational learning occur over and over again as educators and their research partners engage in the action research process in light of the organizational context, thus positioning assessment of ETPD as a culture of learning.
Borthwick, A. (2007–2008). Action research as alternative assessment. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 24, 39, 64.

Lawless, K. A., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2007). Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: Knowns, unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers. Review of Educational Research, 77(4), 575–614.

Linn, M. C. (2006). WISE teachers: Using technology and inquiry for science instruction. In E.A. Ashburn & R.E. Floden (Eds.), Meaningful learning using technology: What educators need to know and do (pp. 45–69). New York: Teachers College Press.

Mishra, P., & Koeher, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054.

Pierson, M. E. (2001). Technology integration practice as a function of pedagogical expertise. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(4), 413–429.

Updated: Jan. 02, 2011