Effective evaluation of professional development

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Edwards, Claire
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Piggot-Irvine, Eileen
Youngs, Howard
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
professional development
New Zealand primary schools
Edwards, C. (2011). Effective evaluation of professional development. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management Unitec Institute of Technology New Zealand.
The overall aim of this research was to examine the effectiveness of professional development evaluation in a sample of New Zealand primary schools. RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. Why is it important to evaluate professional development? 2. How do leaders evaluate the effectiveness of professional development in the sample of New Zealand primary schools? 3. What types of evaluation are effective from the perspective of teachers? 4. What challenges do leaders face in evaluating professional development? Professional development is an area in which New Zealand schools invest large amounts of resources. In education today there is a strong focus on accountability. New Zealand schools are required to provide evidence in their charter document to the Ministry of Education to show that their spending is allocated appropriately within their organisation. The expenditure of time and funding on professional development is a significant part of any school’s budget. The evaluation of professional development is therefore vital to meet accountability requirements. Effective evaluation is necessary to establish the link between professional development and the impact on both teacher practice and students’ achievement and learning. There is limited research in New Zealand focused on professional development evaluation in a primary school setting. The purpose of this research was to investigate the effectiveness of professional development evaluation in New Zealand primary schools. A mainly qualitative research methodology was used for this study. Two research methods, interviews and questionnaire, were used to collect the data. Four Auckland primary schools were involved in the study. Interviews were carried out with four leaders who were responsible for professional development in their school and in this study 56 participants from the four schools took part in the questionnaire. The findings revealed that all of the research schools espoused that their evaluation focus was primarily on the impact professional development had on teacher practice and students’ achievement. The leaders were reflective and some were open to improving their evaluation practice. The findings showed that there was limited use of research and/or models to support evaluation practice in the schools. The findings suggested that complex evaluation models are inaccessible for schools to use without adaptation from a theoretical level to practical use in a school. The main recommendations from this research are for schools to carry out a self review of their current evaluation practices and for leaders to have opportunities to investigate alternative evaluation approaches used by other schools.
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