ISEE Outcomes

National Challenges in Professional Development*

The Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educator's PDP Model and Outcomes

“Despite its prevalence, the workshop model’s track record for changing teachers’ practice is abysmal. Short one-shot workshops often don’t change teacher practice and have no effect on student achievement.”

(Yoon et al 2007; Bush 1984)

The PDP includes ongoing cycles of instruction followed by implementation and reflection, with coaching throughout.

(Hunter, et. al. 2010)

“Studies show that effective professional development programs require anywhere from 50-80 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before teachers arrive at mastery.“

(French, 1997; Banilower, 2002; Yoon et al., 2007)

PDP participants spend an average of 100 hours that includes instruction, practice, and coaching.

PDP participants are able to demonstrate their understanding of inclusive teaching strategies.

(Metevier, et. al. 2010)

“When professional development merely describes a skill to teachers, only 10% can transfer it to their practice.

(Bush 1984)

95% of PDP participants implement an inquiry lesson; 70% with high fidelity.


“Numerous studies have shown coaching to be successful at changing teacher practice and improving student learning. Coaching includes teachers working with a master educator before, during and after a lesson.”

(Showers, 1984; Slinger, 2004; Knight, 2007; Batt 2009; Stephens et al., 2007; Knight and Cornett, 2009)

PDP instructors coach participants before, during, and after implementation of new teaching practices.

(Hunter et. al., 2010)

“Modeling by the coaches has been shown to be very effective at helping teachers grasp a new teaching approach before they attempt implementation.”

(Roy, 2005); Goldberg, 2002; Rice, 2001; Black, 1998; Licklider, 1997)

PDP instructors model the implementation of a well-designed inquiry lesson, as well as many other strategies, including:

  • Leading a small group discussion
  • Think-pair-share
  • Jigsaw
  • Flipped instruction
  • Teaching moves

"Professional development that focuses on teachers analyzing the specific skills and concepts they’ll teach in their discipline is not only well-received by teachers, but has also been shown to improve both teacher practice and student learning.”

(Blank de la Alas and Smith, 2007; Carpenter et al., 1989; Cohen and Hill, 2001; Lieberman and Wood, 2001; Merek and Methven, 1991; Saxe, Gearhart, and Nasir, 2001; Wenglinksky, 2000; McGill-Franzen et al. 1999; Darling-Hammond et al. 2009)

PDP participants work on small teams to design and teach an activity, including carefully defining an important concept and skill to be taught within their disciplinary area. PDP participants have demonstrated learning outcomes from the learners they taught, including:

  • Scientific concepts
    (Montgomery, et. al., 2010; Putnam, et. al. 2010)
  • Scientific reasoning skills
    (Ball, 2009; Putnam et. al. 2010; Metevier, et. al. 2010)
  • Attitudinal changes
    (McConnell, et. al., 2010)

“Professional learning communities can be a vehicle for teacher changes and school reform.”

(Louis & Marks, 1998)

The PDP is embedded in a professional learning community that, through a decade of work focused on inquiry teaching and learning, brought about organizational change (or “reform”) in a community of scientists.

(Ball, 2009; Ball and Hunter, 2010)

“The vast majority of teachers do not teach critical thinking, and observations indicate that students rarely engage in meaning making and reasoning, investigation and problem-based approaches, questioning strategies and student generation of ideas and questions.”

(Kane & Stainger, 2012)

All PDP participants identify a reasoning skill (e.g. hypothesizing, explaining findings, or defining problem requirements), what it looks like when a learner masters it, and what it looks like when a student is struggling with it. PDP participants have been successful in teaching reasoning.

(Ball, 2009; Ball and Hunter 2010)

“The area of greatest struggle (for teachers) is not in learning a new skill, but in implementing it.”

The PDP community has identified challenges to implementing inquiry, and implement strategies for overcoming these challenges.

(Ball, 2009; Ball and Hunter, 2010; Ball and Hunter, 2013)

*From: Center for Public Education (2013) “Teaching the Teachers” and citations therein.

Ball, T., (2009). Explaining as Participation: A Multi-Level Analysis of Learning Environments Designed to Support Scientific Argumentation. Ph.D. dissertation, UC Santa Cruz.

Ball, T., and Hunter, L., 2010. “Using Inquiry to Develop Reasoning Skills and to Prepare Students to Take Initiative in a Research Setting: Practical Implications from Research” in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds. ASP Conference Series 436: 490,

Ball, T., & Hunter, L., 2010. “Developing and Sustaining a Science and Technology Center Education Program: "Inquiry" at as a Means for Organizational Change and Institutional Legitimacy” in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds. ASP Conference Series 436: 469,

Ball, T. & Hunter, L. (2013) Access to STEM through Scientific Argumentation. In G. Wells & A. Edwards (Eds.) Pedagogy in Higher Education: A Cultural Historical Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Banilower, E. (2002). Results of the 2001-2002 study of the impact of the local systemic change initiative on student achievement in science. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.

Batt, E. G. (2010). Cognitive coaching: A critical phase in professional development to implement Sheltered instruction. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26 (2010), 997-1005.

Blank, R. K., de las Alas, N., & Smith, C. (2007). Analysis of the quality of professional development programs for mathematics and science teachers. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

Bush, R.N. (1984). Effective staff development in making schools more effective: Proceedings of three state conferences. San Francisco, CA: Far West Laboratory.

Cohen, D. K., & Hill, H. (2001). Learning policy: When state education reform works.

New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Darling-Hammond, L., Chung Wei, R., Andree, A., & Richardson, N. (2009). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.

Hunter, L., Metevier, A.J., Seagroves, S., Kluger-Bell, B., Porter, J., Raschke, L.M., Jonsson, P., Shaw, J., Quan, T.K., Montgomery, R., 2010. “Cultivating Scientist- and Engineer-Educators 2010: The Evolving Professional Development Program” in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds. ASP Conference Series 436: 3,

Kane, T. J. & Staiger, D. O. (2012). Gathering feedback for teaching: Combining high-quality observations with student surveys and achievement gains. Seattle, WA: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching: A partnership approach to improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Knight, J. & Cornett, J. (2009). Studying the impact of instructional coaching. Lawrence, KS: Kansas Coaching Project for the Center on Research on Learning.

Louis, K. S., & Marks, H. (1998). Does professional community affect the classroom? Teachers’ work and student experience in restructured schools. American Journal of Education, 106 (4), 532-575.

Metevier, A.J., Hunter, L, Goza, B.K., Raschke, L.M., and Seagroves, S., 2010. “Improvements in Professional Development Program Participants’ Understandings about Inclusive Teaching” in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds. ASP Conference Series 436: 515,

McConnell, N. Medling, A., Strubbe, L., Moth, P., Montgomer, R. Raschke, L,. Hunter, L., Goza, B., 2010. “A College-Level Inquiry-Based Laboratory Activity on Transiting Planets” in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds. ASP Conference Series 436: 515.

Montgomery, R. Harrington, D., Sonnett, S., Pitts, M., Mostafanezhad, I., Foley, M, Lang, E., Hunter, L., 2010. “The Design and Implementation of the Akamai Maui Short Course” in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds. ASP Conference Series 436: 515.

Putnam, N.M., Cheng, J.Y., McGrath, E.J., Lai, D.K., and Moth, P., 2010. “Lens Inquiry: An Astronomy Lab for Non-Science Majors at Hartnell Community College”, in Learning from Inquiry in Practice, L. Hunter & A.J. Metevier, eds., ASP Conference Series 436: 148,

Saxe, G., Gearhart, M., & Nasir, N. S. (2001). Enhancing students' understanding of mathematics: A study of three contrasting approaches to professional support. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 4, 55–79.

Showers, B. (1984). Peer coaching: A strategy for facilitating transfer of training. Eugene, OR: Centre for Educational Policy and Management.

Slinger, J. L. (2004). Cognitive coaching: Impact on student and influence on teachers. Dissertation Abstracts International, 65 (7), 2567. (University Microfilms No. 3138974)

Stephens, D., Morgan, D., Donnelly, A., DeFord, D., Young, J. Seaman, M., et al. (2007). The South Carolina Reading Initiative: NCTE’s Reading Initiative as a statewide staff development project. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007–No. 033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. Retrieved from

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