Professional Learning

Teacher Development Research Review: Annotated Bibliography

January 25, 2013 Updated November 1, 2015

Accomplished California Teachers (2012). Promoting Quality Teaching: New Approaches to Compensation and Career Pathways (PDF). Stanford, CA: National Board Resource Center, Stanford University. This report reviews the research and theory-based recommendations for education leaders to use in developing systems of teacher advancement that promote student learning and educational opportunity. The report provides vivid descriptions of teacher leadership roles and emphasizes the need to support effective teaching in all education contexts, as well as the highest-needs contexts, such as economically disadvantaged schools and correctional facilities.

Allen, J.P., Pianta, R.C., Gregory, A., Mikami, A.Y., and Lun, J. (2011). An Interaction-Based Approach to Enhancing Secondary School Instruction and Student Achievement [Abstract]. Science, 333(6045), 1034-1037. MyTeachingPartner-Secondary is a Web-mediated professional-development system focused on improving teacher-student interactions in the classroom. Based on a randomized controlled trial with 78 secondary school teachers and 2,237 students, MTP-S improved student achievement test scores in the year following its completion, equivalent to moving the average student from the 50th to the 59th percentile. Gains appeared to be mediated by changes in teacher-student interaction qualities targeted by the intervention.

Alliance for Excellent Education (2011). Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness: Lessons Learned from High-Performing Systems (PDF). This report summarizes highly effective systems to develop and support teachers and leaders in Finland, Ontario, and Singapore and describes how each system carries them out. Lessons learned from these systems include: (1) make teaching an attractive profession, (2) invest in continual learning, and (3) recruit and develop high-quality leadership.

Beltman, S., Mansfield, C.F., and Price, A. (2011). Thriving Not Just Surviving: A Review of Research on Teacher Resilience (PDF). Educational Research Review, 6(3), 185-207. This paper reviews recent empirical studies related to the resilience of early career teachers. Individual attributes such as altruistic motives and high self-efficacy are key protective factors. Contextual factors such as school administration, colleagues, and pupils can be risk factors or supports. Mentor programs for early-career teachers were frequently reported as sources of support. Caring leaders and positive student-teacher relationships that inspired teachers were also reported to promote resilience.

Blank, R.K., de las Alas, N., and Smith, C. (2008). Does Teacher Professional Development Have Effects on Teaching and Learning?: Evaluation Findings from Programs in 14 States (PDF). Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. The report reviews 41 evaluation studies from a sample of 25 professional-development initiatives for teachers of math and science conducted across the United States from 2004 through 2007. Only one-third of the programs had well-developed evaluations that produced measurable effects on student achievement or change in instructional practices. Significant effects of professional-development programs were found when programs focused on content knowledge in the math and science subject areas plus pedagogical training in teaching the subject matter. In addition, measuring change in teaching practices in the classroom is a promising outcome worthy of further use and expansion to other professional development studies.

Blank, R.K., and de las Alas, N. (2009). Effects of Teacher Professional Development on Gains in Student Achievement: How Meta-Analysis Provides Scientific Evidence Useful to Education Leaders (PDF). Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers. This meta-analysis, conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and funded by a National Science Foundation grant, aims to provide K-12 education decision makers at the state and local levels with scientifically based evidence about the effects of teacher professional development on student achievement. Across studies, teacher professional development in mathematics showed significant positive effects on student learning. The results also confirmed the positive relationship of key characteristics of professional-development design identified in previous studies over the past decade to student outcomes: sustained, active teacher learning that is coherently aligned with the school’s organization. The study urges education leaders to make their professional-development decisions based on initiatives showing evidence of positive effects on student achievement.

Borko, H. (2004). Professional Development and Teacher Learning: Mapping the Terrain (PDF). Educational Researcher, 33(8), 3-15. Teacher professional development is essential to efforts to improve our schools. This article maps the terrain of research on this important topic. It first provides an overview of what we have learned as a field, about effective professional-development programs and their impact on teacher learning. It then suggests some important directions and strategies for extending our knowledge into new territory of questions not yet explored.

Brantlinger, A., Sherin, M.G., and Linsenmeier, K.A. (2011). Discussing Discussion: A Video Club in the Service of Math Teachers National Board Preparation [Abstract]. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 17(1), 5-33. The paper examines a group of secondary mathematics teachers who met 16 times to discuss video excerpts of their teaching with the explicit purpose of assisting with the preparation of video for submission to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Teachers engaged in extensive discussions about how to facilitate and evaluate classroom math discussions. The participants’ professional community collaboratively and substantively examined each other's practices. Preparing for National Board certification can facilitate teacher learning and the development of professional teacher communities.

Bryk, A.S., and Schneider, B. (2003). Trust in Schools: A Core Resource for School Improvement. Creating Caring Schools, 60(6), 40-45. Important consequences play out in the day-to-day social exchanges within a school community. Recent research shows that social trust among teachers, parents, and school leaders improves much of the routine work of schools and is a key resource for reform. The authors conducted almost a decade of intensive case-study research and longitudinal statistical analyses from more than 400 Chicago elementary schools. They spent approximately four years in 12 school communities observing school meetings and events; conducting interviews and focus groups with principals, teachers, parents, and community leaders; observing classroom instruction; and talking to teachers about the progress and problems in their reform efforts. Differences between two of these cases help illustrate how the dynamics of relational trust across a school community influence its reform efforts.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2012). Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching (PDF). Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. This report identifies five key features of effective teacher evaluation systems that also support effective teaching: (1) start with standards, (2) create performance-based assessments, (3) build a standards-based system of local evaluation, (4) create structures to support high-quality, fair, and effective evaluation, and (5) create aligned professional-learning opportunities. The report also reviews the evidence discouraging the use of value-added modeling in teacher evaluation practices.

Darling-Hammond, L., Wei, R.C., Andree, A., Richardson, N., and Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad (PDF). Stanford, CA: National Staff Development Council and the School Redesign Network at Stanford University. This report examines what research has revealed about professional learning that improves teachers’ practice and student learning. It describes the relative availability of such opportunities in the United States as well as in high-achieving nations around the world, which have been making substantial and sustained investments in professional learning for teachers over the last two decades.

Gallimore, R., Ermeling, B.A., Saunders, W.M., and Goldenberg, C. (2009). Moving the Learning of Teaching Closer to Practice: Teacher Education Implications of School-Based Inquiry Teams (PDF). Elementary School Journal. A five-year prospective, quasi-experimental investigation demonstrated that grade-level teams in nine Title 1 schools using an inquiry-focused protocol to solve instructional problems significantly increased achievement. Teachers applying the inquiry protocol shifted attribution of improved student performance to their teaching rather than external causes. This shift was achieved by focusing on an academic problem long enough to develop an instructional solution. Seeing causal connections fosters acquisition of key teaching skills and knowledge, such as identifying student needs, formulating instructional plans, and using evidence to refine instruction. These outcomes are more likely when teams are teaching similar content, led by a trained peer-facilitator, using an inquiry-focused protocol, and have stable settings in which to engage in continuous improvement.

Guskey, T.R., and Yoon, K.S. (2009). What Works in Professional Development? (PDF) Phi Delta Kappan, 90(7), 495-500. A research synthesis confirms the difficulty of translating professional development into student achievement gains despite the intuitive and logical connection. Those responsible for planning and implementing professional development must learn how to critically assess and evaluate the effectiveness of what they do. In this analysis, time was found to be a crucial factor to success. While the number of contact hours ranged widely, from five to over 100 hours depending on the study, those initiatives that showed positive effects included 30 or more contact hours. It thus seems clear that effective professional development requires considerable time, and that time must be well organized, carefully structured, purposefully directed, and focused on content or pedagogy or both (Citing: Birman et al., 2000; Garet et al., 2001; Guskey, 1999).

Hanushek, E.A. (2011). The Economic Value of Higher Teacher Quality (PDF). Economics of Education Review, 30, 466-479. This article reviews what is known about the relationship between teacher quality and student achievement and combines information about teacher effectiveness with the economic impact of higher achievement. A teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates marginal gains of over $400,000 in future student earnings, assuming a class size of 20, and proportionately higher gains with larger class sizes. However, for ineffective teachers, increased class size exacerbates the negative effect on students’ future earnings. Replacing the bottom 5 percent to 8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the United States near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.

Hanushek, E.A., and Rivkin, S.G. (2012). The Distribution of Teacher Quality and Implications for Policy. Annual Review of Economics, 4, 131-157. Existing research consistently shows large variations in teacher effectiveness, much of which is within schools as opposed to between schools. The authors discuss the complexity of factors that contribute to the gains of students on various achievement tests.

Heller, J.I., Daehler, K.R., Wong, N., Shinohara, M., and Miratrix, L.W. (2012). Differential Effects of Three Professional Development Models on Teacher Knowledge and Student Achievement in Elementary Science [Abstract]. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(3), 333–362. A randomized experiment implemented in six states with over 270 elementary teachers and 7,000 students compared three related but systematically varied teacher interventions -- taught through three courses, Teaching Cases, Looking at Student Work, and Metacognitive Analysis -- and no-treatment controls. The three courses contained identical science content components but differed in the ways they incorporated analysis of learner thinking and of teaching. Teacher courses were led by trained staff developers. Teaching Cases and Looking at Student Work courses improved the accuracy and completeness of students' written justifications of test answers, and only Teaching Cases had sustained effects on teachers' written justifications. Findings suggest investing in professional development that integrates content learning with analysis of student learning and teaching rather than advanced content or teacher metacognition alone.

Hill, H.C., Rowan, B., and Ball, D.L. (2005). Effects of Teachers’ Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching on Student Achievement (PDF). American Educational Research Journal, 42(2), 371-406. This study explored whether and how teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching contributes to gains in students’ mathematics achievement. Teachers’ mathematical knowledge was significantly related to student achievement gains in both first and third grades after controlling for key student- and teacher-level covariates.

Ingersoll, R., and Strong, M. (2011). The Impact of Induction and Mentoring Programs for Beginning Teachers: A Critical Review of the Research. Review of Education Research, 81(2), 201-233. This review critically examines 15 published studies on the effects of teacher induction and mentoring programs for new teachers. The authors conclude that, overall, the evidence supports the claim that teacher induction and mentorship programs in particular have positive impacts, including improved teacher satisfaction, retention, and student achievement.

Jaquith, A., Mindich, D., Wei, R.C., and Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Teacher Professional Learning in the United States: Case Studies of State Policies and Strategies. Oxford, OH: Learning Forward. This study, third in a series of three studies on the state of professional development in the United States, examines state policies and practices of four states making progress in two factors: access to professional development as defined by the Professional Development Access Index and student achievement as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Leithwood, K., Seashore Louis, K., Anderson, S.E., and Wahlstrom, K. L. (2004). Review of Research: How Leadership Influences Student Learning (PDF). University of Minnesota and University of Toronto. This review has summarized a broad range of empirical research and related literature in order to better understand the links between leadership and student learning. Both district and school leadership provide a critical bridge between most reform initiatives and their consequences for students. Of all the factors that contribute to what students learn at school, leadership is second in strength only to classroom instruction. Furthermore, effective leadership has the greatest impact in those circumstances in which it is most needed (e.g., schools “in trouble”). This evidence supports the present widespread interest in improving leadership as a key to the successful implementation of large-scale reforms.

Lewis, C., Perry, R., Hurd, J., and O’Connell, M.P. (2006). Lesson Study Comes of Age in North America (PDF). Phi Delta Kappan, 88(4), 273-281. This case study details the practices that led to the growth and success of lesson study at Highlands Elementary School in California’s San Mateo-Foster City School District.

Lewis, C., Perry, R., and Murata, A. (2006). How Should Research Contribute to Instructional Improvement? The Case of Lesson Study (Abstract). Educational Researcher, 35(3), 3-14. Lesson study is a Japanese form of professional development that centers on collaborative study of live classroom lessons, and it has spread rapidly in the United States since 1999. This paper identifies six changes in the structure and norms of educational research that would enhance the field’s capacity to study emerging innovations such as lesson study. These changes include rethinking the routes from educational research to educational improvement and recognizing a “local proof route,” building research methods and norms that will better enable us to learn from innovation practitioners and increasing our capacity to learn across cultural boundaries. Proposed research includes development of a descriptive knowledge base, explication of the innovation’s mechanism, and iterative cycles of improvement research.

Meyers, C., and Brandt, W.C. (2010). A Summary of External Program Evaluation Findings for the eMINTS (enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies) Program from 1999–2009 (PDF). Naperville, IL: Learning Points Associates. This document summarizes ten years of eMINTS professional-development research and evaluation and assesses the quality of evidence reported.

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) (2012). The Bottom Line: Impact on Student Achievement and Learning. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This report recommends further research to investigate the question of whether the certification process itself makes teachers more effective -- as they become familiar with the standards and complete the assessment -- or if high-quality teachers are attracted to the certification process, as well as to determine whether NBPTS certification is having broader effects on the educational system beyond individual classrooms. Studies so far suggest that many school systems are not supporting or making the best use of their board-certified teachers.

NBPTS: Impact of National Board Certification page. This page summarizes a number of studies on a variety of impacts as well as possible impacts of National Board certification.

NBPTS Research page. This page give access to an archive of studies and summarizes a variety of research including findings on National Board certification and teacher retention; National Board certification and effective teachers, and impacts of National Board certification.

National Writing Project (2010). Writing Project Professional Development Continues to Yield Gains in Student Writing Achievement (PDF). National Writing Project Research Brief, No. 2. Berkeley, CA: University of California. This report reviews 16 studies conducted in seven states; 103 of 112 comparisons show positive results in writing achievement favoring students in classrooms of NWP participants, based on grading by “blind” coders who did not know whether the author received NWP teaching. In every case, students taught by teachers who participated in NWP programs outperformed students whose teachers were not participants.

Nye, B., Konstantopoulos, S., and Hedges, L.V. (2004). How Large Are Teacher Effects? (PDF). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26(3), 237-257. To estimate teacher effects on student achievement, the authors analyze data from a four-year experiment in which teachers and students were randomly assigned to classes. Estimates of teacher effects on achievement gains are similar in magnitude to those of previous econometric studies, but the authors found larger effects on mathematics achievement than on reading achievement, and in low socioeconomic status (SES) schools than in high SES schools.

Rivkin, S.G., Hanushek, E.A., and Kain, J.F. (2005). Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement (PDF). Econometrica, 73(2), 417–458. This paper disentangles the impact of schools and teachers in influencing achievement with special attention given to the potential problems of omitted or mismeasured variables and of student and school selection. Unique matched panel data from the University of Texas at Dallas Texas Schools Project permit the identification of teacher quality based on student performance along with the impact of specific, measured components of teachers and schools. Semiparametric lower bound estimates of the variance in teacher quality based entirely on within-school heterogeneity indicate that teachers have powerful effects on reading and mathematics achievement, though little of the variation in teacher quality is explained by observable characteristics such as education or experience. The results suggest that the effects of a costly ten-student reduction in class size are smaller than the benefit of moving one standard deviation up the teacher quality distribution, highlighting the importance of teacher effectiveness in the determination of school quality.

Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S. O., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. A. (2015). Teacher Collaboration in Instructional Teams and Student Achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 475-514. In this study, survey and administrative data on over 9,000 teachers in 336 schools was analyzed to investigate the impact that teacher collaboration (often in the form of instructional teams) had on student achievement. On average, teachers and schools that engage in better quality collaboration have better achievement gains in math and reading. In addition, teachers improve at greater rates when they work in schools with better collaboration quality.

Roth, K.J., Garnier, H.E., Chen, C., Lemmens, M., Schwille, K., and Wickler, N.I.Z. (2011). Videobased Lesson Analysis: Effective Science PD for Teacher and Student Learning [Abstract]. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(2), 117-148. The Science Teachers Learning from Lesson Analysis (STeLLA) project is a professional-development program that uses video-based analysis of practice to improve teacher and student learning at the upper elementary level. The yearlong PD program utilized two “lenses,” a Science Content Storyline Lens and a Student Thinking Lens, to help teachers analyze science teaching and learning and to improve teaching practices. Participants included 48 teachers (n = 32 experimental, n = 16 control) and 1,490 students. The STeLLA program significantly improved teachers' science content knowledge and their ability to analyze science teaching. STeLLA teachers increased their classroom use of science teaching strategies associated with both lenses while their students increased their science content knowledge. This paper highlights the importance of the science content storyline in science teaching and professional development more broadly.

Sherin, M.G., and Han, S.Y. (2004). Teacher Learning in the Context of a Video Club [Abstract]. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 163-183. This paper examines video clubs as a model of professional development. Middle school math teachers met 10 times (40 minutes each) in a yearlong series to watch and discuss videotapes of their classrooms. Over time, discourse in the video clubs shifted from a focus on the teacher to increased attention to students’ actions and ideas, toward increasingly detailed analyses of student thinking. Furthermore, teachers began to reframe their discussions of pedagogical issues in terms of student thinking

Slavin, R.E., Lake, C., Chambers, B., Cheung, A., and Davis, S. (2010). Effective Reading Programs for the Elementary Grades: A Best-evidence Synthesis (PDF). Review of Educational Research, 79(4), 1391-1466. This article systematically reviews research on the achievement outcomes of four types of approaches to improving the reading success of children in the elementary grades: reading curricula, instructional technology, instructional process programs, and combinations of curricula and instructional process. Study inclusion criteria included use of randomized or matched control groups, a study duration of at least 12 weeks, valid achievement measures independent of the experimental treatments, and a final assessment at the end of grade 1 or later. A total of 63 beginning reading (starting in kindergarten or first grade) and 79 upper-elementary (grades 2-5) reading studies met these criteria. The review concludes that instructional process programs designed to change daily teaching practices have substantially greater research support than programs that focus on curriculum or technology alone.

Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., and Thomas, S. (2006). Professional Learning Communities: A Review of the Literature (PDF). Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), 221-258. International evidence suggests that progress in education depends on teachers’ individual and collective capacity and its link with the school’s capacity for promoting learning. Building capacity is therefore critical. Capacity is a complex blend of motivation, skill, positive learning, organizational conditions and culture, and infrastructure of support. Put together, it gives individuals, groups, whole school communities, and school systems the power to get involved in and sustain learning over time. Developing professional learning communities seems to hold great promise for capacity building for sustainable improvement.

Thompson, M., Goe, L., Paek, P., and Ponte, E. (2004). Research Summary: Study of the Impact of the California Formative Assessment and Support System for Teachers (PDF). Educational Testing Service and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The goal of this quasi-experimental design is to assess the impact of the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program and California Formative Assessment and Support System for Teachers on teaching practices and student learning. Comparing new teachers with high versus low levels of engagement in the program, and using surveys, classroom observations, in-person and telephone interviews, and standardized test scores, researchers found that a high level of engagement in CFASST improved teaching practice and student learning.

Vescio, V., Ross, D., and Adams, A. (2008). A Review of Research on the Impact of Professional Learning Communities on Teaching Practice and Student Learning [Abstract]. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 80-91. Review of 11 empirical studies on professional learning communities. The authors found that PLCs have a positive effect on student learning: student scores increased in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies subject tests. Four characteristics were inherent in learning communities that worked to promote positive changes in teaching cultures: collaboration, a focus on student learning, teacher authority, and continual teacher learning.

The Wallace Foundation (2012). The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning (PDF). The Wallace Foundation has funded leadership improvement efforts in public schools in 24 states and has issued more than 70 reports on school leadership, from how principals are trained to how they are evaluated. Based on this expertise, they describe five qualities that define a principal’s effectiveness on improved student achievement: (1) shaping a vision of academic success for all students, (2) creating a climate hospitable to education, (3) cultivating leadership in others, (4) improving instruction, and 5) managing people, data, and processes to foster school improvement.

Webster-Wright, A. (2009). Reframing Professional Development through Understanding Authentic Professional Learning [Abstract}. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 702-739. Continuing to learn is expected across all professions. Many professional-development practices focus on delivering content rather than enhancing learning. An alternative is proposed based on research over the last two decades about how professionals learn. The author argues for the need to shift discourse and focus from delivering and evaluating professional-development programs to understanding and supporting authentic professional learning.

Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W-Y., Scarloss, B., and Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the Evidence on How Teacher Professional Development Affects Student Achievement (PDF). Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. Of the more than 1,300 studies identified as potentially addressing the effect of teacher professional development on student achievement in three key content areas, nine meet What Works Clearinghouse evidence standards, attesting to the paucity of rigorous studies that directly examine this link. This report finds that teachers who receive substantial professional development—an average of 49 hours in the nine studies—can boost their students’ achievement by about 21 percentile points.

Yoshida, M. (2002). Overview of Lesson Study in Japan, Lesson Study Conference 2002 (PDF). This resource provides detailed information to assist educators in using the lesson study method. Makoto Yoshida, an expert in lesson study and Japanese teaching practices, provides an overview of lesson study of Japan. The practice of lesson study has a long history. It is correlated to the improvement of teaching and learning in the classroom and has helped develop curriculum in Japan. Yoshida outlines the process as it has been practiced in Japan, including planning a lesson study schedule; choosing a research theme; preparing, writing, teaching, and discussing a research lesson; writing a lesson study report; and hosting an open house.

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