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The Five Models of Professional Development Author Simon Clarke ICT Action Research 2008

The Five Models of Professional Development


Simon Clarke

ICT Action Research 2008



Identifying a Research Project

Project Title – Exploring what models of professional development create the most effective change.

Name of School / Class Balmacewen Intermediate


Simon Clarke


Class / School Description

Year Group = 7/8

The school is currently engaged in a programme of professional development involving ICT and Action Research.

Research Focus / Questions

What models of professional development create the most effective change.


Balmacewen Intermediate has invested a huge amount of money into hardware and teacher release to improve teaching and learning. In 2007, all classes were equipped with projectors and surround sound systems and in 2008 all but three classrooms had been installed with $3000 interactive white boards. Human resources have also been invested in; Iain Bonney was available for support in Action Research but also for the technical issues people were facing, Simon Briscoe from Activ Boards was contracted to provide 16 hours of technical support and I had also been released at considerable expense to the school to provide support for best use of the whiteboards and other ICT tools in teaching and learning.

Project Outline

Over the course of the year I wanted to explore different professional development models and find what model has the biggest effect on teacher professional development. Sparks and Loucks-Horsley (1989) catagorised 5 different models of professional development; Individually Guided Development, Observation and Assessment, Involvement in a Development or Improvement Process, Training and Inquiry. I planned to use three of these models and base them upon my professional development support in each of the first three terms.



To read a variety of material on professional development

Have a thorough knowledge of the Promethean/Activ Board software

Expected Outcomes

Teachers will have a greater confidence in using and creating flipcharts, using their interactive whiteboard and any other ICT equipment that interests them and improve teaching and learning

Outline Plan


Complete a questionnaire on teachers needs for ICT development.

Lessons and Activities

Term One - Mount Roskill Intermediate employs a full time ICT teacher whose job is not only to teach ICT skills to students but also provide professional development to the teachers as they are expected to be active participants in the students’ lessons. The teacher would tell the ICT specialist what learning outcomes they were covering in class and he would devise a lesson which incorporated this learning outcome but also a relevant ICT skill, the teacher then took part in the lesson.

It was on this basis that I wanted to explore the first model of professional development, “Training”. Training could be viewed as the most traditional approach to professional development and is probably the most common. The expert presents new ideas or skills to the learner for them to try at a later date.

All but one teacher, who declined the support offered, were asked for a morning and afternoon time slot and at a point closer to the time the learning outcomes that they were hoping to achieve in that time slot.

Showing what could be done with the interactive whiteboards and its associated software was a high priority, but I also endeavoured to show how ICT can support co- operative learning and any other suitable hardware and/or software. The morning math sessions generally used the flipcharts to support the numeracy project but also an introduction to the learning objects was a common lesson. The afternoon sessions were much more varied including; Flickr (Art), Blogger (Writing and classroom portal), Clickview (Outdoor Ed), Stop Motion Animation (Outdoor Ed), Marvin (Picture Books), Cosmic Blobs (Picture Books), Interwrite Tablet (For 10, 11 and 23), Video Editing (Inquiry) and Photography (Foods).

Each teacher was left with a detailed step by step set of instructions (appendix 1-15) on how to do it for themselves and any resources that was created for the lesson (appendix 16)

Term Two

The next step was to take a step backward and support teachers in their ICT capabilities rather than doing it for them. It had became apparent however, that

throughout term one, teacher confidence came through success in using the software and hardware, however by its very nature ICT has so many variable that things can

and often go wrong when using it within a lesson.

teachers still needed support in the event of a systems or hardware failure to keep them trying to push their comfort limits.

It reaffirmed my belief that

The second model I wanted to explore was “Individually Guided Development”. “The essence of this professional development model is that teachers define and direct their own learning” (Tallerico, 2005) As I will discuss later in the evaluation the major problem with the “Training” model is that it was to easy to either set the training to high or to low. It was important that teachers were able to individually select areas of improvement and take ownership of their PD.

Teachers were asked to give up some of their CRT time, so that I could show them the skills needed to complete the lesson that they wanted to deliver and I would then team teach or support the lesson to ensure that the teacher found success in the lesson and didn’t have to worry about the technology failing them.

An unexpected development of being appointed a “Math Coach” gave me an opportunity to explore a fourth but unplanned form of professional development, “observation and assessment.” I was extremely conscience that this was not seen as a form of evaluation. Guskey (2000) wrote that “observations that are well planned, focus on specific issues, and provide follow up to document improvements are generally the most effective.” I wanted to achieve this through the medium of video. Video allowed the person being observed to be the observer, to critique themselves with no judging or evaluating from the initial observer. It supports my beliefs in the bottom up approach to professional development, as for change in practice to truly happen then it needs to come from the needs of the individual rather than being forced upon them.

Each year 8 teacher was filmed taking a numeracy lesson, a full copy was given to them with three positive observations, which would be then used to develop a best practice video of lessons to be stored on the clickview system. It also contained roughly three observations from me for things to think about. What they did with this information was then up to them, which I will discuss further in the evaluation section.

Term Three

The third and final planned form of professional development was to support the teachers in their completion of “Inquiry” or “Action Research”. Teachers had been supported through out the year through the expertise of myself, staff meetings and more importantly through Iain Bonney, they were also given the incentive of “The Big Red Rutherford. This leaving the problem of “time” being the last barrier to

completing their action research. 54 hours of my time was scheduled in this term to simply release teachers to complete readings, analyse data, and write up their findings, basically anything to successfully complete their action research.

Evidence Gathering and Evaluation

For the most part I was pleased with the professional development programme conducted in Term One. The students were generally highly engaged in the lessons and many new ICT skills were being covered not only for teachers but also for me. I was concerned and frustrated however with a small number of teachers who missed the point of these demonstration lessons and used the time to complete their own organisational requirements. An end of term survey was completed which came back with some interesting results. It became apparent that due to the top down approach to PD in this term, that the amount of change to teachers practice would have its limitations. Sometimes it was not suitable to the recipient needs or capabilities and the fact that you were shown something once doesn’t mean that change in teaching practice will occur.

Something that you thought you might be useful and you might like to try?

you thought you might be useful and you might like to try? Teachers were generally not

Teachers were generally not asked what skills they wanted to see and therefore at times they felt it was an unrealistic expectation that they would ever be able to replicate the lesson thus making the activity a waste of time. Even when given the option of support in attempting these tasks they still felt it was impossible.

Something that you feel you are capable of doing?

Something that you feel you are capable of doing with support?

However too much could be possible read into these findings as in every question there
However too much could be possible read into these findings as in every question there

However too much could be possible read into these findings as in every question there were always 2 respondents who always chose the strongest negative. The survey was unable to neither identify if these were the same two people nor of course give reasons why they had such a negative agenda. This illustrates the importance of asking people to articulate their responses in a survey.

Have you with any of the ICT skills demonstrated

a survey. Have you with any of the ICT skills demonstrated Term Two was a term

Term Two was a term of frustration and successes. My time was split between delievring the professional development that I had devised but also releasing teachers to attend courses such as Kath Murdoch, visits for teachers to Oamaru Intermediate and cover for Simon Briscoe and the interactive whiteboard PD.

At times due to the busy nature of teaching, the extra requirements of my professional development programme were not always welcomed. Not all slots which were made available were taken up, especially when it came to the in class technical support stage of the programme.

The biggest successes however came out of the videoing of the math lessons. The teachers of year 8 had become their own “critical friend” and some excellent examples of high quality mathematics teaching are now available on clickview for new teachers to see what maths looks like at Balmacewen. Some of the teachers saw themselves and refined what they were doing with one teacher requesting support to improve their teaching in this area. In my opinion, this is the most powerful form of professional development, when the teacher sees a clear case for the need for change then it is more likely to happen. It is the opposite of the “Training” model were the teacher may, or in many cases, may not decide to implement what has been shown to them on a consistent basis.

I did need to do a better job getting closure with this project as I didn’t lead the Year 8 group in a viewing of the final best case example DVD, nor did the teacher concerned get the extra support that they requested.

The only gage for success for my efforts in Term Three was the completion rates of the teachers Action Research Projects. “Time” or at least the lack of it was identified as the number one barrier to completing “Action Research” in a 2007 debrief (Appendix 16). We appeared to have all of the other barriers such as support (Iain, ICTPD cluster web site, staff meetings and myself) and incentive (personal improvement, $100) covered hence my willingness to release teachers for up to three hours to go towards completing their research. It was pleasing to see a marked increase in the numbers of teachers who have completed their “Action Research”

Numbers of Teachers who Completed Action Research

Numbers of Teachers who Completed Action Research In 2006, action research was only available to teachers

In 2006, action research was only available to teachers involved in the “Concept Class” In 2007 it was introduced to the whole school where we had 3:2 ratio of concept class teachers to teachers, while in 2008 it is extremely pleasing to see the number double. It is anticipated that another 4 people will complete their action research for publication before the end of the year.


I have no scientific way of analysing which one of the four professional development models used have had the greatest affect size. But in comparing the “Training” model to the other three models it became clear that the “training” model has the most limitations in evoking change. The training sessions sometimes missed the objective completely as the challenge was not suitable and this was on a one to one basis. Most “Training” activities are delivered to a large group of teachers who all have diverse range of skills and knowledge.

Training sessions do have their place and is the easiest form of professional development. But they do need to be highly planned and prepared for which takes into account the needs and abilities of the learners so that the objective is met effectively.

It is the personalisation of the other three models which seem to have the biggest benefits. It is the teacher themselves, (with support) are the ones creating the change in their practice. It is a safer option as they have ownership over the change and don’t feel as threatened. The limitations are however a tendency to stay within areas that they may feel comfortable in.

“It takes 6 weeks to form a new habit” 1 and 5-7 years to create systematic change within a school. How can change happen in a one off session? It is only “training” of the highest quality that will have any long term effect on teachers practice. Although personalised professional development can only change one small part of a teachers practice at a time, and the time needed to change it is much greater, this must ultimately be better than superficial or no change at all.


Sparks, D. & Loucks-Horsley, S. (1989, Fall). Five models of staff development for teachers. Journal of Staff Development, 10(4), 40-57.

Tallerico, M. (2005). Supporting and Sustaining Teachers’ Professional Development. CA: Corwin, p38

Thomas R. Guskey (2000). Evaluating Professional Development: Corwin Press


1 Andrew Fuller – NZAIMS Conference, September 2008, Wellington