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Methodological Issues Around Evaluation: How Do We Know What Difference Professional Development Activities Make?

Sara Bubb


It is universally agreed that professional development is important but much money has been spent on training and development activities without a commensurate impact on pupils’ learning and wellbeing. With financial constraints hitting education systems across the world, the time is right to try to understand professional development better for as Lawless and Pellegrino (2007) state although the number of opportunities for teachers has increased, our understanding about what constitutes quality professional development, what teachers learn from it, or its impact on student outcomes has not substantially changed. Ascertaining the difference professional development makes is a complex process. Exposure to and participation in development activities may or may not bring about change to individuals’ beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours. These changes to individuals may or may not lead to changes in the classroom and school practice. And these changes may or may not lead to improvement in pupil outcomes. Difficulties in researching this field, some have argued, stem from simplistic conceptualisations of teacher professional learning that fail to consider how learning is embedded in work contexts. This paper seeks to unpack some methodological issues related to evaluating the difference that professional development makes.


Professional development; Teacher development; Evaluation; Training; Impact; Impatto; Sviluppo del docente; Sviluppo professionale; Valutazione

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2012-006-bubb


Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (19/05/2010 n. 278)
Online ISSN 2037-7924 - Print ISSN 2037-7932

Research Laboratory on Didactics and Evaluation - Department of Education - "Roma Tre" University

Executive Editor: Gaetano Domenici - Managing  Editor: Valeria Biasci
Editorial Board: Giuditta Alessandrini - Eleftheria Argyropoulou - Massimo Baldacci - Joao Barroso - Richard Bates - Christofer Bezzina - Paolo Bonaiuto - Lucia Boncori - Pietro Boscolo - Sara Bubb  - Carlo Felice Casula - Jean-Émile Charlier - Lucia Chiappetta Cajola - Carmela Covato - Jean-Louis Derouet - Peter Early - Franco Frabboni - Constance Katz - James Levin - Pietro Lucisano  - Roberto Maragliano - Romuald Normand - Michael Osborne - Donatella Palomba - Michele Pellerey - Clotilde Pontecorvo - Vitaly V. Rubtzov - Jaap Scheerens - Noah W. Sobe - Francesco Susi - Giuseppe Spadafora - Pat Thomson
Editorial Staff: Fabio Alivernini - Guido Benvenuto - Anna Maria Ciraci - Massimiliano Fiorucci - Luca Mallia - Massimo Margottini - Giovanni Moretti - Carla Roverselli 
Editorial Secretary:
Nazarena Patrizi