Instructional Technology Professional Development Evaluation: Developing a High Quality Model

Article excerpt

Abstract

Background: The literature contains very few studies that focused on evaluating the impact of professional development activities on student learning. And, many of these studies failed to determine whether the professional development activities met their primary goal-to improve the learning process. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to use the current literature to determine the characteristics of evaluation activities used to assess professional development that focus on the integration of instructional technology into teaching practices. The primary goal was to propose a high-quality model to evaluate the impact of educators' professional development on student learning. Method: A content analysis was done to gather data. The study focused on 20 purposefully selected, published studies, involving more than 10 participants each, and completed between 1998 and 2008. Results: The study found that about 65% of researchers used questionnaires or interviews to measure the impact of professional development activities, about 20% used pre/post tests and 15% used case studies. Other methods included journaling, videotaping and focus groups. The evaluations focused mainly on measuring the impact of the training on teachers' perceptions of their competence, their integration of the new skills into their curricula or their self-efficacy. None of the studies focused on measuring student learning after teachers' professional development. Conclusions: Most of the professional development evaluations failed to go beyond the assessment of the participants' perceptions, focusing on tangential elements such as logistics and satisfaction with the training. Recommendations: The study recommends that the evaluation of professional development activities focus on student learning instead of participants' satisfaction or self-efficacy. It proposes a five-step model to help ensure that this is done. Implications: Business educators are encouraged to use the proposed when planning and assessing professional development activities related to the integration of instructional technology into teaching practices. The model offers the opportunity to more effectively evaluate information technology professional development initiatives.

Introduction

In addition to the difficult task of finding teaching methods that support learning effectiveness (Bok, 2005; Kendall, 2006), the American educational system is facing other significant challenges, including the accountability for educational outcomes, which is receiving increased attention (American Council on Education, 2006). In response to the challenge of higher accountability for educational outcomes, Federal, state, and local educational stakeholders continue to invest large amounts of resources in the professional development of teachers. This is an attempt to develop educators who are empowered to (a) integrate instructional technology into teaching practices effectively, (b) use sound methodologies to deliver high quality content area instruction to achieve pupil outcomes, (c) keep up with changes in pupil achievement standards, and (d) adapt instruction to effectively address the learning needs of an increasingly diverse student population (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007).

For instance, The U.S. Department of Education allocated nearly 700 million dollars in the year 2004 to "facilitate the comprehensive and integrated use of educational technology into instruction and curricula to improve teaching and student achievement" (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007, p. 577). Embedded into this goal is the intent to "provide professional development opportunities for teachers, principals, and school administrators to develop capacity to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning" (Lawless & Pellegrino, 2007, p. 577).

However, schools continue to struggle to maintain standards for high quality teaching while constantly engaging in the recruitment of new highly qualified teachers and the retention of these new hires as well as their veteran teachers (Guarino, Santibañez, & Daley, 2006). …