Connecting Instructional Technology Professional Development to Teacher and Student Outcomes
Martin, W., Strother, S., Beglau, M., Bates, L., Reitzes, T., & Culp, K. M. (2010). Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student outcomes. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(1), 53-74.
This article is about a program evaluation study, and not an academic research study. The Educational Development Center, Inc was contracted by the University of Missouri to conduct an external evaluation of a professional development program called eMints.
The focus of the study is on eMints (enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies.) eMints is a professional development program that was created by the UM (University of Missouri) to help “help educators, administrators, and technology specialists understand how to integrate technology into an instructional approach that employs inquiry based learning, alternative assessment, collaboration, and community building among teachers and students.” (p. 55)
eMints was developed using professional development features such as
- a reform approach (being mentored or coached, participation in a teacher network, working in internships or immersion activities )
- being sponsored by a university (resources from UM)
- new technologies for teaching and learning (The program teaches how the technologies they are taught can support instruction.)
- student achievement (lesson plans developed by participants must adhere to state standards and align closely with ITSE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Students)
- active learning (Participants discuss technology implementation ideas, get hands-on practice of software and participate in peer reviews.)
- integration between the program and teacher’s knowledge and beliefs (Teachers volunteer and select a program that aligns with their beliefs. They also participate with at least one other teacher from their school.)
- sufficient duration (Depending on the program the participants have a 90 hour or 250 hour contact with an instructional specialists.)
- collective participation in the department of the participants (Participants are from the same school, grade, and department.)
The purpose of this research was to study the impact of the eMints professional development program on student outcomes. The majority of the PD sessions are designed to link technology and new pedagogy directly to classroom applications. To accomplish this, time is given to participants to create and prepare lesson plans for classroom use.
To collect teacher and student outcomes, lesson plans were evaluated and student samples were submitted. The study found that the amount of time participants spent with the instructional specialists was directly related to the quality of the lesson plans. Also the study found that lesson plan quality was associated with better student achievement. And even though some studies show no that technologies do not necessarily improve learning, this study showed that lesson plans including technology had the most improvement in student achievement.
Some of the limitations of the study was that there wasn’t enough funding to observe the participants in classroom instruction, small sample size, and amount of data collected. However “despite those limitations” the study provided “evidence instructional technology professional development an have a positive impact on teachers and students.” (p.71).
Basically to have an impact on students, professional development needs to have an impact on teachers. But to do that takes a considerable amount of time, coaching, and a connection to application and practice of the materials, all aligned with the teacher’s belief system.
Beyond the date of the requirements on this paper was an article dated in 2008. These teachers did not have this much help and support. But the bottom line is in both cases teachers who spent the effort trying to improve their classes did.