I learned a great deal about program evaluation while examining a library media endorsement program (which you can read about here), but I was first introduced to the evaluation of “professional learning programs” and determining the “effectiveness on deepening teacher content knowledge, improving teacher pedagogical skills and/or increasing student learning” when surveying my co-workers and facilitating teacher focus groups, along with my co-technology integration specialist partner (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).
With the help of our school’s technology consultant, the following survey was given to the teachers:
We used the results from this survey to guide the development of our professional development, the following responses were most informative:
We used this information to focus our professional development efforts on peer coaching and individual mentorship; that work can be reviewed in several posts from throughout the last year.
Teacher Focus Groups
Aside from conducting annual surveys, my co-technology integration specialist partner and I facilitated teacher focus groups. These conversations allowed us to sit down with small groups of teachers and discuss their successes, challenges and hopes for the future. Some of the discussion points included:
- How much technology, if any, is appropriate in the grade(s) you teach?
- What are your hopes for using technology with your students? (Next year? 3 years? 5 years?)
- What are your fears about increasing your and your students’ use of technology?
- Are you comfortable with your students using technologies in which you yourself are not proficient?
- When do we NOT want to use technology, and what are those cases and why?
- Obstacles are inevitable, whether rolling out a new instructional program or implementing behavior change. And change takes time! It’s better to be proactive than reactive. What are some of the potential problems ahead? What are some possible solutions?
- Do you envision devices owned and used by parents or devices brought to school by students (other than school-issued laptops or iPads) to be integrated in any way?
- Constant communication is a key to a successful program. Yet technology changes at such a rapid pace, it can be difficult for even the most collaborative educators to stay in touch. What are some ways you/we can regularly share best practices and new finds?
- What role should parents play? How will you communicate your technology practices to parents?
The teachers’ answers helped to guide us, targeting specific teachers in mentorship and training, facilitating school-wide professional development workshops, applying for grants and making informed purchases, and writing policies, procedures and Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs). One year later, we visited with the same teachers and asked the following questions:
- Which technologies were successful with the grades you teach?
- Which technologies were unsuccessful with the grades you teach?
- What support did you require from the technology team in order to be successful using technology with your students?
- What kinds of support would you like to have moving forward with your classroom technology use (e.g. in person; on-site PD; online/off-site PD, etc.)?
It was wonderful to hear (and celebrate) the many successes and discuss, as a group, how to address some of the shared challenges. Even with just one year of experience, it was clear that these surveys and focus groups have helped us to move forward as a community.
Blattner, S. (2015). Technology & learning plan [Handout]. [School name omitted], Seattle, WA.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards: coaches. Retrieved June 29, 2011, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches