Review of Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student outcomes

This is a review of a report from the ISTE Journal of Research on Technology in Education (JRTE) on Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student outcomes.

The research found that if instructional technology professional development focuses on aligning instructional problems and key concepts with applicable technology tools, then both student achievement outcomes and teacher satisfaction increased.

The main points, observations, findings and recommendations from the report regarding instructional technology professional development are:

There is a consensus about the characteristics which constitute effective professional development: long duration, follow-up support, active engagement in relevant activities, access to new technologies, collaboration and community building among participants, and shared understanding of student achievement.  The problem still remains about how to measure student outcomes after educators attend well crafted professional development.

The research points out that there is historically:

the lack of obvious alignment between technology PD (which has traditionally focused on software and other electronic resources) and the highly specified content areas teachers need to cover to prepare students for state assessments has made it difficult for research to show connections between technology PD and student outcomes.

Professional development activities need to make explicit connections between specific types of instruction and technology tools, and only then can the technology be linked to increased student learning improvements.

Well crafted and targeted professional development helps educators who attend such sessions connect that learning to their curriculum and standards and then provides a sound pedagogical approach to delivering their course content.

High quality instructional technology professional development take a great deal of time to create, and that time should not be minimized or underestimated.  One can not just throw together a set of ‘cool tools’ to demonstrate  to educators and hope that something effective will emerge from such a session.

The research emphasizes that labor intensive, long duration, ongoing coaching and support and a close connection to the teaching and learning practice are essential for professional development to have an impact.

Many times, instructional technology professional development is often perceived as either a ‘drive-by, or ‘one-shot’ workshop that is  focused on a specific piece of software, hardware, or a set of  resources.  The research in this study provides a good argument demonstrating that content area focused instructional technology professional development, as part of  an integrated comprehensive professional development program, may lead to effective technology integration that then can have positive outcomes for students.

Because the decision to launch a particular professional development initiative is the responsibility of school administrators, they then should be familiar with the specific characteristics that research indicates are essential to high-quality PD and understand that, for PD to have an impact on students, it must first have an impact on teachers.

The research reinforces sessions that I have attended on the TPACK model.  In essence, administrators must first have academic learning goals for staff and students before ordering up a technology workshop on software or hardware-X.

TPACK model


Martin, W., Strother, S., Beglau, M., Bates, L., Reitzes, T., & Culp, K. M. (Fall 2010). Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student outcomes.  Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43, 1. p.53(22).

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1 Response

  1. Steve dickie says:

    I’ve been trying to push for this sort of PD at my school. Everything I read points to it being the way to go. It’s just hard to get teachers to commit to real long term PD.

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Review of Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student outcomes

by Ron Houtman time to read: 2 min