The professional development of teachers and its positive effects on student learning
Every day, teachers face changes brought about by a new curriculum, new assessment methods and new technologies. They also deal with a diverse audience that sometimes cannot withstand the most common teaching practices. Many Anglo-Saxon countries have invested heavily in the continuing professional development of teachers who have already been hired to help them meet today’s challenges. In some English-speaking countries, this change of direction is mainly explained by a meta-analysis of factors that support student learning.
Unfortunately, expectations that investing in teachers’ professional development will lead to higher student outcomes are not being met. Most research literature reports inconsistent and often unsatisfactory results, leading to many failures among political observers (National Staff Development Council, 2001; Sparks, 2004). Several results show that some methods are more effective than others.
I lead a group of researchers whose mission was to find best practices for studying Anglo-Saxon literature based on the following question: “What kind of professional development contributes to development? Results? Students? Sociocultural and psychological literature on professional development allowed us to provide a framework for analyzing empirical studies that contributed to the positive results of schoolchildren. . and also on their personal and social development.
The influence of professional development on student results
Analysis of these studies shows that professional development courses for teachers generally have a positive impact on student outcomes. It is true that there is a certain bias: it is easier to publish positive results than negative ones. The results of students’ study progress showed higher scores than the results of their other personal or social characteristics.
The average effect size, high in the literature, can be explained by considering many studies that have focused on students with special needs whose starting point (low level) has led to very high effects. In science, these effects have been influenced by many studies based on non-standard evaluations performed by researchers. Not surprisingly, the studies performed in the control groups had lower consequences than the studies performed in the control groups, especially when standardized tools were used. The reasons for these limited effects are described here. We have added a more detailed description of the conditions needed to improve student performance.
A professional practice that contributes to improving student outcomes
In this part we will discuss the content of the offered professional training, activities designed to encourage teachers and the learning processes of students.
Content of the training offer
In situations where the profit is highest (in terms of reading comprehension), it is the acquisition of new knowledge and skills by the student, regardless of his socio-cultural environment. Students’ learning outcomes have changed. These contributions should be easily used to inform teachers’ pedagogical decisions. These main trends apply to primary and secondary education. Pedagogical knowledge is understood in the definition given by Shulman (1986, 1987), which is a special term that combines academic and pedagogical knowledge.
This content allows teachers to “transform their knowledge so that their teaching methods are effective, while adapting them to the different abilities and outcomes of students”. Assessment knowledge refers to the ability of teachers to diagnose pupils ‘educational needs so that their education is in line with pupils’ performance. This assessment knowledge also informs teachers of the progress that can be made if they want to improve in teaching the program. Thus, effective vocational training is characterized, inter alia, by knowledge of the interests and limitations of this and such testing, but also by the use of more informal assessment.
These two types of knowledge are not enough in themselves, but must be combined in a common theory of learning. Teachers generally learn from their beliefs about students and how they can learn, but also from their own understanding of the value of each curriculum and the best way to learn it.
Activities that are useful for learning
Most of the professional literature for teachers focuses on activities such as workshops or lessons for teachers rather than on the content taught. In fact, no action guarantees better results than another. All have positive and limited side effects. For example, a course is effective if teachers understand the theory behind their practice. More important than the form of the activity is whether it helps teachers to gain relevant knowledge and skills and how they can put them into practice in the classroom.
Good professional development is essential to address the challenges of reforming and improving the performance of the lowest-performing students in our education systems. Students’ demographics are changing, as is their knowledge of how to learn. This article compiles a list of results of a synthesis of National Education Conferences with international literature on the type of professional development that can lead to better academic results and personal and social application of students.
We have shown that the learning impact of our poorest students can be facilitated by teachers’ commitment to this continuous professional development. An evidence-based approach to the effectiveness of professional development is a challenge for researchers, teacher educators and educators themselves in terms of appropriate access to knowledge dissemination and training on offer. Training assessment is often based on teachers’ reactions at the end of their training.