Participant-Directed Evaluation: Using Teachers’ Own Inquiries to Evaluate Professional Development in Technology Integration

Fall, 2010

Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, v27 n1, p.22-29. (Fall 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Considering the high levels of time and money invested in teacher professional development (PD) programmes in information technologies over recent decades, questions arise as to how effective these programmes have been and by whose lights we are to judge.

In this article, the author discusses the evaluation design models presented in two recent meta-analyses of evaluations of the effectiveness of teacher professional development programmes (Timperley et al., 2007; Lawless & Pellegrino, 2008). The author considers of what, conceptually, such evaluations might productively look like in the particular context of professional development in technology integration.

The Professional Development Projects and Evaluations

The author describes three PD programmes in New Zealand that formed the basis of the reflective review of evaluation in technology PD all had a technology focus, and all included an action research component in some form or another.

The first of these programmes was a large-scale national programme of professional development for teachers on integrating new technologies known as the Information and Communication Technologies Professional Development (ICTPD) programme. In this program, groups of three to five schools have been clustered together to provide 3-year programmes for their teachers in the use of technology across the curriculum.

The second PD program was a much more small-scale project that took place more than 2–3 years in one educational institution (the New Zealand Correspondence School). In this programme, a group of 15 teachers in the “e-section” of the school trialed new, online, technology-based distance education methods for teaching their classes of isolated students dispersed around the country, using action research as their form of PD (Ham, Wenmoth& Davey, 2008).

The third programme was a form of collaborative sabbatical known in New Zealand as the E-Learning Fellowships. Under the fellowship scheme, up to 10 innovative teachers with a reputation for effective use of new technologies in their classes conducted year-long research studies of their work with their own students.

The author concludes that by placing participant teachers at their centre, models of PD based on action research have inherent potential to closely link both teacher effects and student outcomes directly back to aspects of the PD experience to provide a rich evidence base about those effects and outcomes from the participants’ perspective, and to allow the PD to be formative, responsive, and iterative in its progressions over time.

Ham, V., Wenmoth, D., & Davey, R. (2008). Teachers doing IT for themselves: Action research as professional development. In Borthwick and Pierson (Eds.), Transforming classroom practice: Professional development strategies in educational technology. Eugene, Oregon: ISTE.

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.

Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher professional learning and development: Best evidence synthesis iteration (BES). Wellington: Ministry of Education.

Updated: Jan. 02, 2011