Effective Professional Development
The research tells us that professional development for teachers works – if it is well designed, carefully selected and robustly implemented. For busy teachers and practitioners, it needs to be worth the investment of time and energy. That is why it is so important to look at the evidence on ‘what works’ for teacher learning.
“Supporting high quality teaching is pivotal in improving children’s outcomes. Indeed, research tells us that high quality teaching can narrow the disadvantage gap….(There is) a growing consensus that promoting effective professional development (PD) plays a crucial role in improving classroom practice and pupil outcomes, and this guidance reflects this, offering recommendations on how to improve professional development and design and select more impactful PD.”
This text introduces the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) Guidance Report on Effective Professional Development: Effective Professional Development | EEF (educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk)
The report is based around 3 key Recommendations which, as with most EEF Guidance Reports are also presented as an easily accessible summary poster. EEF-Effective-PD-Recommendations-Poster.pdf (d2tic4wvo1iusb.cloudfront.net)
When designing and selecting professional development, focus on the mechanisms
“The core building blocks of a programme. They are observable, can be replicated, and could not be removed without making that PD less effective. Crucially, mechanisms are supported by evidence from research on human behaviour. They have been found, in contexts beyond teaching, to change practice.”
What are these mechanisms? They are presented in this summary graphic:
Ensure that professional development effectively builds knowledge, motivates, develops techniques, and embeds practice.
In this section each of the mechanisms is described and exemplified, demonstrating how each of the four key groups into which the mechanisms are organised are pivotal to achieving the recommendation.
Implement professional development programmes with care, taking into consideration the context and needs of the school.
This section provides guidance on how to ensure that professional development is implemented in a way that is consistent with the specific school context, including its organisation, routines and time constraints. The implementation process cycle, with its four phase of explore, prepare, deliver, sustain, is key here. This process is expanded further in the subsequent EEF publication Putting Evidence to Work – A School’s Guide to Implementation.
There are also additional tools that will support schools in planning PD around the four groups of mechanisms – or in evaluating the design of existing programmes, as well as a useful tool for reflecting on and evaluating the PD process as it is implemented.
In summary, this guidance will support schools in evaluating and selecting PD programmes that may be available to them, or in designing and implementing their own PD to maximise its impact on practice and outcomes.