Join a discussion about making, understanding, and measuring the impacts of practicum-based teacher professional development models, and aspects of policy and context that mediate these impacts.
Professional development projects aim to improve student learning by directly impacting teachers. However, the work of teachers (and thus the potential impact of professional development) is often impacted by a number of policy and context-related factors. This poses a challenge not only in programming designed to impact teachers, but also to the ability to detect these impacts through rigorous research designs. Indeed, recent research emphasizes that a significant portion of the variation in teachers’ implementation of best practices that enhance the opportunity to learn science in elementary classrooms can be accounted for by accountability-driven initiatives and pressures (Hayes & Trexler, 2016). Through an interactive panel discussion, using two practicum-based professional development programs as cases, participants will consider questions such as:
- What impacts do we expect from ‘practicum-based’ models of professional development?
- In what ways are we actually making an impact?
- How are we understanding and measuring these impacts?
- How is our ability to make and/or detect impacts affected by other factors?
Specifically, presenters and participants will consider the challenges of implementing professional development in the context of change—including new standards, curricula, and assessment following the NGSS, as well as issues unique to the elementary context such as frequent grade level reassignment of teachers. Discussion will be geared toward identifying solutions for addressing these challenges, and identifying recommendations for navigating issues of impact in the design and implementation of research on professional development.