As a former teacher, I realize that my colleagues tend to have problems when getting to know and starting to use new instructional strategies and technology tools. Still, as an Instructional Technologist for the district, I am also obliged to ensure that they are improving their knowledge and skills making them up-to-date so that the learners can benefit more and reach better academic achievements. Thus, it is critical for my supervisor and me to prepare a professional development training program so that it meets teachers’ needs.
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To find out what approach or format of training appropriate for instructional and technology focus the educators would prefer, I should gather related data. I believe that the most advantageous way is to conduct an interview, questionnaire, or telephone survey (McCawley, 2009).
The questionnaire can be conducted using e-mail, which means that there is no necessity to gather all teachers and prevent them from working. It allows reaching many people including those who I do not know personally in a cost-effective way (Blackwell, 2016). The typed data can be then easily summarized and reported to my supervisor. I will have an opportunity to present the results statistically, which will streamline further procedures. Even though I may face complications due to the unstructured form of the information, I still believe questionnaires to be very useful.
A telephone survey can also be advantageous as I do not need to gather all teachers to obtain the information. Unlike with e-mails, the responders will not forget to answer the questions, which ensures higher rates of return. I will also be able to note what is emphasized due to the changes in intonation. In addition to that, I will have a chance to explain something or ask to clarify even though in some cases it may lead to the introduction of bias. It may also be difficult to note all information mentioned by the educators.
Finally, I also have the opportunity to conduct an interview. It is an inexpensive method to gather needed information that allows focusing on a wide variety of different perspectives related to the same topic. As the interaction will be open-ended, I will have a chance to enhance my understanding of the teachers’ views. Realizing that there are some additional issues, I will have an opportunity to focus on them also and clarify some things. What is also vital, I will be able to notice non-verbal cues of the participants (WBI evaluation group, 2007). Of course, it may be difficult to avoid biases and analyze unstructured materials, but the advantages of thing approach tend to exceed these drawbacks.
When focusing on the technology topics that should be addressed through professional development, I would gather related data with the help of a questionnaire, focus, or working groups.
With the help of the questionnaire, I will be able to find out what topics the educators consider to be vital while working with groups I will have an opportunity to make my own opinion based on my observations and their results. Thus, with groups, I will also be able to find out individual/generalized issues the teachers have even though they are not aware of them or just do not want to discuss (McCawley, 2009). Of course, the questionnaire will be much easier to conduct and assess, which ensures streamlined research. Still, various approaches should be discussed so that no critical drawbacks are left.
Paying attention to the problems faced by the teachers who are dealing with their professional development, I realized that it would be still better for them if the duration of the training program does not change and remain one full day. Unfortunately, the amount of information that should be perceived is rather big and a couple of hours is not enough to cope with everything. Of course, training can be divided into several days, but then it will be even more complicated for teachers to get prepared for the classes. Online programs may be useful, of course, but they do not guarantee that all educators will be present, which can lead to additional complications. Thus, I believe that it will be better if special strategies are used to improve professional development programs.
First of all, training that is offered for educators should be focused on specific issues they have so that it remains interesting and useful. The program should be extended for various topics to be discussed instead of one or two limited options. It will also be good if educators support each other and assist. For example, they can share the information they know, help during lessons, etc. (Taylor & Hamdy, 2013). It is significant to ensure that asking for assistance and attending classes held by colleagues is normal. Teachers should observe similar projects and lessons in the framework of professional development. Such an approach will give them a chance to find out new strategies that work in practice or define those that should not be used. Based on the observed information and the data obtained due to personal experience, educators can gather meetings to discuss work-related issues so that less unknown information should be discussed during the training program and its focus can be easily determined (Caena, 2011). As a result, its duration may also reduce, which is likely to appeal to teachers.
To make sure that the proposed areas for improvement of the professional development program are successful, it is critical to collect related data and assess it. It may be advantageous to use Kirkpatrick’s training evaluation model, for example. At first, teachers’ reactions and attitudes regarding the program should be taken into consideration. Anonymous questionnaires can be used to receive this information rather fast and analyze it with no problems. Questions should be asked not just to receive a general opinion but to concentrate on various program components. Then an achievement test can be used to see how learning affected teachers. The third step is to be made in several months and should conduct a retrospective survey on the way training is transferred to practice. Finally, the assessment of all outcomes should be maintained.
Brinkerhoff’s success case method can also be used for the same purpose. I will start with the creation of the success case so that all stakeholders support my idea. Then, the impact model is to be made. It includes the expected goals and impacts. A survey research study based on a questionnaire is to help to identify whether the program helped in practice. In-depth interviews will allow me to focus on all elements so that I will be able to write-up the findings.
If using Rossi’s five-domain evaluation model, I should start with questions related to the needs assessment to define the problems faced by the teachers and what they need to learn. The theory assessment will focus on the way the program operates and how it is going to assist in reaching expected outcomes. The implementation assessment will be used to ensure that training followed the plan. The impact assessment will be used to gather information about the way the situation changed due to the program. Finally, the efficiency assessment will ensure that the program is worthy (Johnson & Dick, 2012).
Blackwell, A. (2016). Survey methods in technology and physical sciences. Web.
Caena, F. (2011). Literature review: Quality in Teachers’ continuing professional development. Web.
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Johnson, B., & Dick, W. (2012). Evaluation in Instructional design: A comparison of evaluation models. Web.
McCawley, P. (2009). Methods for conducting an educational needs assessment. Web.
Taylor, D., & Hamdy, H. (2013). Adult learning theories: Implications for learning and teaching in medical education. AMEE Guide, 83(35): 1561-1572.
WBI evaluation group. (2007). Interviews. Web.