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Analyzing and Evaluating Professional Development

author: Horizon Research, Inc.
presented at: 1998 LSC PI/Evaluator Meeting
published: 01/23/1998
posted to site: 10/21/1998

Analyzing and Evaluating Professional Development

Horizon Research, Inc.
Friday 10:30-12:30 a.m.

Three videos of Professional Development were shown.
1) Focused on improving middle school teachers content knowledge; lesson on mirrors.
2) Focused on improving 6th grade teachers content knowledge on astronomy.
3) Was actually of an undergraduate physics class.

Guiding Questions for watching and thinking about these videos:
1. Does the professional development session engage teachers with important content?
2. How effective would each of these sessions be in enhancing teacher knowledge of the content underlying the instructional materials?

Discussion including Maryellen Harmon (MH), Panel Members (PM) who were chosen from the participants to present their views, and Audience Members (AM).

MH: Despite serious faults, #2 was the best. There were serious flaws in content (which can be corrected), it was leader directed, and there was potential unrealized for learning real content.

PM2: Video 2, link between data and developing a pattern. When it came to developing a model it became weak.

MH: They didn't ask the question "Why?" in video #2.

PM3: Video One offered good opportunity to give teachers a chance to get data and ???. But there was no connection with how the teachers measurements folded into the teachers conclusions. Also with #2, I didn't know if the teachers understood the link between the work they were doing and the graph.

PM4: There were limitations in the Third Video, but it offered something not in the first two. Excitement about the intellectual ideas.

PM2: In video 3,, teachers had gone through module previously lacked time to reflect.

PM4: Real professional development requires use with different pieces within the presentation.

CP: In classroom practice, there was no way to rate a wonderful lecture as being a #1 lesson. Eventually we added it.

CP: In #3, if those were adult teachers taking a lesson back to the classroom, you would have thought he ????. While it was excitingly delivered, there was no opportunity for modeling what he was doing.

CP: The measure of a great lecture is retention, d I would wonder what was retained by those students. How do we create lessons where the knowledge and passion of the great lecturer is directed into inquiry based learning? Like, what do you think will happen next, and then perform the results.

CP: As a challenge to us, how would it be better to do what we want, go to him or go to #1 and #2?

CP: There was no opportunity for students to construct their own knowledge in #3.

CP: All 3 were not valuable. I would have preferred seeing exemplary clips rather than junk. It's a travesty to say that one was better than the other two.

CP: The third one brought back all the horrors of being a physics student. We should be careful about pulling out content in these lessons. #3 shows that you have to be verbal, quick, male, funny; it doesn't show about Ohm's law. The teacher also had no trust. The second video had the trust, but she [the pd leader] have enough experience. Content knowledge is not independent of everything else. They are both necessary but not sufficient conditions.

MH: In the third one, he was encouraging a fill-in the blanks technique, but no conceptual growth.

CM: High school demonstration of electronic principles:
engaging, very active
"correct" demonstration and examples
students are never directly active with the materials. They are passively engaged by the teacher to respond to him (he is the focus). The students are primarily dependent on his every move to respond.

Iris Weiss: Referred to Shulman's idea from Mary Kennedy's paper. Content knowledge that teachers can use appropriately help increase student conceptual knowledge. Not many teacher could come away from the third video feeling that they could do that. #2 was a low-key approach where teachers could feel that they could use some of those techniques.

A fourth video, of Talking Math from TERC was shown as an exemplary session of Professional Development.