Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quantifying Your Professional Development Results

A 2011 article in Education Week (http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/professional-development/) provides a crisp summary of the current status of professional development among our nation’s schools. According to the article, one-shot workshops have gradually given way to more sustained professional development ranging from onsite peer observations and classroom-based coaches to inquiry teams (alias professional learning communities) and lesson studies.  Regrettably, the one variable determining the success or failure of most professional development efforts, student results, has offered little empirical evidence.

Using the H.E.A.T. (Higher order thinking, Engaged learning,Authentic connections, Technology use) Framework provides an alternative schema for evaluating the merits of professional development interventions impacting the teaching and learning process.  Each of the dimensions of H.E.A.T. yields an empirically-validated set of “look-fors” in which to gauge changes in instructional practices and their subsequent impact on student learning. Creating an action research study, for example, to assess changes in the amount of H.E.A.T. in student learning using data collected throughout the school year can provide a practical way of quantifying the impact of any professional development opportunity on the level of teaching innovation in the classroom.

As a conceptual model, H.E.A.T. represents Student Output while LoTi (Levels of Teaching Innovation) represents Teacher Input.  The LoTi framework has been the subject of over 100 research studies and dissertations worldwide primarily investigating the impact of professional development on teaching innovation in the classroom.  Using one or both of these matrices to quantify your professional development results can lead to systematic and sustained changes affecting continuous improvement at all levels of the curriculum decision-making ladder.