Professional Development, Article 3

Evaluation Across Contexts: Evaluating the Impact of Technology Integration Professional Development Partnerships

Smolin, L., & Lawless, K. A. (2011). Evaluation across contexts: Evaluating the impact of technology integration professional development partnerships. Journal of Digital Learning in Digital Education, 27(3), 92-98.

In this article, the authors explore the “possibilities for collaborative evaluation of technology integration professional development (TIPD) to transform technology practices in schools” (Smolin & Lawless, 2011, p 92). The article evaluates three specific models  of professional development—Developmental Evaluation, Responsive Evaluation, and Layered Research. The articles examines key issues associated with implementing the models and analyze how the models can , “strengthen and sustain professional development partnerships” (Smolin & Lawless, 2011, p 92).

The article briefly describes two current evaluation models. The first model is by Lawless and Pellegrino who propose a three phase evaluation model, evaluated in sequence: the 1) professional development program, 2) teacher outcomes, 3) teacher change and student achievement. The second model is from Desimone who’s model is similar to Lawless and Pellegrino except Desimone proposes a  model where the evaluations are repeated indefinitely.

The authors believe both of the above models are incomplete because they don’t take into consideration all the stakeholders involved and the relationships between the stakeholders. Smolin and Lawless feel that these models should include and foster long term partnerships between all of stakeholders. Stakeholders would include the group that funds the technology, the universities that teach the technology, and the teachers that ultimately teach the technology. If there isn’t a partnership between the stakeholders then the changes from any of the three stakeholders is short-term.

Teachers have difficulty sustaining the transformative practices they learn in professional development without ongoing support and mentorship. As such, their potential for affecting their students’ learning, as well as their mentorship of new teachers, is difficult to achieve. Higher education partners lose an important laboratory of innovation as well as placements for their students. When success cannot be sustained long-term, funders are hesitant to continue their support. As a result, teaching and learning may revert back to the status quo (p 93).

The partnership of the three stakeholders will facilitate questions such as how research should be gathered and who should evaluate the results, providing feedback that all the stakeholders can use. This will result in a shared vision and build long term relationships creating an impact on professional development.

The authors look at three models that are designed to approach professional development as a collaborative approach. The first model is the Developmental Evaluation. In this model goals and outcomes are not predetermined but are revealed through the learning process and the evaluator is part of the program design team. Stakeholders are co-designers in this model.

The second model is the Responsive Evaluation model and this model emphasizes collaboration. Recursive observations and interviews as well as document analysis are the focus of Responsive Evaluation. Stakeholders are co-designers of the professional development.

The third model is called Layered Research. Also a collaborative model, Layered Research focuses the relationship of the stakeholders on developing new knowledge. This is done by all the stakeholders being involved in the research.

All three models, Developmental Evaluation, Responsive Evaluation, and Layered Research shift the focus from traditional forms of professional development to an approach which calls for all the partners to include all stakeholders perspectives which fosters success. Because all partners work together, results are available during the course of the professional development rather than waiting for yearly testing.

As a test study the authors implemented a professional development program integrated with the group that funds the technology, the universities that teach the technology, and the teachers that ultimately teach the technology. Even though the authors learned that the teachers learned more and the lessons were improved, and although the PD was collaborative, the research itself wasn’t complete because they used “limited perspectives to guide the evaluation…and four years later the relationships weren’t sustained” (p.96) The authors attribute the missing research  on insufficient funding.

Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38, 181–199.

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.

Smolin, L., & Lawless, K. A. (2011). Evaluation across contexts: Evaluating the impact of technology integration professional development partnerships. Journal of Digital Learning in Digital Education, 27(3), 92-98.

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