Quest for Effective Professional Development

Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M., & Beavis, A. (2005). Factors affecting the impact of professional development programs on teachers’ knowledge, practice, student outcomes & efficacy. Education Policy Analysis Archives. Retrieved May 28, 2014 from

Knight, J., & Learning Forward (2011). Unmistakable impact: A partnership approach for dramatically improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.

The journal article, Factors Affecting the Impact of Professional Development Programs on Teachers’ Knowledge, Practice, Student Outcomes & Efficacy by Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M. & Beavis, A (2005) explores the influence of structural and process features of professional development on teachers’ knowledge, practice, and efficacy. The process structures that are explored in this article include content focus, active learning, examination of student work, feedback and follow-up. The data that was collected during this study was from 3,250 teachers in over eighty professional development programs through the use of a self-reporting survey. There was a wide variety of professional development programs that were analyzed. The professional development programs included job-embedded professional development through action research, coaching and mentoring, institutional learning to facilitate understanding of research findings and best practice, online learning, participation of formal award programs and conferences and seminars. (Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M. & Beavis, 2005 p.3) The length of the professional development programs in the study varied from single session workshops to professional development that extended over multiple sessions.

Some of the major findings in this article were “The relationship between content focus and impact on knowledge is strong. The relationship between follow-up and reported impact on knowledge is also significant.” (Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M. & Beavis, 2005 p.14) The authors also suggest that the level of school support has indirect effects on the extent to which program outcomes are achieved. I agree that follow-up has a significant impact on the effectiveness of the new learning that is applied in classrooms after a professional development. I have the opportunity to work with many schools where follow-up is an integral component of their professional development. The schools that see effective transfer of new learning into classrooms consistently relate it back to the frequency and quality of the follow-up to the new learning. The schools that struggle with transfer of new learning from professional development settings have not found a consistent and intentional way to follow-up with all teachers to ensure the new learning is transferred into classrooms.   One of the most significant findings from this article related to follow-up and feedback was “how rarely professional development program designers built in opportunities for feedback and coaching in the workplace despite the research on their centrality to learning new and complex skills.” (Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M. & Beavis, 2005, p.14) This quote inspired me to look back at Jim Knight’s work Unmistakable Impact on coaching and follow-up support where he reminds us “Without coaches to provide precise instructions, to model in the classroom, to provide positive and motivating honest feedback, few new practices get implemented and those that get implemented are usually implemented poorly. (Cornett & Knight, 2009, p. 12)


The organization of the article was clear and in an easy to read format. The authors included helpful headings and subheadings that directed the readers’ attention to the important elements throughout the reading. The article was logically sequenced and segmented. The authors defined the process structures of content focus, active learning, examination of student work, feedback and follow-up. This supported the reader in having a common vocabulary for the processes they were referring to throughout the text.

Another strength is the contribution this study made to the field of professional development. I believe this is an important area of inquiry because teachers invest a lot of time in professional development. School districts invest financial and human resources and the question is does professional development make a positive impact on teacher effectiveness and student learning? This study highlights the processes that need to be in place for an effective professional development and what influence those processes have on teachers’ knowledge, practice and efficacy.


One way to improve this study is through data collection. This study used only one data collection method and that was a self-reporting survey by teachers collected at least three months after the professional development program. I believe they could have increased the consistency of their findings by using multiple methods to collect their data. In the article they discuss the importance of follow-up and student work to professional development. Another source of data could have been following teachers after the professional development and scripting the new learning to have observational data on the impact of the professional development on teacher instruction and student achievement. An additional source of data would be to collect and analyze the student work from the new learning to determine the impact of the professional development provided. In my opinion, the self-reporting survey completed by the teachers regarding the impact of the professional development may be bias. In addition, the survey responses by the teachers are dependent on how reflective the teacher is on how the professional development processes impacted their teaching and the student learning. I feel the data they chose to collect in this study impacted the quality of the findings.


I have the opportunity to provide professional development to schools on a regular basis. I have seen the effective transfer of new learning when I provide intentional follow-up and feedback to teachers. This article affirms my area of inquiry to further explore how intentional differentiated follow-up impacts the transfer of new learning. I also learned through this article that I want to make sure I have multiple methods to collect data so I have both quantitative and qualitative data to support my work.



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