A meta-study on teacher professional development activities

Article type
Thurlings M1, den Brok P1
1Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands
Background: Teacher professional development (TPD) is considered essential for the quality of education. Several literature reviews have explored under which circumstances TPD is effective, yet they did not explicitly explore the methods and theories included studies used.
Objectives: We explore which factors affect peer TPD activities (peer collaboration, peer coaching, and peer assessment), for both in-service and pre-service teachers. Secondly, we examine which kinds of outcomes are achieved through participating in TPD activities. Thirdly, we map the methods, data collections, and theories with these findings were revealed.
Methods: We searched several databases applying five criteria for inclusion and included 76 publications, based on 67 datasets. To answer our research questions, we performed a meta-study (Paterson 2001), consisting of meta-data-analysis, meta-method, meta-theory, and meta-synthesis.
Results: Factors influencing peer TPD activities were (a) personal, e.g. motivation, (b) interpersonal, e.g. trust, (c) intervention-related, e.g. the role of a facilitator, and (d) pre-conditional, e.g. time. Outcomes of peer TPD activities were changes in knowledge and beliefs, teacher behavior, student learning, and outcomes at the team and the school level.
In many studies, various types of self-reports were used on mostly convenient samples. Many instruments were constructed by the researchers. Most instruments were hardly embedded into theory and approaches for reaching reliability were questionable.
Conclusions: Although the findings of the meta-data-analysis confirm former insights, methods and theory used in many reviewed studies lacked depth and sophistication. We contribute to previous reviews, by examining a variety of peer TPD activities and the complexity of factors and outcomes. We urge for higher quality studies and for more transparency about methods in peer reviewed publications.

Reference: Paterson BL, Thorne SE, Canam C, Jillings C. (2001). Meta-study of qualitative health research: A practical guide to meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. Thousand Oakes, CA: SAGE.